It's no secret that job seekers older than 50 often face a steeper challenge than younger applicants. Some companies and businesses shy away from older applicants because they think they will cost too much, have dated skills or be less productive than younger workers.
The reverse is often true. Research shows that older workers have a stronger work ethic, are more dependable and punctual, and are more organized than many of their younger colleagues.
People over 50 bring more experience in dealing with workplace problems, handling difficult issues and working with a variety of personality types. These job seekers can be just as productive as their younger colleagues if they have kept up with technology or if they are willing to learn the skills they need. And, many times, older workers are less expensive to hire because they have pensions, savings and benefits that they bring with them.
By 2015, one in five U.S. workers is projected to be 50 or older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So where do you search for a job if you're in that age group?
Good places to look are in education, health, nonprofits and government agencies. These entities, while dedicated to equal opportunity for people of all ages, place a value on the life and work experience and dedication boomers and older employees bring to the job. Here are some local examples:
Operation PAR, with administrative offices in Pinellas Park, provides substance abuse and mental health treatment. Rich Neubert, its executive vice president of human resources, says older workers make up a large chunk of the agency's workforce. Of the organization's 456 employees, 42 percent are older than 50, with a large number of them older than 70, Neubert says.
Lisa Hendrickson, assistant human resources administrator for the city of Pinellas Park, says the city now has four generations working together, each bringing its own qualities and strengths. "Hiring and retaining employees in the baby boomer and traditional generations (people born before 1946) offers numerous benefits," she says.
Hendrickson said that in the past two years, 37 percent of the city's new hires have been in those two age groups and that they hold many different positions, including clerks, inspectors, public safety officers, mechanics and library and recreation assistants.
Marie R. Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business development and encore career counseling for people over 50. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.