Posted on 08 September 2011
By Mark Miller
Last week’s dismal unemployment report contained what looks like a glimmer of hope for older workers. The August jobless rate for workers over 55 was 6.6 percent – far below the 9.1 percent national average.
But the August jobless numbers masks broader weakness in the job market for older Americans, because it measures only workers actively seeking employment. Many older workers have given up looking, and older workers who do lose their jobs tend to remain jobless much longer than their younger counterparts – if they are able to find new work at all. And those who do find new work most often accept jobs with lower pay and less valuable benefits. So, to state the obvious: the best strategy for staying employed after age 50 is to keep the job you have, if at all possible.
Easier said than done, you say — and I agree. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to boost your odds of staying employed, argues Alan Sklover, an attorney who has represented or coached hundreds of older workers in employment cases over his 30-year career. He also coaches older workers facing firings, downsizings or layoff.
Sklover acknowledges that age discrimination is “rampant” in the workplace — but he also says it is “natural and normal,” even though it’s illegal, adding that “We all make judgments based on age, no matter what anyone says.”
That means it’s that much more important for older workers to “find ways to enhance job security by making yourself indispensable.” In my column this week at Reuters Money, Sklover offers eight strategies for enhancing job security that have worked well over the years for his older clients.