Older Job Hunters Struggling To Find Work

Even as many pandemic unemployment benefits end and more people return to work, many businesses, especially frontline employers are facing a labor shortage for positions like delivery drivers, package handlers, grocery store clerks, health aides, teaching assistants, and restaurant staff.  But according to a recent Global News report, it remains a challenge for older job hunters to land a gig. 

Although there were more than 800,000 open jobs in Canada in July of this year, many job seekers over the age of 55 have had trouble getting past the initial screening or first interview.  Although older workers may have a wealth of experience and more flexibility, employers are still passing up older applicants.  Since long before the pandemic, ageism in the workplace has often excluded older employees from participating in training opportunities and promotions. 

Once a worker over 55 loses a job, it can become very difficult to find a new opportunity which is not only discouraging but can over time lead to dwindling self-esteem, depression, and other mental health issues.   Feeling useful and valued is an important part of aging well, and for job hunters who aren’t able to find work, their self-worth can be harmed making the job search even more difficult to tackle successfully. 

At the outset of the pandemic, many older, top-earning employees were laid off or handed an early retirement as a cost-cutting measure.  Now, as companies are re-hiring for these positions, they are interested in bringing on younger workers who will accept lower pay.  Researchers in the area of ageism in the workplace expect to soon see a rise in the number of age discrimination lawsuits filed as a result of these practices. 

Many older employees themselves decided to opt for early retirement because of the pandemic but now realize they aren’t ready to be out of the workforce completely or they can’t afford it.  But re-entering the labor force is tough for employees over 55 – and they may also be competing with younger workers who decided to make a career change as a result of COVID-19.  

Tips for Older Job Seekers

  • Don’t leave off graduation dates on a resume – it can be a red flag for hirers
  • Try to apply for jobs for which you are not highly overqualified  
  • Looks for a job that will be a good fit
  • Use your professional network to your advantage
  • Tailor your resume to the job you want – including the right keywords
  • Brush up on work-from-home technology
  • Consider taking some classes for a second-act career