writers resources / writing

Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). Once a month we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity doesn’t sound like a writing insecurity, does it? Bare with me. I’ll get you there. I went to a get-together at the home of a writer friend, Diana. I thought we were going to talk about blogging–all of us getting our struggling blogs going, following each other, in a mutual rising tide sort of thing. But it didn’t work out that way. We got distracted (though I think Diana planned this). We got to talking about our jobs, careers, futures. Everyone sitting there was over 60 and had been booted from a job with Big Business (one was Barnes and Noble, another a teacher, a few were a while ago and they were still looking for that next opportunity). There was amazing talent in that room–writing, sales, IT–and still we all wondered if anyone would take a chance on us. Mostly, we decided no, no one would, so we’d have to do it ourselves.

We had good reason to believe we were on our own. Arleen Bradley over at Career Coaching wrote this:

Some company recruiters … discriminate against the unemployed in hiring.  Resumes submitted through the big board sites and career fairs drop to the bottom of the pile never to make it to the top because these resumes are thought to come from the unemployed and the unemployed need not apply.

She shared terms used by recruiters when considering an unemployed applicant (as opposed to those gainfully employed):

  • lazy
  • apply for any available job whether or not their skills match the requirements
  • submit unprofessional resumes
  • can’t follow simple directions
  • haven’t kept up with the changes in their field and their skills are rusty
  • rude to people below the hiring managers’ level
  •  stalkers

That didn’t describe a single person in the group I was with. Every one of them was struggling, eager to work, ready to be creative about where their next dollar could come from. They were researching, learning new skills (like blogging), helping each other. Does that sound lazy or incompetent?

And Arleen understood that:

…that is not the case in most situations now.  Many people were laid off because their entire department was eliminated, their jobs were sent overseas, or the company folded.

Which is where blogging came in. My group of writers would create blogs to start our Next Big Career, to promote ourselves, using the beneficence of social media as the engine for our paycheck. We would share our resources, see what happened.

But what if nothing happens?

Now, I’m pretty upbeat so I choose to take the upside of this abyss and call it an opportunity. In fact, my small group is a microcosm of what I see going on all over the country. Older people are going self-employed. They’re refusing to be beaten down when traditional job paths kick them to the curb and tell them they’re finished. They aren’t finished. They’ve only just begun. They’re networking, reaching out through blogs to others, offering their skills for free or fee, and doing it with energy, alacrity, cerebral panache. Most sixty-year-olds will live twenty more years, way too long for most retirement funds. Older workers are ready and willing to create a patchwork of revenue sources, stitched together from being a WalMart greeter, an Examiner.com columnist, and a self-published author on Kindle. This is what gives headhunters nightmares. Older workers aren’t looking for that fulltime job that pays six figures. They’ll take their expertise, tested skills, track record of accomplishment and put it to work for themselves, in their own business.

Which is where insecurity pokes its nose under my positive tent: What if it doesn’t work? What if my friends (and maybe me) put a lot of work into something that fails? What if they spend the finite asset of their energy and enthusiasm on an idea that can’t be monetized enough to carry them through to a social security check that my never arrive?

I just tore off another fingernail at the prospect. I better get back to my writing. I KNOW I won’t succeed if I don’t finish my current WIP.

BTW, anyone interested in starting an online 60+ group?

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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30 thoughts on “Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?

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  9. What if you are not the entrepreneurial type? I’m not yet 60, but was kicked to the curb recently. I’ve never really felt “old” until now! It’s depressing and demeaning. And in education it’s really backwards. We should appreciate the value of the life experience and judgement that comes with being a mature employee. Trying to keep a positive outlook is difficult even if you’re typically optimistic. A friend told me recently not to spend more than 2 hours a day job hunting, but with the last paycheck spent it’s natural to obsess about it.


    • I don’t think entrepreneurial has a ‘type’ at our age. It’s doing what we love, being aware if it can grow to something more. You likely won’t even start planning to make it a business. What is required though is when something comes up that seems like the right thing to do–network with other teachers or write a book and publish it to Kindle–you do it. You may not be entrepreneurial, but I bet you’re willing to do what it takes if you know what that is. My advice–job hunt as much as you can stand. It’ll either work or get out of your system. In between, do whatever that one thing you’ve always thought would be a great job. Do it. See where it goes.

      Stay in touch!


  10. Here’s an interesting turn on the subject of writing. My nephew a creative song writer and singer said you can’t be a good writer until you have experienced life and he added until you are quite old, I laughed. I told him that may have some truth but there were some talented young writers out there. I still believe age and experience beat young and not committed. I can’t believe people do not want quality workers. I love your passion Jacqui and am proud to be connected to your amazing world you are an inspiration an add value to my days.


  11. I just turned 65, and began writing after I retired at 60. The economy in Canada is poor, but there are still opportunities out there for experienced, older people. I recently sold my first novel, which did not generate anything close to an income. Many members of my writers’ group are 70+ and find jobs writing for newspapers, editing and teaching their skills at the local college. We cannot compete against young college students, but we still have a lot to offer.


    • Love hearing that, Shirley. I will be talking about you to my group. You said exactly what I think–we have a lot to offer. If no one else believes that, we’ll believe it ourselves and act on it. I’ll be thinking of you up there in Canada.


  12. Excellent post, Jacqui. This is a very poor economy, and recovery remains shakey. I very much dislike the fact that long-time unemployed stats aren’t even used to calculate the unemployment rate! It’s as if to say, “you guys are really hopeless, so you don’t matter.”

    Truth be known, we’re at 9-10% unemployment nationally. It’s awful…

    Thanks for your visit to my site as well. Please come back soon.



  13. Yikes! This hits home. I’m a few years away from that Golden Age but have begun to think hard about the future. I’ve been with the same boss almost 13 yrs and HE’S close to retiring. The thought of competing against nubile young fresh out of college kids for a desk job is frankly terrifying. My umbrella – my writing. More opportunities than ever out there – not like the real world where experience doesn’t count. Hang in there, ladies. Keep your eyes open for unconventional methods of staying afloat.


  14. What a timely post for me. I just met a 60+ gal who lost her job and will soon be homeless unless something happens soon. Not many opportunities to find work. Maybe she could begin her own business, but it won’t pay for a roof over her head quick enough. Love your site. Best wishes in your fiction writing venture!


  15. Good articulation of an issue perhaps simmering beneath the surface. And, if you can get up and create an opportunity for yourself, nothing like it. In my view, and I have probably said this elsewhere, white-collar employment has had its bull run. People with skills and confidence now need to create that opportunity for themselves and not wait for a Big Firm to come knocking.


    • I like the way you say that, Ankur–‘bull run’. Truth, I never would have expected it to be a problem, when I was young, doing everything possible to make myself invaluable and irreplaceable!


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