If you’re 50-plus, get on the hiring trends bandwagon!


Lately, we’ve posted a few articles on our social media about hiring trends and tips.  The online responses have been mostly negative, which is somewhat surprising, given the challenging job market that older unemployed workers in the United States face.

The WSJ reported in a recent story that some companies are no longer using resumes to screen applicants.  Employers are requiring candidates to complete surveys or quizzes.  They are also requesting that jobseekers submit video profiles or prove that they have an online presence as a blogger or Twitterer.

Here are a couple of responses posted on our page about this hiring trend:

“Bring it back the old-fashioned way!!! Face to face!”

“It all is just giving me a headache!”

Context:

• Right now, there are over 13 million unemployed Americans and approximately three million of them are over the age of 50.  We can all agree that these figures understate the number of people who are out  of work.  The figures don’t include discouraged jobseekers who are no longer looking, severely underemployed people who are barely surviving financially, or unemployed older workers who would like to work, but have opted to claim their Social Security benefits at the earliest possible date because they couldn’t find jobs.

• It is currently estimated that there are more than four applicants for every job opening, but, of course, the reality is that the ratio is higher in certain industries and regions of the country.

•The average number of weeks that all workers are out of work is almost 40 weeks.  For workers who are 55-plus, the average amount of time is over 52 weeks.

Conclusion:

Even though the Great Recession ended according to economists in December 2009, it’s still tough to land a job, especially if you are 50-plus.  There’s no getting around this dismaying fact.

Last year, according to another WSJ story, Starbucks received 7.6 million applicants for 65,000 openings. That’s over 100 resumes per job!  Proctor and Gamble was inundated with one million applications for 2,000 jobs.  That’s 500 candidates per opening!  Human resource departments are overwhelmed by the deluge of applications and cannot evaluate them individually.

These odds are daunting, and jobseekers who are 50-plus need to find ways to distinguish themselves from the pack of job hunters.  They should seize the opportunity to use creative ways to demonstrate the value of their hard-won life experience and on-the-job wisdom, as well as their ability to stay current with industry trends and technology.

Our advice:

Embrace the new hiring trends bandwagon and get on it, however you can.

Upgrade your skills, create an online presence, make a video profile.  Differentiate yourself.  Demonstrate the power of your mature brain, which is better suited to problem solving and sifting through information to see patterns and find solutions, based on prior experience, than a younger brain.  Knowledgeable workers who can solve problems are the people companies hire.

“In the past workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle.  But today, average is officially over,” wrote Thomas Friedman in a recent NYT editorial.

Successful U.S. firms continue to find ways to be more productive with fewer workers.  Some of our interviewees figured out  labor market trends and the moral of Friedman’s story because they had first-hand experience with unemployment and suffered financially and personally.

Kevin Lincoln, 59, a former Wisconsin paper mill worker, lost his job as a result of the Great Recession.  He was among our first interviewees for Over 50 and Out of Work:

“I was so shocked when I went back up to converting, but in my last couple of days, they took me back up there to see where the company had gone.  I was so shocked, because when I first started, there was 25 people in a room.  30.  All making on one old machine.  Now, I go in there, there’s machinery everywhere and tracks and that, and they’re all computerized, and there’s three or four people in the same room.  But they outproduce that 30.”

Two years ago, when we met Kevin in Green Bay, he was on the verge of completing an associate’s degree as well as working part-time at a sporting goods store, but very disheartened about his future full-time job prospects.  He expresses his frustration in his video interview, but Kevin has turned out to be one of the few Over 50 interviewees who has been able to return to a full-time job with benefits, and he now works for NAPA, where he continues to advance in the company.

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