Senior job seekers need more help to get back to work

By Yang Zhou


It can be a challenge to find a job in one’s 50s and 60s. The unemployment rate for older workers is lower than that of younger workers, but once out of work, older workers seem to have greater difficulties landing a new job. The average duration of unemployment for job seekers age 55 and older was 54.3 weeks in 2014, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Many programs in Boston offer help for unemployed people, but Operation A.B.L.E is the only one dedicated to people over age 45.

William Gyurina, 68, was a retired respiratory-care therapist. After retiring, he was starting to feel lonely at home. But he didn’t want to return to the same field he had worked in for nearly 35 years.

“The former job seemed a little busy for me at my age now. I want to have an easier and more relaxed work after the retirement,” he said. So, he applied to the volunteer program in Malden Public Library, because it’s near his home. After the orientation session and some training, Gyurina began to check out books and videos at the library. Over the winter, he was hired as a full-time circulation-department employee. “The key of finding a new job in your 60s is all about networking and asking questions,” Gyurina said, explaining his secret of success.

“For those people who have already retired and have enough pension, volunteering can be a great way for them to engage in the community, make new friends, and pursue a cause about which they are passionate,” said Tyissha Jones-Horner, who is the director of the  senior volunteer program for the City of Boston. “They can also turn the volunteer jobs into full-time jobs if they want to get hired and paid.”

Jacquelyn B. James, the director of Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, provides some tips for senior job seekers. James’ first suggestion: review your personal history. She recommends assessing your special skills and knowledge to see if they can transfer into a new opportunity in your field. “Use your work experience as a guide to the future,” James explained, “People don’t change that much. If that’s what you like at work now, then look for these characteristics in next job.”

Also, though there are certainly many modern ways to find jobs online and through social media, having direct contacts at the company you would like to work for is still one of the best ways to find out about openings and get hired, “The best way to find a job is through personal contacts,” James said. “You can avoid a lot of implicit discrimination if someone who knows you is willing to vouch for you.”

James thinks confidence is the most important trait for the senior job seekers. “You need to view your age as an asset,” she said. “You have worked hard to get where you are, so be proud of what you’ve accomplished along the way and be even more enthusiastic about what you have yet to accomplish.”

About Yang Zhou 4 Articles
Yang Zhou is a multimedia journalism graduate student at Emerson College. She is interested in writing and reporting. And she enjoys listening to other's stories.