Chuck Castagnolo’s Over 50 and Out of Work Story


Chuck Castagnolo, founder of Bridges to Jobs, a volunteer organization, describes the path his life has taken since 2007 when he lost his job in the banking industry:

In September 2007 I found myself “Over 50 and out of Work.”  Having been in the management end of the savings and loan/banking business my entire career, I was not sure what to do.  The last ten years or so I had been doing real estate loans, and with 20/20 hindsight that was the beginning of the mortgage meltdown that would take our country into this Great Recession.  But that was not clear back then.

With that, I started looking for a new job.  I got up early in the morning to follow what I had learned and had done in the past when looking for a job. I updated my resume, posted it on the major job boards, and sat back and waited for the phone to ring, which it didn’t. What was happening this time around, however, was a slow paradigm shift in the job market and how to find a job.

The employment rate was rising, more and more people were losing their jobs, and employers were starting to become inundated with resumes they didn’t want and just didn’t have time to read.  It started to seem to me the “delete” button on their keyboards was becoming their best friend.

I started attending the local unemployment office professional job search group meetings and was meeting many more people like myself who were running into the same situation – no response to their resumes.  Something traumatic was in the works.  Our country was changing, and as a result of the Great Recession, a lot of the jobs we formally held were no longer viable positions.  Companies were learning to do more with less.

I did all the things I was told needed to be done to get a job.  I shortened up my resume from six pages to two and learned how to answer those pesky interview questions; still nothing.  That is when it hit me. I would probably never work again; I was too young to lose everything I had spent a career building.  What do I do now?  Well, I went out to the car and starting screaming.  Good thing it was a cold November day and the windows were closed.  Had I done that with the windows open I’m sure someone would have called an ambulance and I would have been taken away wearing one of those white jackets with long straps and nice shiny buckles.

It was then I got the idea to start Bridges to Jobs; I got to thinking no one was doing anything to psychologically prepare us for what was to come in what would be a very long job search.  What about the grief of losing your job.  How do I stand, sit and shake hands properly.  What does my internet presence look like and what will employers look for there?  What will they find if they do a background check? Who should I use for a reference?  And a behavioral interview was what?

So I decided to take my second love of teaching and training and develop a series of seminars to help job seekers through this difficult time and hopefully give them a heads up on their competition by knowing what to do, say and how to act in an interview.  That led me to reinvent myself as a trainer, which in turn led me to a job with a local career college helping others who are looking to advance themselves in this tight job market.

So I feel the gist of this writing is to encourage you not give up on yourself.  Find a way to think out-of-the-box when it comes to looking for a job.  Ask yourself how you can take your experience and skills and apply them in a new direction as that is where you new job will be.  Our country has grown and prospered by people finding new ways to do things differently and better.  You can be one of those too!

Chuck Castagnolo

Bridges to Jobs

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