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Finding work after 55

Finding work after 55


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SALT LAKE CITY -- With unemployment at more than 7 percent in Utah, people of all ages are trying to find work. But some agencies are trying to remind people over 55 that they don't have to feel like getting a job is impossible because of their age.

For many people 55 or older, the fear of not being able to get a new job after being laid off is very real.


If you go in [thinking], ‘I'm too old. I'm a woman. I may be of a minority group,' those are all hindrances. The main thing to do is look past those.

–Charlotte Kuhn


Salt Lake County Aging Services Senior Employment Program Manager Charlotte Kuhn says, "When you have that safety net taken out from you that you've counted on, there is just no going back sometimes. The depression that sets in often times can be overwhelming."

Kuhn says many people tell themselves they're too old or they don't have the right experience.

"If you go in [thinking], ‘I'm too old. I'm a woman. I may be of a minority group,' those are all hindrances to you finding a job. The main thing to do is kind of look past those," she says.

Kuhn says aging services found positions for some of the people it serves, but those jobs went unfilled because the person thought they weren't right for it. For instance, some people who may have had a desk job for many years may think they wouldn't be able to work on their feet for hours at a time.

"Focus on your assets more than something that may be getting in your way; a stumbling block," Kuhn recommends. Seniors using the Senior Employment Program are getting more computer savvy recently. Kuhn says the number of people with marketable computer skills has shot up dramatically. Plus, they seem savvier in looking for a job.

But looking for a new position could be especially tricky for someone who has been with the same company for a long time. Kuhn says many seniors haven't even thought about updating their resumes in decades. She explains how one man updated his resume for the first time in nearly 35 years. When he was finished, it was seven pages long and included lots of unnecessary information, like where he went to elementary school.

"There are classes on resumes and interviewing skills. We'll be offering some more after the first of the year," Kuhn says.

It also refers many seniors to the Department of Workforce Services for job hunting advice.

One piece of advice Kuhn offers to people over 55 in the workforce is to keep up on all the changes going on within your field. Many seniors who have worked at the same place for so long are used to doing things a particular way, which may not be what the rest of the industry is doing. She says keeping up on all of the industry movement as well as new industry jargon can help you be more marketable to employers.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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