I work hard for what I have in life and I’m lucky to have attached my life to a person who also works hard and makes every day count. We are both a bit entrepreneurial and as such, have created ways to earn our bread that are different from the main stream. But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand and sympathize with the millions of people in our age group who can’t find work at a time when they need it the most. If our plans fall apart, we too, will be part of the long line of older Americans seeking employment who have smarts, initiative and experience. But so what? Who cares if your employment history is stacked to the rafters with fabulous feats? There are millions out there with perfect records, excellent references and tons of talent. But they're over 50 and evidently, out of luck.
Middle age is no joke. When you are in it you realize that you might have fifteen, twenty, maybe twenty five years of work ahead of you; retirement no longer being an option for many of us. When a person in this group loses their particular job, finding another is made much more difficult for them by a low hiring rate and the influx of young, newly graduated people applying for the very jobs they seek. And apparently, getting them. Used to be that you could get a decent job – nothing earth shattering, mind you, just enough to make a living – and you could do your job every day, get paid and go home knowing that tomorrow (dull as it might be) you will do it again. It will keep the rain out, keep clothes on your back and maybe give you health care for the kids. It was basic. It was ordinary. Now though, if you are in your 50’s, unemployed and don’t have a college degree, the deck is stacked against you. And it is completely unfair.
Now I’m going to mention the “L” word. Logic would dictate that an employer would want to play it safe and hire individuals who are steady, hard working and not scouring the internet for “something better” the minute they tuck inside the cubicle their new employer just supplied... Young people have more time, are much more mobile and less interested in sticking to a particular company or job. Older Americans understand the importance of diligence in a job, even a dull job. They know all too well the dangers inherent in being unemployed for any length of time. Logic though, doesn’t seem to beset many employers. They see a young eager face with a degree behind them and even if the job they have to offer has nothing whatever to do with the young persons goals, seem to prefer hiring them for a job that they will likely move on from within a year or two for that “something better”.
I have a friend who is hard working, diligent and steady. She is a person of substance and experience who doesn’t look down her nose at menial work or long hours. She understands that though the rewards of a given job may not answer her dreams, they will at least keep her living indoors and her bills paid. Which is all she is asking; it’s all many older Americans in the job market are asking.
I see the job listings and know there are jobs out there. I also know that employers are legally bound to advertise for many positions all the while knowing exactly what type of person they want to employ, and sometimes precisely WHO they want to hire. I see that happen in my own town. Tiny as it is, my town plays job hockey with applicants just like the big boys in the big cities.
I don’t have the answer of course. I rarely have the answer to any of the big questions. But I do have a suggestion to employers: Stop stocking your businesses with young and inexperienced people simply because you have the misguided belief that you can mould them to your will. Do the right thing and mix it up a little by hiring someone of intelligence and diligence who will stick with you, do the job and who will show their gratitude by being loyal.
Be sensible, be logical and hire experience.