Over 40 and unemployed

February 24, 2009 12:32:15 PM PST
The economic crisis has left people unemployed who have spent years, even decades, building a career. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor says that the number of unemployed people between the ages of 40 and 44 has gone from 4.1 percent to 7.1 percent just in the past 12 months.

The term being tossed around a lot is "reinvent yourself." But how do you begin?

"It was a complete shift in my daily routine," Edward Gregory said.

"I was in shock and denial," Gayle Davis said. "And then you start thinking, what do I do now?"

Gregory and Davis both have years of experience and were over 40 when they lost their jobs. Now, they are looking for work in a much different job market.

"You have to be willing to look below where you were looking," Gregory said. "You have to be thinking of other strategies to make yourself available."

Gregory was able to find public relations work at Project Hospitality, a not-for-profit organization serving people with needs, getting about 30 hours of work a week.

Davis, on the other hand, is still searching for a job after working with an organization for 25 years.

"I know that there's an economic reality out there," she said. "But I also know a number of skills."

Gayle, like Edward and like many others, is turning to career coaching and outplacement organizations like "The 5 O'Clock Club."

Renee Lee Rosenberg, a senior employment coach, have seen their numbers of older unemployed more than double.

"They need to learn how to position themselves," she said. "And in the 5 O'Clock Club, we actually always begin with an assessment."

Job search suggestions she makes include staying active and starting your job search immediately. Assess your strengths, talents and skills. Prepare a positioning statement. Have a written plan and set do-able goals. And keep learning.

"Help others to help you," Rosenberg said. "You need to help people to tell them what you are looking for, who you are, what you're about, what are your skills."

"As I go back out, I'm really able to express or articulate what it is I do, what I do well," Davis said.

Employment coaches also suggest to think of your job search as a job in and of itself. Dedicate a good deal of time to it.

"If you're not working, you need to put in at least 35 hours a week," Rosenberg said. "Your job search is a job. It's a full-time job."

"Just get interviews, even when there isn't a job available," Gregory said. "Because you really need to make those contacts. You really need to be in people's minds."

"Learn some new skills, so that you can keep going forward," Davis said.

Going forward and hopefully heading for a new job.



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