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AARP as Exhibit A for older job seekers: Bromides for Golden Oldies

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I first came to this part of AARP's website after a good friend had given me the web address. My friend is a member of AARP and has been a member for some time now. I have never been a member of AARP although I'm interested in many of the things that are talked about on AARP's website. Both my friend and I need work.

About seventeen years ago, I began creating forums in the jobs section of Washingtonpost.com. I was the only one who was asking elemental yet tough questions about certain governmental job practices at the time including the need to fill out KSAs for jobs and the efficacy of Human Resources. No one else was doing it. So, I thought I would pore over this part of AARP's website and say publicly what I thought it had to offer. After all, both my friend and I need work and what better place to start than here.

After going over AARP's site, I think it is truly shameful. Many of us who are older need work so you have to ask incredulously, "Is this is the best that they can come up with?" Many of the things that are mentioned on this site will not get you a job but will leave you extremely frustrated—AARP's lazy copy and paste operations masquerading as something substantial.

I went off looking at what some of AARP's own internal job seeking practices would reveal. In case after case, you see a lot of internships listed. Internships normally go to young people. Now don't get me wrong, I was once that age. I would have loved an internship. Internships allow young people to get their foot in the door and get a realistic taste of what it's like to work at something new. That's great but what does that communicate about older people? It's saying that there's this realm that older people can't participate in. They can't get their foot in the door and learn something new. AARP ends up saying one thing for public consumption but doing another.

As for AARP's mentioning of resumes and cover letters, that too is extremely wrongheaded. Over many decades before digital, Human Resources was that organizational entity of very few words—"just send in your resume." Most people at the time did not get a job by sending in a resume. An extraordinary volume of applicants, the spawning of a culture of dishonesty by HR, and a scarcity of judging people as individuals conspired to leave most applicants frustrated and high and dry. The same has held true through the digital Age. For the digital Age, we have big, unwieldy job boards and LinkedIn that are both great at self-promotion but lousy at getting people jobs. The evidence would indicate that. We now have Automated Tracking systems—also known as keywording—that end up squelching any individuality or initiative. Older people beware!

There is also the so-called gig economy. A columnist at The Washington Post wrote about it recently. Despite what you might have heard, the evidence seems to indicate that these jobs have not taken us to employment heaven. I call it the gyp economy where those who yearn for flexibility and independence end up working their tail off while earning a paltry sum. In my area, the gig economy is divided into three areas: dog walking, delivery/shopping jobs, and customer service in various incarnations. Not everyone is primed for or would be good at these jobs.

Government programs slanted towards older people are mentioned on this site like SEE. I've looked closely at these programs and in my own neck of the woods, most will pay about $12 an hour. I guess people think that older people need to feel thankful at what few crumbs are tossed their way. Some consider these jobs marvelous opportunities. I consider it exploitation of older people as well as short-sighted governmental thinking.

Any older person on this site should also be wary of job fairs--hiring managers are seldom on the floor--as well as job clubs--misery as company that, more often than not, won't get you a job.

Rather than following up on misbegotten bromides from this very site, I would first look at those in the trenches like Peter Cappelli and Nick Corcodilos. You should google them. They are more realistic (and accurate) than anyone else. No matter what you might have heard, the job seeking system is a broken system. Companies seem clueless as to what's causing these difficulties. At the very same time, these same companies sport labyrinthine systems that make it difficult for those on the outside to communicate with them. Very, very few people are talking about what really needs to be done—and in this case, the job seeking needs of older Americans. Caveat, emptor!

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