From older workers feeling job discrimination to younger employees wanting to switch careers, job seekers want advice. Career counseling expert Terri Carpenter of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency in California offers some guidance. Here's a sampling of Carpenter's recent advice. McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers
Q: I have been out of work for some time now, except for several seasonal jobs. My background is in customer service (taking phone orders, resolving customer complaints), but I'm interested in getting into the administrative assistant field. Is there any type of training I can take to sharpen my software skills? I understand there are grants for people like me to go back to school.
A: Yes, there are financial assistance programs available through the community college system, such as Pell grants.
If you sit down with a career coach, he or she can help you identify the skills/training that an administrative assistant would need.
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Q: I have been to resume critique and job-search seminars and found them very valuable. But when I visit a prospective employer, there seems to be a huge elephant in the room: my age. While my cover letter and qualifications open the door for interviews, I cannot hide that I am a 62-year-old man.
I recently attended a job orientation with a national company that received 450 resumes for five positions; nine of us were invited to the orientation. I thought this time would be different because my personality, affable nature and experience would garner an interview: They did not. It seems the 30-something (interviewer) . . . could not see hiring someone who reminded her of her dad.
Why do I not hear the outcry of older workers about an issue that is epidemic?
A: Complaints about discrimination against older workers are on the rise and have been covered by the media, both nationally and locally, in recent months. I have received quite a few e-mails from older workers expressing your same concerns.
I recently came across an article, "Positive Attitude Is Key When Fighting Prejudice Against Older Workers," by Katharine Hansen, a careers author and blogger at Quintessential Careers. Her summation: "Face the fact that some unenlightened organizations simply won't hire you if you're 'of a certain age,' and you're better off not fighting them. Instead, put your energy into seeking out the companies who welcome your work ethic and maturity."
Among her tips: Don't be a victim, and don't panic; tap into "boomer power"; embrace change; and stay fit and energetic. For the full article, go to www.quintcareers.com/older-workers-jobseekers.html.
The best advice I can give to older workers: Keep your skills current, especially computer skills.
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Q: What are the best tools to assess your job skills and interests?
A: There are several free tools available that will help determine your skills and interests.
The first is IDEAS (Interest, Determination, Exploration and Assessment System), designed for students and adults. It helps identify your interests and the careers/occupations that you might enjoy.
The second is Choices, a software program that offers a more detailed look at your interests and relevant occupations.
There is a tool that anyone can access online: ONet OnLine, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, lets users search for occupations that use their skills. It's at www.online.onetcenter.org.