My Unemployed Life: Job Seeker 'Of a Certain Age' Struggles to Find Work
Four-and-a-half million Americans over 45 remained unemployed in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's like the entire Boston metropolitan area being out of work. But as some people will attest, while wisdom comes with age, employment may not.
"I'm living the American dream. I'm divorced, unemployed, and deep in debt," says Gene S., a job seeker "of a certain age."
At last count, he had sent out 745 resumes in 18 months since losing his job.
The Law Is Old Too
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) dates back to 1967, making it just three years shy of being the age of a Baby Boomer. The law protects people 40 and older, as applicants or employees, from being discriminated against based on age. Job postings can only specify age limits in rare circumstances, when a particular age is necessary "to the normal operation of the business."
Still, Gene feels there is ageism in the hiring process.
"I think I can understand it to a degree, but that doesn't make it right," he says. "They're looking at me like, 'Can you keep up with us?'"
Young at Heart
Trainer and employment counselor Kathy Landsford tries to help pass on the wisdom of the older worker to current job situations.
- Get smarter
- Get skilled -- learn the software
- Lose those phrases like: "Well in my day..."
"It's not helpful," she says. "Talk about the present and the future. Only talk about the past when it's in reference to a solution that worked in the past."
Gene has returned to school to hone his skills in technology. He doesn't just want to share wisdom; he hopes to pass on new information.
"I can help other folks learn the things I've learned," he says.
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Carol Berman, an award-winning journalist, writes the blog, The Scribble Lounge, a unique take on current events and pop culture. She's New York bred and now lives outside Philadelphia.
Over more than 15 years, she spent many years in broadcast journalism as a producer, followed by a short award-winning stint in public relations and now makes a happy return to journalism. An avid news junkie, Carol is also a runner, a recovering triathlete, and dog lover. She loves to bake for friends and family and volunteer with different non-profits.