How older workers can improve their job search success – Daily News


Last week, we answered HN’s question about wanting to get in touch with a person or agency to help find a job in Orange County. At 63, she was fired from her job because of Covid-19. With two degrees in theology and years of volunteer work, she is looking for a part-time position. Resume writing and networking tips were covered in last week’s column. This week, we’ll focus on resources in the broadest sense.

While there’s no one best way to approach job hunting, some tend to produce more results than others. Going to an agency might seem like the most direct way to get that part-time job. Although useful, most jobs are not obtained through an agency. For adults 50 and older, 70-80% are found through networking; 40% through referrals and the least through job sites.

“Job sites, where older job seekers tend to spend most of their time, are the least productive avenues for a successful job search. The greatest success comes from networking and referrals, where applicants should focus the majority of their time and energy,” according to Doug Dickson, president of the Encore Boston Network, a nonprofit organization that focuses on opportunities for people aged 50 and over.

Networking has its benefits. It opens the door to the hidden labor market, those jobs not advertised elsewhere. It reduces the risks of hiring for the job seeker and the employer by avoiding a mismatch. Hiring managers may have to select one person out of 100 candidates they have never met and only have a digital relationship. These in-person referrals are more personal; they imply trust and can serve as a first selection for both the older job seeker and the potential employer.

Some seniors may feel anxious about having in-person networking conversations, especially if they have been out of the workforce for many years. Here are some comments mentioned by Encore Boston Network. “Networking makes me feel vulnerable.” “It makes me feel selfish and like I’m begging. “I feel like I can’t repay the person or I don’t know what to ask for.” Yet we network all the time, asking for a good plumber or painter or advice on buying a car. Networking is part of our daily life.

Resources are important. The largest and best known is AARP. Check out their website specifically focused on job opportunities. Another rich source of information is the Encore Boston Network which provides copies of PowerPoint presentations and audio recordings of workshops for older job seekers. The tips for a successful job search are particularly useful.

Look for Age-Friendly Employers, a concept developed by AARP. To qualify for this title, a company is asked to sign a pledge affirming the value of experienced workers and their company’s commitment to equal opportunity regardless of their age. More than 1,000 employers have signed the pledge. You can search the site by location and company.

How do you know if an employer is age-friendly? Here are some clues from Encore Boston Network:

  • Employers don’t ask for your graduation dates or anything else that might reveal your age.
  • They don’t use ageist words like “have a lot of energy” or look for a “digital native.”
  • Their diversity, equity and inclusion policies include age.
  • All generations are included in team project charts.
  • Their ads include images that include middle-aged and older adults.
  • The company offers flexible working hours.

Rosemary Nixon, Certified Retirement Coach and Founder and Chair of the Board of Encore Palm Beach County, shared some insights from her work with older job seekers over the past 10 years. She gave several tips: have realistic expectations, be eager to learn new skills, don’t be passive, and be present online. She added the importance of believing that you can make a difference, help solve a problem, prevent one or simply improve some aspect of the employer’s world. “Think about the possibilities,” she adds.

When it comes to working in Orange County, there are several part-time job sites that focus on opportunities for people at end of life. Examples are SimplyHired and JobHat.

And now to your background – with your background in the nonprofit world, check out a site that posts nonprofit jobs in your area. There are many more on the internet. Also consider exploring faith-based organizations given your theology degrees.

Thank you HN for your question. Hopefully these tips will help you find the right job for you and a potential employer. Stay well, safe and be kind to yourself and others.

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on aging and new retirement issues with academic, corporate, and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at [email protected]. Visit Helen at and follow her at

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