My Unemployed Life: Job Seeker 'Of a Certain Age' Struggles to Find Work

Unemployed LifeFour-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.

She suggests:

  • 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.

Next: Companies Hiring This Week

Stories from CNN Money

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If your 60 or over you can just forget getting hired, toooo many young people out there for the same jobs

September 02 2011 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i agree with eddfro,no money for school,unemployment is only for 5 mos not long enough. I am tired of giving my graduation date of 1972 and gettingblank stares when I walk in the door to interview. Also those so called assessements,they are a joke.

August 31 2011 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Being unemployed can also be a good time to seek new levels of careers and education.Testing your potential of things you are capable of doing and being divese in other fields. Exploring other avenues of ways to earn a living like home based business, online, surveys and going back to school whether online or a local community college. I have always believed that where there is a will there is a way to make it.

June 07 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am going back to school, and very happy about it, after going back to work over and over again, only to be laid off 4 times in 4 years! No one cares how hard you have worked, for how long, and if you don't have the skills, training, and/or education which is equivalent or greater than the prospective employer's request, you will not even be considered, no matter how "simple" the actual duties of the job happen to be. And the blatant age discrimination is definitely out there. Just think if they "paid" some employers to hire the "elderly"! You would see then that money talks, no matter what language, financially speaking, has to be learned.

May 25 2011 at 9:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As I recall, my father dealt with age discrimination beginning in his 40's (while I was in junior high). As a mechanical engineer, I remember his resume being pages long with experience (both on the job, and from his various engineering projects at home).

After a while, he found that having a long resume gave the recruiters an indication of his age, and that negatively impacted his ability to get interviews. Strategically restructuring his resume for every job opportunity (only stating experience related to that job) would sometimes help get his foot in the door for an interview. However, when the interviews came around, he was "found out", and it was rare when a job (most often temping) came to fruition. Those temp jobs never seemed to last long, and I remember the unfortunate days coming home from school to learn that my dad was once again laid off.

The biggest kick in the pants was being "overqualified" - a problem that goes hand-in-hand with ageism. Sometimes my father was even unable to get hired for jobs well below his abilities because they feared he'd jump ship once a better opportunity came along. Sadly, he just wanted to provide for our family....just like the gentleman in the video.

May 23 2011 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i am 55 and having the same truble he is only one thing u have to have the money to go back to school i tryed for a grant they want to charge u for them if u have no job how can u pay for school

May 21 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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