CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The AARP is trying to help older West Virginians get back to work, giving tips on navigating online job applications and using networking tools like LinkedIn and adapting to a world where business is no longer done based just on a handshake.They will host a back to work informational session on Tuesday for Kanawha Valley residents 50 or older.The session will provide information on community resources, job trends, resume writing and network building."West Virginia does have an older population and what we found is when someone is 50 or older they stay unemployed longer," said Robin Bowman an AARP spokeswoman. "It's just changing their mindset and changing how they look for jobs."The program kicked off last month with a session discussing the "seven smart strategies" for re-entering today's job market. "It's a big learning curve, it's transitioning them into the world of LinkedIn and away from the traditional way of finding a job when they first entered the job market 30 or 40 years ago," said Tom Hunter, an AARP spokesman. "It certainly creates challenges but with back-to-work 50 plus, I think that's a great opportunity to ease the transition for those folks."Bowman said the program helps seniors address a variety of issues that may be keeping them from employment. At each session there is someone to help participants write their resume, find transportation or housing and apply for grant money for continuing education."We want them to have confidence when they go to an interview. We want them to feel comfortable and that they bring something to the table," Bowman said. "A lot of these folks are kind of beat down, discouraged and think all the young workers are taking up the jobs and they don't need me."
After last month's session, Bowman said two participants have already found work.Hunter believes the region values older workers."Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, companies really prided themselves on customer service, and that was a key element in the success of their business. You're talking about a generation where business was done on a handshake, that's not the way business is done today," he said. "So to have those skills and be able to bring them back into the workforce and foster and grow a business today, that's what employers are looking for and they're looking at older workers to do that."Bowman said the program would evolve as needed. After each event they will ask participants for feedback."It's not what we think you need, we want to know what you really need," she added.The event will take place July 2, at 10 a.m. at Goodwill Industries on Virginia Street West in Charleston.The session is free with limited seating and reservations are required. To sign up, call the AARP Foundation at 1-855-850-2525 and select back to work 50 plus.
AARP is sponsoring the program along with Charleston-Kanawha Housing Authority, Goodwill Industries of the Kanawha Valley, Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College, Manpower, Metropolitan Community Development Corporation, Region III WorkForce Investment Board, Strategic Planning in Occupational Knowledge for Employment and Success, Senior Community Service Employment Program and WorkForce West Virginia. Reach Caitlin Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5113.