Older job-seekers face obstacles in modern market

Deborah Watson, who is setting up a networking group for people who are over 50 and seeking new jobs, and Mesa County Work Force Center Employment Specialist Michael A. Smith Jr., discuss the group, which will meet for the first time on Tuesday at the Work Force Center, 512 29 1/2 Road.

Deborah Watson has worked as a secretary in medical, dental and hospital offices and is now back in the labor market, but at 53, she said, it’s difficult to get the attention of potential employers.

Watson comes from an era in which applicants dropped off resumes in offices, possibly garnering a preliminary meeting with a potential employer.

At the very least, a job applicant would know that a resume had been received and could expect a response, Watson said.

Not so today.

Applicants send their resumes to employers via the web and frequently receive no acknowledgement that their electronic missive has even been received, Watson said.

Helping older applicants navigate the new, sometimes cold, world of electronic communication is the idea behind the Searching After 50 Networking Group, which meets for the first time at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Mesa County Work Force Center, 512 29 1/2 Road, Room 150.

Watson is interning at the Work Force Center and helping to establish the networking group, but she’s still in the market for full-time work.

It’s not that older workers don’t understand the value of email and the immediacy of communications, Watson said. If anything, they’d like a little more of it.

“You don’t know if your resume has been received, when you might get an interview ... You sit and wait. We’re used to some type of response,” Watson said.

Similar groups for older job seekers have worked well on the Front Range, said Michael A. Smith Jr., the employment specialist working with Watson and the new networking group.

There are plenty of people 50 or older seeking work, many of them unemployed or underemployed or just seeking a change, Smith said of his “talent pool” that is waiting to be tapped.

The talent pool, whose talents range from mid-career people to chief executive officers, are “job ready,” already well aware that they need to show up on time, work a full day and so on, Smith said.

What many don’t realize, though, is that the skills they have are transferable to jobs they might never have considered, Smith said.

The networking group will tackle a variety of topics, from avoiding common mistakes and getting reality checks, to actual networking — sharing information and insights, Smith said.

For additional information, call Smith at 248-7560.


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