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Job Hunting Today – When You’re Over Fifty

I’ve been a productive, employed, member of society for a very long time. I have followed the rules, always worked hard, and performed to the best of my ability. I am a baby-boomer, and thought I’d be able to work as long as I desired to work.

I have been an employee, and have owned a number of businesses where I had employees. I started out in a clerical position, and over the years worked my way up the corporate and business ladder. In my mind, I am a success story.

When I first entered the working world, women were just starting to attempt equality in the workplace. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, my generation of young women just wouldn’t accept being in a clerical position forever … we wanted to climb that corporate ladder! So, we worked harder and faster, and made ourselves the best we could be, just to have an opportunity to become more. My generation, in my opinion, paved the way for our female children to have the chance to be whatever they wanted to be, and excel in whatever field they chose. We also had the pressure of thinking we could have it all—career, family, children, and felt we had to do it all effortlessly. I was a businesswoman, I was a wife, I was a mother, and each of those things had to be done to perfection! So many of us tried, and actually succeeded, in balancing career, children and family, and did it well. Underneath the job well done, the smooth running household, the well behaved children, and the country club social life, we were truly exhausted! But, the important thing was that strides were being made for all working women.

Now, fast forward to present day … the economic situation has brought my business in interior design to a virtual standstill, so I have been pursuing employment in other areas. Feeling that my vast experience and knowledge would make me a prized candidate for whatever job I applied for, I carefully chose the jobs I was interested in, and began to send out resumes. I have now sent out over 1,200 resumes, and I still have no job. I’ve only had three interviews, and all were conducted by someone in their late twenties to mid-thirties. ( I must clarify one point here … I’m definitely over fifty-five, but I’ve taken pretty good care of myself, or I have good genes, because I do not look like someone’s Grandmother, even though I am.) I’ve kept current with technology and social networking, and I don’t dress like an older woman, so I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned that I wouldn’t move easily into my next dream job. That was over two years ago!

Here’s the scenario for over-fifity job seekers: First of all, business etiquette has gone by the wayside … you may, or may not, hear from a potential employer concerning your application. Secondly, you absolutely MUST condense your resume to one page. If it’s more than one page, it will be thrown in the trash. And thirdly, and probably the most important thing of all … potential employers will tell you anything BUT the truth. They are receiving hundreds of applications for every job posted, and they are not going to hire you because you are over fifty. They obviously can’t tell you this, because they don’t want to be sued for age discrimination, so they imply that they found someone half your age who was better qualified and more experienced than you are. Now, I don’t know about you, but I truly find that hard to believe! How could someone half my age be more experienced and better qualified than me? How did they accomplish that feat? How can a person cram over thirty or forty years of working experience into a twenty-five or thirty-year-old body? If they truly have accomplished this, somebody needs to tell me how, so I can understand it! I just find that amazing, don’t you?

But, being the stubborn, previously overachiever, that I’ve always been, I still haven’t given up. I’m not ready to retire, I’m not old enough to draw my Social Security, and I want to continue to be a productive member of society so maybe someday I can retire with some peace of mind, and even a little money put back so I can enjoy myself in my old age. Now, I just don’t know … I saw an article from the New York Times recently with the following title, “Over 50 Workers Are Becoming the New Poor.” The article set forth one woman’s situation, and it sounded like what I’ve been going through, and didn’t offer much hope for those over age fifty who are seeking work. Baby-boomers, who have worked, paid taxes, and pretty much kept the economy going for a very long time, are apparently now useless, and unemployable. This news is terrifying to me! How could it be that a young-looking, vibrant, energetic, and intelligent businesswoman like me be useless and unemployable? Something is really wrong with our society if we’re willing to pass over a person for a position simply because they are over fifty! The word is, there aren’t enough jobs to go around, so we need to go ahead and retire, and let the new generation work. That’s all well and good, but if we’re not old enough to retire and draw our retirement, and we are too old to be hired, then where does that leave us financially? Does no one care that my generation, who has always worked hard, provided for their families, educated their children, and instilled work ethic into the lives of our children, could now seriously become the new poor?

Everyone needs to think about this situation. It could happen to your mother or father, who made your life comfortable, and now they can’t earn money to take care of themselves. What happens to a society who chooses to treat a certain age group in this manner? I don’t know the answers, but someone needs to address this problem, because baby-boomers have pumped a lot of money into our economy, and everyone will have something to lose if we actually become the new poor!