What’s Age Got to Do with It?

Apr 21, 2011

It’s been difficult these days for workers of all ages to find work, but older workers have faced particular challenges, according to this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek. More than any other age group, older workers have remained unemployed for ninety-nine weeks or more, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and one in every three seniors earn less than $22,000 a year, according to the National Council on Aging. My own academic specialization was in public policy for the aging, and I know that older workers often come up against ageism. You’d think older workers would be valued for their experience, but some prospective employers can be skeptical about an older worker’s technical skills. At the same time, older workers can overcome some challenges to finding work by using their long-running networks and revamping their resumes. Wendy Enelow, co-author of Expert Resumes for Baby Boomers, suggests highlighting the most recent fifteen years of work on your resume. For those who’d eventually like to land a full-time job, signing up to work through a temp agency might be a good bet—one temp agency saw as many as forty percent of their temps hired as employees. We know some even offer health insurance. What have your experiences been? Are you freelancing because you were forced out by ageism? Or did experience give you the wings you needed to fly solo? (photo by Horia Varlan, via Flickr)