Job Hunting for Older, Displaced Workers

Article excerpt

Byline: Joan Lloyd

There's still a lot of bitterness out there. I experienced some of it first hand last week, while I was addressing a group of older, displaced workers, who wanted to learn the latest strategies for job hunting.

Many in the audience were displaced from a local plant that had closed. When they began their career, some more than twenty years earlier, they thought they would follow the same path their parents had. You know...get a job with one company that you could retire from.

One woman said, "Companies today just use workers. They use you until they don't need you anymore and then they just spit you out." Her bitterness was met with nods of agreement.

This generation of workers has seen the rules change-job security and loyalty have eroded on both sides of the employee/employer equation. And this evolution has surprised some older workers, who thought they had jobs for life. They feel angry and bitter. Unfortunately, this isn't going to help them find employment for the second half of their careers.

They don't see their plight as fallout from a global economy, brutal competition, costly raw materials, or expensive labor-some of the usual contributors in a company's decision to close its doors, or ship jobs to a different country. They see it as a personal betrayal.

Our dialogue that day ranged from how to be employable to how to change your outlook.

Here is some of the advice I hope they took to heart:

Exercise your attitude

Raging at a worker/employer covenant that is long gone is a futile exercise. It will only sap your energy and spoil opportunities that could be yours. Employers want to hire positive, forward-looking employees.

Anger easily seeps into interviews and I've even seen it in cover letters. I'll never forget a cover letter I once read from a laid off employee. He said, "I wasn't the superman they thought I should be." No employer wants to inherit a bitter employee who has a chip on his shoulder before he even walks in the door. If you can't get past it, work with a career counselor to help you put it behind you.

Overhaul your image

Some older workers haven't paid much attention to the latest fashion trends. …