When you're over 50, with dreams that are still alive, they're harder to reach than when you were younger. Especially when you're out of a job and unable to get another one -- at all. That's the finding of Gen Plus, a company dedicated to reinventing the societal image of 50 plussers, which recently conducted a survey of older jobseekers. One question asked, "Over 50 with no job: How long have you been searching for a new job?"
"It was time to get a new snapshot of the job landscape," says Wendy Spiegel who runs Gen Plus, as well as an active online career group with 1,000 members. "The results were disconcerting. Of our survey-takers, 50 and older, who currently do NOT have a job, 45 percent have been looking for longer than 1 year and 22 percent have been seeking employment between 7 months and 1 year. That means that 67 percent of those 50 years and older who took the survey have been searching for work at LEAST longer than 7 months. That is a long time."
And it may indicate a significant increase in job search time since 2004, when AARP reported that it took workers 55 and older 25.8 weeks to find a job, compared to 18.9 weeks for younger workers.
Take Bill Spitalnick of Newport Beach, California, for example. With 33 years of experience in the real estate mortgage appraisal field, the last eight as a Review Appraiser, he lost his job a week after his 65th birthday. Things are tough in the sub-prime lending field right now, and his many job applications have gone unanswered. "My options are limited," he says, "but financially, I can't retire yet." Bill does have a degree and a real estate license and is racking his brain for other ways he can make a living.
Or Barbara, a member of the career group, who vented her frustrations after receiving five job rejections in one week. "My unemployment ran out 1 1/2 months ago, [I have used up all of my savings and 401k's, and have had to take early retirement until I can find a job ... I'm sure none of us wants to be put out to pasture yet."
Spiegel realized that, for many people, the shock of losing their jobs at an advanced age shatters their self-confidence and leaves them without a strategy to get back on their feet. "I felt it was time to lend a hand," she comments.
Lending a strategic hand
A successful corporate executive who has managed hundreds of people and multi-million dollar budgets, Spiegel created an electronic workbook, Keep Dreaming: Creating a Strategic Plan for the Rest of Your Life. "It requires only an email address, a couple of pencils and an eraser to get started, and it does just what it says it will." Spiegel smiles. "It helps readers uncover the strategy they need for the next stage of their lives. And, once it's printed out, no computer skills are necessary."
Keep Dreaming is aimed at giving 50 plussers control over their lives and tools to overcome obstacles. Like Sandy (not her real name), a Gen Plusser who fought her way back into the work force after an age discrimination issue forced her to retire at 58. When she looked for work, she took the bull by the horns and changed the first line of her resumé to read "Feisty Old Lady looking for an opportunity to be of service in a challenging position." She got the job! The e-workbook can be found at the Gen Plus blog or in the Gen Plus shop.
Gen Plus™ provides relevant, current services targeted to the 50 Plus generation. Services include free job search, online dating, products and education. For more information please visit the Gen Plus USA website. For Wendy Spiegel's blog covering issues ranging from Job Search at 50 Plus to Social Security opinion pieces to Aging in China, please visit the Gen Plus Blog. Your comments are invited.