Number of Older Adults Seeking Employment on the Rise

Richard Foxman

You enter the labor force, you work until a certain age, and you retire. Or maybe you don’t. More and more people are working into their later years, a trend that is expected to continue.

People are working later in life for a number of reasons. They are healthier, better educated and want to stay active in the community, increasing their likelihood of staying in the labor force. And changes to Social Security benefits and employee retirement plans, along with the need to save more for retirement, create incentives to keep working(1).

In the July job report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent with increased employment in professional and business services, manufacturing and health care. According to the BLS, about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. That number is expected to increase fastest for the oldest segments of the population—most notably, people ages 65 to 74 and 75 and older—through 2024.

For thirteen years, Richard Foxman was a Human Resources executive at both the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the state’s largest agency, Healthcare and Family Services. There, he was responsible for 2,400 employees, and managed the expansion of Medicaid that came about with the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, his department was reorganized and Richard found himself out of work. Richard is representative of the 55 and older candidate. 

In April, Richard turned to JVS Chicago (JVS), part of JCFS’s family of services that specializes in career and employment, to help him navigate the job marketsomething he hasn’t had to do in more than a decade. One significant change that Richard had to adjust to, along with many other older adults, is the use of advanced technology in the job search process. It is no longer necessary to be in the same room to conduct an interview, and new software programs allow companies to vet potential candidates before they even meet them. “I’ve noticed with the use of the internet and social media, there is more speed and automation to the process,” said Richard.

Jeffrey Blumenfeld, Director of Career Services at JVS, recently discussed Artificial Intelligence and its implications for job seekers during a recent The 21st Show podcast, “Artificial Intelligence in Hiring.” Jeff works to train people to apply for jobs using digital tools and says that it can be very difficult to interview with a computer for a lot of people. "It’s a real mixed bag at this point in time. You find the biggest disparity in an age group of individuals who didn't grow up with technology," says Jeff. "But they're as good as anyone else in terms of their skill set."

Richard is working with a JVS career counselor to brush up on his interviewing skills, update his resume and to help connect him with job opportunities that match his strengths. He has also participated in workshops that teach the basics of LinkedIn and other social media platforms, and attends networking events in the community. 

Although a job search takes time and effort, Richard is committed to the process and won’t let this transition deter him. “I have a lot of energy and passion for my profession, and I want to continue to contribute to the workforce,” he states. “Everyone at JVS is very professional, supportive and attentive to my needs. The best part is being able to share ideas and role play with other job seekers (of all ages) who can offer insight about their experiences first-hand. We mentor each other.”

 

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics