Althea Taylor-Jones, PhD – Certified Gerontologist
The National Council on Aging states: “Millions of older adults want—or need—to keep working past traditional retirement age. But it isn’t always easy.” – See more at: http://www.ncoa.org/enhance-economic-security/mature-workers/#sthash.3sbsLU6j.dpuf.
As a seasoned citizen [“mature” worker]; with more than 40 years in the workforce prior to retiring in 2009, I have a plethora of skills and experiences to share with others. The list includes – [corrections, rehabilitation, counseling, administration, teaching, grant writing, program development/implementation/evaluation, community service and perhaps the most rewarding – volunteerism!!!], just to name a few. These experiences have been and continue to be shared with employers, employees, young adults preparing to begin a career, as well as workers who have been in the work force for a number of years. Those individuals that I am currently advocating for are the “mature” job seeking individuals in the 50 plus category.
As a college professor and administrator, I worked with adults in age categories ranging from seventeen (17) to 70 plus, in professor/student (classroom, field experience, internship) relationships; as well as employer/employee (student workers, clerical support, technicians/assistants, counselors) relationships. Certainly, the ideas of a seventeen (17) year old are quite different than those of a 70 year old. Many of the “traditional” age individuals enrolled in my courses, field experiences, internships, and serving as employees, tended to arrive late, leave early, accrue frequent absences and fail to complete assignments/commitments/tasks.
Mature individuals shared their analytical, personal and problem solving skills with the younger, less experienced traditional individuals. However, the ability to exhibit a willingness to share these and other resources with others only comes with experience. Although, there are some experiences worthy of sharing and/or exchanging among the aforementioned age groups, mature individuals are basically prepared and focused, require less training, make fewer mistakes/errors and are more cost effective, in many settings, not only in the workplace.
Included in this article are some strategies [A few words to the wise!] for “mature” job seekers, as well as employers seeking “mature” workers!
Mature Job Seekers:
It is imperative that your resume’ is updated with your most relevant experience. Concentrate on the last ten to fifteen (10-15) years of experience. Presenting information as a skills set or narrative summary can be quite appealing. Unfortunately, listing your entire employment history will serve as a negative indicator to many employers (i.e., long list of titles, dates, chronological order, etc.). However, prepare a directed or pointed, functional resume’, which lists/highlights your accomplishments at the top and explicitly focuses on the specific experiences that are relevant to the position you are seeking, to be shared with a “priority” list of opening; not every job that you feel qualified to perform.
Many mature job seekers make the critical mistake of excluding from their resume’ those volunteer experiences engaged in, particularly during time away from the workforce. Valuable skills and networking opportunities are gained through volunteer work and can be impressive as well as beneficial to employers. Additionally, many job seekers tend to overlook the usefulness of workshops, seminars and other relevant educational/informational experiences.
It is advisable for mature job seekers to give less attention to high school or college graduation dates. Dates are not the primary focus – the school, the diploma/degree, and relevant coursework will lend credibility to your qualifications and not necessarily your age.
Flexibility is a key component to successful job searches! Strategize to connect experiences that will cover a variety of employment options. Flexibility also includes the ability to accept part-time employment that could provide the opportunity for gaining new skills, especially technology and enhancing your credentials, while seeking full-time employment.
Technological skills present challenges to some mature workers. However, they are paramount as most documents are produced and stored electronically. Additionally, documents are e-mailed or uploaded to the web site or e-mail address of employers. Always, conduct a test-run of the documents that you plan to share, particularly in an e-mail transmission, to evaluate and ensure an appropriate format. By all means; please proofread, spell check, and grammar check all documents before sharing and/or submitting them electronically. Also, read, comprehend, review and follow the guidelines/protocol posted by the potential employer(s) before submitting documents.
Experience is the best teacher – Mature workers have learned, earned, set the bar and shared many of the following characteristics/qualities:
Leadership – Mature workers are the foundation upon which this country was built. They set a good example for co-workers, as well as employers. They are excellent mentors and role models assisting younger workers with new ideas and creativity. Without the unique mentoring skills provided by mature workers, we would constantly be engaged in starting over or re-inventing the wheel, thus imposing a slower rate of growth/development and efficiency/productivity.
Punctuality – Mature workers are very reliable. Additionally, they tend to arrive for work in a timely manner, complete their required hours and ask for or take a limited amount of time away from their work responsibilities.
Loyalty – Mature workers recognize and appreciate the value of a reliable employer. Additionally, mature workers are generally committed to their employment situation and place high value on the relationship.
Honesty – Mature workers tend to exhibit a high level of personal integrity.
Detail-oriented – Mature workers lend more attention to skills and responsibilities, thus avoiding costly errors.
Communication – Mature workers have learned and know when to communicate (ask questions, provide in-put, etc.).
Listening – Mature workers through years of experience, have learned to understand and follow directions quite well with a limited amount of clarification needed.
Dignity – Mature workers are more likely to see the value of working until the task has been completed. This exudes a sense of pride in the quality of the finished product.
I have listed a few of the key components and strategies for “mature” job seekers to consider when seeking employment, as well as for employers to consider when seeking “mature” workers. The information is not all inclusive, but is a good starting point!
For additional information, or to request assistance with networking, resume’ preparation, job searches, and other employment concerns for mature workers, please contact: Dr. Althea Taylor-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 996-3866.