Aaron LaRoy

Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack.

This sound now represents the full time job of the unemployed in Kalamazoo.  Several years ago, people without jobs would spend their time going from office to office, filling out applications at each business that was looking for someone to hire.  Technology has changed all of that.  Today, job seekers plop down on their couch with a glass of lemonade, fire up the computer, and start clacking.

Due to this new method of job searching, a lot of mature workers, generally age 45 and older, find themselves at a disadvantage.

“The older the worker, the more likely they are to have a problem using technology,” says Susan Houseman, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Michigan Works! offers numerous services to help job seekers find work that suits their skills. It offers a workshop specifically tailored for the mature worker, as well as a few workshops on developing computer and technological skills.

Houseman says that many companies have moved away from advertising employment opportunities in newspapers and now strictly post job openings online.  Since some older workers are not accustomed to using a computer, their job search becomes even more difficult.

“Older workers may not have computers, or they just aren’t as skilled or comfortable with them,” says Houseman.

OLD-FASHIONED NETWORKING IS STILL ESSENTIAL

Searching through job postings online is just one way to find employment, though.  The people a prospective worker knows can also help that worker find a job.

“Networking is the number one way to find a job,” says Kathy Olsen, the marketing and community information coordinator of Kalamazoo Michigan WORKS! Most of those connections are now made online, too, usually through social media.

Olsen says that mature workers with a small amount of technological savvy find it harder to research companies as well.  Unemployed people can use the web to research and discover a lot about a business before they apply.  Job searching isn’t just about the company finding the person who is the right fit for them; it’s about the worker finding the company they want to work for.

“What a person can use Facebook for is you can learn about a company, because it’s more of their fun page,” Olsen said.  “They may be involved in philanthropy or in a community event and when you see things like that posted on their page, it helps you evaluate if this is a company you want to work for.”

“We always teach people to research the companies,” Olsen said.  “There is so much you can learn about a company on their website and on their social media pages.”

As time goes by, more and more people will become accustomed to using the internet to find work.

“I would imagine that more and more people are learning those skills, but you’re still going to see a gap between older and younger workers,” says Houseman.

For those that are having difficulty with the new methods of job hunting, Houseman recommended that they seek help from an agency like Michigan Works! “That may be an easier route for those that are having trouble getting a foot in the door.”

Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack.

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