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MAKING MATURITY PAY

By Frank Kaiser

We play golf. We dance. We travel to exotic lands. Retirement is just one big, happy vacation, where the air is sweet, the water fresh, and the money everlasting.

That's the image marketers love.

I'll bet you my Rudy Vallee megaphone that you'll never see an ad for a senior product featuring a real-life, moth-eaten, desk-bound old working coot. Yet, millions of us past the age of 65 trudge off to work daily.

Some, like my friend, Larry, wouldn't have it any other way. "What else am I going to do?" he asks. Indeed, he has a good, secure position in a job he loves. I expect that he'll be there till he croaks.

But for many, many others of our certain age, bagging groceries or asking, "Do you want fries with that?" seem the only career opportunities now available. For most of us, it appears that F. Scott was right when he said, "There are no second acts in American lives."

It's been my experience — and that of many readers of Suddenly Senior — that most employers would rather hire a callow teenager than an experienced senior.

Part of it is psychological: Who wants to hire Mom? Or Dad? And part of is the law. The best way to avoid an age discrimination suit is to avoid hiring aged people in the first place.

That may be changing. It's beginning to dawn on some employers that today's seniors work harder, are less frequently late or absent, indeed have a stronger work ethic than any other age group. It's a fact proved over and over!

Sagacity Sometimes Trumps Exuberance

There are some jobs you need older folks for. The reinvigoration of an ancient, currently untaught computer language called COBOL has put thousands of over-the-hill computer coders back to work. And after a decade of youth-worshiping dot-com mentality, some companies now give older — even retired — workers the edge over youth. In tougher economic times like these, sagacity and stability occasionally trump vitality and exuberance.

Still, of all the reader mail I've received recently, the biggest gripe among seniors is the lack of decent employment opportunities.

More and more, I recommend that my readers use the Internet to find work. If they don't have a computer, their public library certainly does.

Although at least half the employment sites on Suddenly Senior's ever changing "111 Best Senior Sites" have died within the last year — casualties of dot-bombs and sluggish economic times — below are five that may help get you started toward a job like my friend Larry's.

Whatever happens, let "cunning and experience win out over youth and exuberance" be your mantra. Because old and poor just don't cut it.

AARP Working Options >http://www.aarp.org/working_options/home.html<

AARP, with its powerful base of 33 million seniors, often shrivels to wimp size when it comes to fighting for prescription drug and other needed benefits. But for finding work, this site is where every senior should begin. There are no jobs here, but there is help with everything from writing a new resume to turning your passion into a business. Good and current discussion board and a useful links page, too. (In fact, all sites mentioned have valuable links.)

Experience Works >http://www.experienceworks.org/index.html<

Also called Green Thumb. This is the oldest government employment, training and community service program for disadvantaged (low- or no-income) mature Americans. Experience Works claims that over the last three decades, nearly half a million older workers have participated in, and been helped by, this program.

Geezer.com >http://www.geezer.com/index.html<

If you're a home artisan, and would like to make a business out of it, this may be the place to start. It's a marketplace for more than 7,000 handcrafted products made by senior craftspersons like you. This not-for-profit venture of Experience Works, Inc., is a great place to set up shop to sell your clocks, candles, pillow covers, photography or furniture. Whatever your craft, sell (and buy) at Geezer.com.

Senior Job Bank >http://www.seniorjobbank.com/<

Here's an easy, effective and free site to find occasional, part-time, flexible, temporary and even full-time jobs. Links to employment by state and county.

Senior Community Service Employment Program >http://wdsc.doleta.gov/seniors/<

From the Department of Labor, this site explains how to receive training that may lead to employment positions that are not supported with federal funds.

Other employment sites can be found at http://www.suddenlysenior.com/links.shtml

© 2002 — Frank Kaiser


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THE FIRST RULE OF GEEZERDOM

I've learned there is one rule of senior living that's as immutable as gravity, God's Commandments, or Star Trek's Prime Directive. Learn what it is and how to cope. It's all here.


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