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Old 07-26-2010, 09:31 AM
 
4 posts, read 3,845 times
Reputation: 13

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Age 54, too young to retire, too old to be hired. That is me!

I am at my wits end trying to find a job. Until early 2009 I was a successful business executive with a great job as a Operations Manager for a great company. That was until January 6th. I was pulled into my bosses office and told that I was being laid off for economic reasons. They just could not afford me anymore. My duties were fanned out to three different employees none of them had any experience or knowledge in my career.

I begged, I pleaded and screamed for them to reconsider. My boss just stared at me. Didn't say a word after his initial comments which were read off a script. I left in tears.

Fast forward to July 2010 and I have applied at hundreds of companies and only had 3 interviews. Once they saw my grey hair and wrinkles the interview was cut short. All my friends have cut me off and called me lazy. People talk about me behind my back. They say they know it is tough out there but think I am not trying hard enough. My relatives all have different points of view on my resume and give conflicting advice. My resume has been updated dozens of times.

Here is what I would like answered:

Should I dye my grey hair brown?

How far back should I go on my resume. 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?

What should I say I have been doing since January 2009?

How can I apply for jobs that pay half of what I was making when they would see my last salary was $76K.

If I fill out an on line employment application should I put my date of birth on it if they ask or make up a number? How about the year of my high school graduation?

Is there hope? Know any long term unemployed people in their 50s who got back on their feet?
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:46 AM
 
63 posts, read 235,231 times
Reputation: 53
Default Don't give up

There are many who are in the same situation as you. Don't give up, no matter what. Regarding your questions. First, you should definitely dye your hair. You want to look the part and act the part. Also, check out your wardrobe. Is it dated? Get one or two pieces that will give you a fresh look. Just going out in something new will improve your attitude.

Second, never lie or misrepresent on an online application. I have said this in other postings and I will say it again. Employers have a way of checking everything these days. We are in a Big Brother society. Even if your age is costing you a job, you are still better off waiting for a firm to recognize your worth than fudging the details. Regarding your gap in employment, find something freelance to fill in the time with. No, it is not the same as working in your field, but it will at least look like you are doing something.

Third, think about your location. In some cases, I think it makes sense to move to where there are jobs. It is a risk and it could cost big time if it doesn't work out. But the alternative could be never going back to work in your field if you stuck in a location that is severely depressed. Research the best markets for your field and consider what you need to do to get there.

Finally, be prepared to take less if it will get you back to work in your field. Think of it as a survival strategy. It sucks and it is not fair. Unfortunately, life is not fair. If you are in a major metropolitan area, go the the various temporary agencies and sign up. They might at least be able to get you in the door someplace.

Whatever you do, don't give up, ever. You are too young to walk away. We all want this situation to turn around. If enough people keep on trying, even in the face what seems like insurmountable odds, maybe the economy will improve.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Simmering in DFW
6,948 posts, read 19,452,381 times
Reputation: 7208
Look as young as possible. Only go back 10 years on experience. You have been "free-lancing" since the job ended.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:05 AM
 
Location: NYC
7,370 posts, read 12,754,271 times
Reputation: 10319
Sorry you are going through this - it's something we all may have to face sooner or later.

I am 14 years younger than you, yet I do not put down my birthdate nor HS graduation date.

Perhaps you need to open up your job search to other cities/states? Surely there is someone out there who is looking for a person with your level of experience.

Good luck!
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Orlando, Florida
43,858 posts, read 44,592,715 times
Reputation: 58621
I'm 50 and barely hanging onto the job I currently have....making half of what I used to. I don't know if there are any clear answers. Yes, I would color the gray and try to put together a resume avoiding actual birth year and graduation dates. Try to make it more generic with '10 years experience doing this' type of format. Don't go into past salary if you can avoid it. As bad as it sounds, just down-play your previous job title(s).
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:17 AM
 
4 posts, read 3,845 times
Reputation: 13
Thanks for the advice so far. I want to clarify somethings:

I live in the Minneapolis area which has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and am a home owner with an upside down mortgage so relocating is not an issue.

