South-Western - Management  
Getting a Foot in the Door at 50-Plus
Topic Human Resources Management
InfoTrac Reference CJ141736047
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Key Words Job applicants, recruiting, interviewing
News Story

Professionals in their 50s who find themselves downsized out of their jobs are increasingly choosing to stay in the workforce. Finding a new position, though, means they must convince prospective employers that they have the ability to learn and the energy to work as hard as younger applicants. They also might have to convince interviewers that they are willing to work for a younger boss, and perhaps earn a smaller paycheck than in the past.

According to a December 2005 retirement study from AARP, 68% of older workers plan to work full time after the traditional retirement age. 75% of the workers in the survey expected to continue working until they were at least 65. Reasons to continue working include the desire to stay mentally active, and the need for income and health benefits.

Kate Wendelton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a career-counseling network, offers some tips to help older applicants overcome any challenges they might face during the screening and interviewing process for a new position. First, the interviewer needs to be convinced that you really want the job you are applying for. Fifty-somethings should also attempt to convey that they have a lot of energy. Even though interviewers are not allowed to ask about retirement plans, if you sense it is a problem, you should convey that you are planning to work for at least the next fifteen years. Also, the worst thing an applicant can do is be dismissive of a youthful-looking interviewer. Wendleton also advises updating wardrobes and coloring hair to project a youthful appearance.

High pay can be a problem for older workers too. Be ready to negotiate on salary, and possibly accept a much lower salary than what you were previously making.


What type of employment legislation mandates that recruiters cannot ask an applicant about his or her retirement plans during an interview?


What are some of the perceived risks that applicants over 50 must overcome when they are applying for a position? What are some potential benefits that a person over 50 might bring to a company?


With the trend of many older workers planning to extend their working years past the traditional retirement age, along with the shortage of workers that the baby boomers' impending retirement will bring, what types of human resource programs do you think companies will begin to offer? What new HR trends will we see in twenty years time?

Source "Getting a Foot in the Door at 50-Plus,"Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2006, page B8.
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