mature workers

It’s hard out there for mature workers. Even as the economy rebounds, young people generally have an easier time finding work, since they’re more acquainted with new technology and are possibly willing to accept lower wages. It’s enough of a problem in San Diego that Rep. Susan Davis recently organized a panel discussion aimed at folks in their 40s and 50s struggling to compete with their 20- and 30-something counterparts.

As part of the discussion, UT San Diego reports, Rep. Davis’ assembled experts offered some tips for mature workers struggling to find work. Scroll down to read their excellent recommendations.

1. Be a Risk Taker — As Davis says, “We know uncertainty can sometimes propel us to do things we don’t normally do.” You may have spent your entire career in one industry, but if the opportunities have dried up, it might be time to try something new.

2. Get Computer Literate — This is a biggie. Ours is a tech-driven world, and mature workers need to bone up on the skills many employers now take for granted. “There’s a prejudice out there and it’s something that has to be overcome — that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” said panelist Mary Walshok, a 72-year-old vice chancellor at UC San Diego.

3. Get Back in the Classroom — According to Otto Lee, vice chancellor at the San Diego Community College District, many older workers have “soft skills” — i.e. they’re adept functioning in a workplace and staying on task — but lack hands-on skills. “We can teach you skills to be a pastry chef, an auto mechanic,” Lee said, and if neither of those are appealing, there’s any number of alternative courses available to give you other skills.

4. Make Connections — There’s a reason everyone is always talking about “networking”: It’s really important. As per Rep. Davis’ panel, joining professional organizations is a great way to make contacts, and beyond that, Walshok said, it’s useful to view learning as “not just acquiring information,” but as “as opportunity to grow your network.”

5. Try Apprenticeship — Dubbed “the other four year degree” by Karen Belcher, a senior apprenticeship consultant at the California’s Department of Apprenticeship Standards, apprenticeships pay decent money — up to $20 an hour — and tremendous opportunities for advancement. This is especially good advice for workers considering learning a trade.

6. Tailor That Resume — This one, like many of the others, applies to people of all ages: Don’t show up for a job interview with a generic CV. You’ve only got a few minutes to wow the hiring manager, so be sure to craft a resume that speaks to what the company is looking for.  

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