I have studied Microsoft Office and scored really high in all the tests I took in Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher. But even though my score is really high the temp agencies always tell me they are looking for someone with a different skill set. A relative of mine who is 27 years old applied at the same temp agencies and has been sent out to quite a few assignments. I think I do not look the part. The temp agencies want a young female to send out to their clients not an old man. My scores on the clerical, grammar and Microsoft Office tests are not the issue.

I suspect they think I am over qualified for 90% of jobs in my general field. I can dummy down my resume somewhat but in the end they will know I am 54 and used to make over $70K. My situation is nearly impossible.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:25 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 36,394,931 times
Reputation: 20198
It is illegal to require applicants to divulge their age during the application phase. They can ask "are you of a legal age to work this job in this state? Yes or no?" They can ask you if you're over 21, if your job involves serving alcohol, for example. But they can't ask you what your age actually is. If there's an online application that won't let you go past that without filling in something, then I'd wonder if I really want to work for a company that breaks the law so early on in the game. What kinds of violations of the EO laws will they commit against you after you've been hired?

As for dying your hair, that's a personal decision. If you are comforable in your own skin, then wear it proudly, maybe get a new cut and style just to update the look. If you don't like being grey and would feel more comfortable in a new color, go for it, and be confident in it. An interviewer is looking not only for qualifications, but they're looking for someone who displays confidence in their personal presentation. If that's dyed, then it's dyed. If it's sparkly silver, then that's what it is.

As for salary, there's no reason why anyone needs to know you were making $75k. Again, if they require it on an online application and won't let you continue the application without filling something in, then put in $1.00. Your personal finances prior to seeking employment with a particular company, is none of that particular company's business.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:27 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 36,394,931 times
Reputation: 20198
Temp agencies work differently than actual employment - they CAN get your age, if they sign you into their system. That's because they're hiring you as a temp. You are employed by them, even though you're only collecting a salary during the weeks that you are assigned to a job.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 82,968,211 times
Reputation: 17509
Quote:
Originally Posted by Long Term Unemployed View Post
I live in the Minneapolis area which has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and am a home owner with an upside down mortgage so relocating is not an issue.

Did you mean "not an option" which is completely the opposite of "not an issue"? The sentence context implies you are unwilling to move but "not an issue" implies you have no problems moving.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:39 AM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
4,085 posts, read 11,450,469 times
Reputation: 1942
Quote:
Originally Posted by Long Term Unemployed View Post
Age 54, too young to retire, too old to be hired. That is me!

I am at my wits end trying to find a job. Until early 2009 I was a successful business executive with a great job as a Operations Manager for a great company. That was until January 6th. I was pulled into my bosses office and told that I was being laid off for economic reasons. They just could not afford me anymore. My duties were fanned out to three different employees none of them had any experience or knowledge in my career.

I begged, I pleaded and screamed for them to reconsider. My boss just stared at me. Didn't say a word after his initial comments which were read off a script. I left in tears.

Fast forward to July 2010 and I have applied at hundreds of companies and only had 3 interviews. Once they saw my grey hair and wrinkles the interview was cut short. All my friends have cut me off and called me lazy. People talk about me behind my back. They say they know it is tough out there but think I am not trying hard enough. My relatives all have different points of view on my resume and give conflicting advice. My resume has been updated dozens of times.

Here is what I would like answered:

Should I dye my grey hair brown?

How far back should I go on my resume. 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?

What should I say I have been doing since January 2009?

How can I apply for jobs that pay half of what I was making when they would see my last salary was $76K.

If I fill out an on line employment application should I put my date of birth on it if they ask or make up a number? How about the year of my high school graduation?

Is there hope? Know any long term unemployed people in their 50s who got back on their feet?
I think you would benefit greatly from job counseling and resume review. I don't know what industry you were in before, but you might try transitioning into an industry that is relatively easy to get into, like retail. You should have transferable skills to land you a job there. But you might expect a pay cut. And yes, dye your hair. Brush up on computer skills. Do some volunteer work and maybe gain some new skills in the process. Scale back or embellish your resume as appropriate to the position you're applying to. Anything to help give you an edge and show potential employers that your skills are current and you're still employable.
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