A program taking place in West Hartford this September will assist older workers in navigating today’s job market.
By Ronni Newton
The ever-changing employment market can be a challenge for anyone, and while recent college graduates may struggle to get the initial level of experience to qualify for a job, those with a wealth of experience may also have difficulty finding their next opportunity.
The Seniors Job Bank, in collaboration with the West Hartford Senior Center, has scheduled a free all-day workshop that addresses many of the concerns, issues, obstacles, and insecurities that older employees face when making decisions about emerging from retirement or re-entering the workforce – which could be prompted by a change in economic situation, or a desire to switch jobs or careers.
“Working Into Retirement and Beyond!” will be held at the Bishops Corner branch of the West Hartford Senior Center at 15 Starkel Road, on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The workshop is being funded through a grant from the West Hartford Better Together Community Fund, and lunch and snacks are included.
Each speaker will have a presentation of 10 minutes or less, with plenty of opportunity for Q&A, said Seniors Job Bank Director Robin Clare. “It’s like a TED Talk.” There will also be a networking lunch.
- Weighing the work decision – the need or desire to work
- Taking stock of you – your natural gifts, or skills you may have acquired and want to use that weren’t part of your past job title. Clare herself said she had more than 12 years of event planning experience, but that wasn’t really reflected on her resume
- Making your hobby your job, which is something many never consider
- Assessing the job market. Some jobs may not be the best for seniors because they require standing all day
- Dealing with perceptions and bias
- Attracting what you most want – your mindset and positive beliefs
- Self-care for experienced adults to help keep up your stamina
- Finding balance in your life
- Calculating your financial impact
- Technology, or non-technology jobs. Not every job is high-tech.
“We’re really excited about this at the Senior Center,” said Becky Sears, director of West Hartford Senior Centers. Their members often face uncertainty when looking to re-enter the workforce, whether it’s because they took a break due to the pandemic or some other reason.
West Hartford Senior Centers serve anyone age 55 or older, and the Seniors Job Bank works with those 50 and above – ages that incorporate not only the youngest of the Baby Boomers but also members of Generation X – who may face issues related to ageism, and barriers related to perceived or actual ability to handle job tasks related to social media or technology.
The target audience for the workshop is “anybody 50 or older who is retiring or looking to pivot,” Sears said.
They may need to, or want to work, added Clare.
Some seniors may be embarrassed about not having certain skills. Each attendee at the workshop will be entered into a drawing to receive a set of six technology lessons at the Elmwood Community Center computer lab.
“I think it’s a really great partnership for our seniors because they feel safe,” Sears said of the collaboration with the Seniors Job Bank.
To register, call 860-521-3210 or email [email protected].
Needed: business partners as well as potential employees
Clare said many of those who register with the Seniors Job Bank “have so much wisdom, so much energy, so much more to give,” skills that are sought-after in the workplace.
The Seniors Job Bank, which is physically located at West Hartford Town Hall but is a private, nonprofit organization that serves the entire region, doesn’t place people who are looking for volunteer opportunities, but rather those looking for paid employment – which could be part-time as well as full-time, long-term as well as short-term.
There is no cost to either the job seekers or employers who use the organization’s services.
“We have a lot of amazing talent, but what we really need are jobs,” Clare said.
While area residents may think of contacting the Seniors Job Bank when they are looking for a handyman or have another contractor-type need, Clare said they would love to be able to offer more office-type positions. “We have a lot of job seekers who are business people,” she said. “They’re willing to work for nonprofits, for municipalities …”
The Seniors Job Bank practices what it preaches, with the organization “run by the demographics of our clientele,” Clare said.
Ann Wood was recently hired to work as Clare’s assistant in the Town Hall office of the Seniors Job Bank.
“My perception of the Senior Job Bank years ago was different,” said Wood, who has a background in sales and recently moved to Central Connecticut. She was previously involved with the JETS program at Jewish Family Services, which provided vocational counseling, networking opportunities, and job search assistance but as of May 2023 merged with another organization.
West Hartford resident Lisa Mahoney is a seasoned marketing professional who is working with the Seniors Job Bank as a consultant, trying to help the organization expand its reach. Personally, she said, she is also excited about future opportunities she may find through the organization to use the skills she has outside of marketing and communications, “to find more rounded ways to work,” she said.
In her role assistant the Seniors Job Bank, Mahoney said she will be connecting with community partners throughout the region – chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, senior centers, and libraries.
The process of registering with the Seniors Job Bank is personal. You meet a volunteer, in person. They ask pertinent questions, much more in-depth than you would experience if you’re job hunting through Indeed or LinkedIn.
Employers are given a list of potential candidates based on their needs matching up with the skills of the Job Bank candidates in their database, but the process doesn’t end there.
“If we can turn up the light about what’s unique about this place,” Mahoney said, it can have greater impact.
“There’s a level of realism, authenticity,” added Sears.
“We touch them, we call everybody back,” said Clare, something which many find shocking in today’s environment.
“It’s this win-win. It’s a connection and all the sparks that fly,” Wood said.
The Seniors Job Bank was originally founded in 1974 and has evolved over time, but those involved with the organization know they can have an even more vital role today.
Clare was appointed executive director in February 2023, and wants to make sure the community knows that they are a resource to the entire region and despite the location of the office in Room 216 of West Hartford Town Hall, they are not a town department. “We are a private, nonprofit, and we live on generous donations and grants,” she said.
“The reason we fundraiser is not only to provide this service, but also to expand the reach,” Mahoney said.
While many organizations closed their doors or fundamentally altered their operations due to the pandemic, the Seniors Job Bank sees new changes in the job market as new opportunities.
For more information about the Seniors Job Bank, visit their website seniorsjobbankct.org.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.