New View of Workplace Key to Boomer Job Seeker Success

October 14, 2009 ( - A new study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute reports that many Americans over the age of 55 plan to work at least until age 69, but that most who look for a job face challenges in finding one.

The research found in Buddy, Can You Spare a Job? The New Realities of the Job Market for Aging Baby Boomers suggests that to be successful older job-hunters must adapt to the changing workplace by adopting new attitudes, specific skills, and a fresh set of expectations. “Older job seekers who don’t recognize that they’re viewed differently in the job market are in for a rude awakening,” said David DeLong, author of the study, in a press release.

To better understand the market, the research suggests that boomers first identify nearby industries and organizations in the region that are stable or growing, then look for organizations with a workforce culture that respects all workers. Older job-seekers should look for opportunities in small- to medium-sized companies, which create the majority of new jobs, according to the press release.

The study indicates boomers may need to reframe their past experience to show future value. Boomers must identify and articulate what specific value they can bring to an organization, while simultaneously recognizing that their underlying skill set must constantly evolve. The most consistent finding from interviews during the study was the need for older job seekers to update their computer skills. Boomers should try the latest communication and networking technologies and be able to talk about them, the study suggests.

Older job seekers need to use their existing network, but should also develop new connections that are about learning. “Find a volunteer organization with younger people. It’s an advantage to be able to say, ‘I’ve been working with 20-year-olds,'” the press release said.

The research found that some boomers may be sabotaging their job search because of conflicting feelings about working or being retired. Despite financial need, a significant segment of those interviewed were ambivalent about staying in the labor force, and job counselors shared stories of program participants not performing well in job interviews because they were torn about success in their search.

MetLife suggests older job seekers should be clear about their actual financial needs, especially for consistent and stable sources of retirement income, as they struggle with making a decision about finding work.

The study combines a survey of 1,200+ individuals ages 55 to 70 with in-depth interviews of both job-seekers and employment experts.