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|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Fwd: Older and Out of Work, but Not Out of Contention
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From: Gail A. Magaliff, CEO, FEGS Health & Human Services
Subject: Older and Out of Work, but Not Out of Contention
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:43:00 -0400
[image: From the New York Times]
On Thursday, the 10 graduates celebrated over spoonfuls of yellow cake
with chocolate icing. They hugged, cheered and promised to stay
connected, fortifying themselves for the rough road ahead.
This was no ordinary graduation: The youngest to receive a certificate
was 50. The oldest was 74. They had college degrees, decades of
experience and had all savored sweet success in their careers.
What they didn’t have was work.
Our churning, unsettled economy knocked them right out of their
professional lives: Joyce Fish, a creative director, once oversaw art
and photo shoots for retailers like Net-a-Porter, J. Jill and Macy’s.
Susan Pearlstein worked as an accounts receivable manager in the food
industry. Sharon Cabelly was a senior medical secretary and a patient
advocate in local hospitals.
The women are in one of the toughest job markets for older workers in
recent memory. But last week, they were celebrating their renewed
confidence and newfound camaraderie after graduating from “
Experience2Work: Employment Boot Camp for Boomers
a four-week program designed to help out-of-work professionals who are
50 and older.
“I have never felt as solid about who I am and what I can bring to a
company,” said Ms. Fish
58, who has already lined up a networking meeting for this week. “But
it’s a roller coaster. I know it’s not going to be easy.”
She’s got that right. The Great Recession slammed older workers harder
than any other recession since the 1940s, according to the Center for
Retirement Research at Boston College. And those who have lost jobs
during this sluggish recovery often struggle to bounce back.
Workers over 54 remained unemployed for an average of 47 weeks in New
York City during the second half of 2013, compared with 41 weeks for the
labor force as a whole, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute
a research organization.
Older women have been hit hardest, finding themselves jobless for an
average of 56 weeks.
For the men and women who found their way to the boot camp, run by FEGS
Health & Human Services, a nonprofit social services agency, losing a
job was akin to being hit by a tidal wave. They expected to be enjoying
their professional status and financial stability in their 50s and 60s,
not cashing unemployment checks, dipping into retirement funds or
battling gnawing feelings of loss and self-doubt.
By the time they started the boot camp in SoHo, nearly everyone had
psychic wounds, invisible scars hidden beneath their button-down shirts
and turtleneck sweaters.
“I’ve been feeling like a ship without sails; I’ve always worked,”
explained Ms. Cabelly, who lost her job seven months ago. “Not to have a
job, not to have an income: How do you pick up the pieces? How do you
fill the void?”
With hard work. Week after week, she and the other job seekers refined
their résumés, honed their computer skills, practiced interviews,
polished their pitches and networked on social media with the guidance
of Anne Friedman, a career counselor and facilitator for the program.
(The boot camp is funded by the UJA-Federation of New York, which worked
with FEGS to design the program.)
There have been ups and downs. Ms. Fish snagged a meeting with a senior
executive who promised to connect her to the right people only to find
out that he thought her two-page résumé needed an overhaul. “It took the
wind out of me,” she said. But not for long. Soon, she had a succinct
Ms. Cabelly had two promising interviews with a hospital that seemed
eager to hire her, but they have a hiring freeze. She is keeping her
fingers crossed and her eyes open for other opportunities.
All told, 192 people have participated in the program in Manhattan since
it got started in August. Half were unemployed for at least a year when
they enrolled. Thirty-eight have found jobs so far. The competition is
But when the participants lamented about competing with 20- and
30-somethings who seemed born with keyboards attached to their
fingertips, Ms. Friedman set them straight.
“What can you do about your age?” she asked.
“Nothing,” the group chorused.
“There are things you can control,” she said. “You can control your
résumé. You can control your pitch. But you can’t roll back the clock.
You have maturity; don’t lose sight of that. You have so much to offer.”
They also have each other. By graduation day, one of the 10 graduates
had found a job. A couple of others had promising leads. But even when
the party was over, no one said goodbye.
Instead, they exchanged emails and phone numbers and see-you-real-soons.
They plan to keep in touch as they press ahead job searches in earnest
“The best part is that I don’t feel stuck anymore,” said Ms. Pearlstein,
who is 52. “And I don’t feel alone.”
[image: FEGS Website]
[image: Google Plus]