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Job Hunting 2.0

Posted on 02/15/2013 by |All the news that matters for Illinoisans over 50. | Comments

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AARP Illinois Blog - Job Hunting 2.0Hello again from Allie the intern!

My dad is on the job hunt.

I know what you’re thinking: so what? In this economy, he joins many millions on this ever-changing quest (including his daughter). But he’s in a particularly tricky situation.

An accident in September of 2009 left my dad with a crushed left hand. After six surgeries (and probably more in the future) with the best hand surgeon in Chicago, his hand lost the ring finger and has extremely limited dexterity, mobility and sensitivity. He deals with constant pain, and thanks to extensive nerve damage, a severe problem dealing with cool, let alone cold conditions. He was a multiple Emmy-award winning television cameraman for 30 years and ran his own freelance business…but now he can never be a professional videographer again. In the 3+ years since the accident, the freelance company quietly folded as he was forced to send work elsewhere.

Needless to say, my dad has a resilient spirit. He’s very much looking forward to working again, which he was unable to do while dealing with multiple surgeries, seemingly endless occupational therapy sessions, procrastinating insurance companies and a highly impersonal legal system. So, he’ll be cleared to work soon – what will he be able to do? This is not a friendly economy for a disabled older worker with a very specific background.

That’s where AARP comes in.  Our new Life Reimagined and Possibilities tools are meant for just such an occasion. As part of our Work Reimagined spotlight, I hope to follow his journey as a blog series right here. Welcome to the very first entry!

I would bet that there are a lot of folks out there who are in a similar position to my dad – looking for work with no tools, no resume, and not a particularly diverse realm of experience. How do you even begin the job hunt? Here are my tips:

  • First, figure out what you’re good at – and what you love to do. I don’t mean “sales” or “contract negotiation” here. I mean the basics. Do you enjoy coordinating people? Are you creative? Does working a spreadsheet out make you giddy? Make a list of these skills as your jumping-off point. Utilize AARP’s Life Reimagined to find the calling cards – and thus careers – that are right for you! (If you’re still having trouble coming up with your basic skills, stick around. Going through the rest of this list will help!)
  • Make a list of your favorite times at work. Let’s be honest: you probably didn’t love every second of every day at your job. Focus on what made your past job so enjoyable. I did this not too long after graduating college, and I realized that one of the best parts of my work experience was running the social media campaigns for my dorm group. I focused on that skill, and here I am – a social media professional! You may be surprised to discover that the pieces you oversaw in your past job are new jobs in and of themselves.
  • Volunteer. There are so many reasons why volunteering is a great way to spend your time while unemployed. First of all, it keeps you busy. Fighting off depression and anxiety is key when you’re in this situation. Volunteering gets you out of the house and doing good for others (and often for those who have less than you). Volunteering looks great on your resume. It shows that you want to be doing something and making a difference in some way. Often, the skills you pick up while volunteering are transferable to paid work. Not only does this look good to a potential employer, it helps you figure out what you want to do. And, of course, you’re bound to meet other people while you volunteer. In the job hunting world, we call this “networking”. Get to know other people; offer to help them if you can. They might just have a job lead for you in return. Find volunteer opportunities near you with AARP’s Create the Good or other websites like VolunteerMatch. You can even volunteer from home and build your portfolio with volunteer sites like Sparked.

I’ll be recommending my dad start with these. Perhaps we’ll be able to figure out something he’d like to do now! The world is his oyster – and it’s yours, too.

What skills are you discovering you want to pursue? Leave us a comment below! (And stay tuned as my dad plunges into the job world headfirst!)