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Get New Work Experience and Skills

Start your job search as soon as you can and look for ways to stay connected to the workplace and get new skills.

Nurse checking medical records. Back to work at 50+ (Getty Images)

If your job search is taking longer than expected, look for ways to stay connected to the workplace and get new skills. Consider volunteering, temp or part-time work.  Also, think about going back to school or connecting with organizations who find job candidates for employers.

Consider going back to school to learn something new

There are over 1,000 community colleges around the country providing local training classes for typically far lower costs and less rigorous entrance requirements than a four-year college. They tend to have smaller campuses and smaller class sizes with schedules that accommodate full-time professionals, parents or other individuals who need to attend school in the evenings or on the weekends. The American Association of Community Colleges organized the Plus 50 Initiative to support new programs specifically designed for people 50 and older. It’s never too late to start! Find a community college near you.

Related: Back to School at Midlife

Build your skills and your résumé with volunteering

Consider volunteering, where you’ll learn something new and keep busy. Maybe you want to explore a new field of interest or observe a person who has the job you might like. You can include your volunteer work on your résumé. Volunteering is helpful in masking gaps in your work history.

AARP’s Create the Good website has lots of volunteer opportunities that you can do for five minutes, five hours or five days. You decide.

AmeriCorps helps interested volunteers by offering opportunities to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups.  Most AmeriCorps members receive modest compensation and an education award.

Connect with organizations that find job candidates for employers

For some, finding a job might be more of a need rather than a desire, but in either case you should look for ways to stay connected to the workplace and keep your skills fresh. If finding a job is more of a need for you, consider connecting with organizations that find job candidates for employers. You are good at what you do.

AARP Foundation Senior Community Service Employment Program (AARP Foundation SCSEP) recognizes that older workers are a valuable resource for the 21st century workforce. AARP Foundation SCSEP is a community service and work-based training program for jobseekers 55 and older. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, and administered by non-profits throughout the country, the program provides subsidized, service-based training for low-income persons who are 55 or older and who are unemployed.

To find Senior Community Service Employment Programs in your area: call the toll-free help line at 877-US2-JOBS (877-872-5627) or use their program locator.

Staffing agencies or firms — sometimes referred to as recruiting, employment or placement agencies — are used by employers to supplement their own hiring process. The employer pays a fee to the agency, which hires recruiters (sometimes referred to as headhunters) to comb their network to find the best match. If you have work experience and strong skills, you should contact a staffing agency and get a recruiter to help you in your job search.

Related: What you need to know about temping

Some staffing agencies specialize in temporary work, while others focus on finding employees for full-time positions. They may specialize in specific industries or businesses. Another important piece of information for the jobseeker to know is when applying for a job with a staffing agency, make sure to note whether the job is direct hire, contract to hire or temporary contract.

Related: Learn more about staffing firms

Consider entry-level and part-time positions

Sometimes experienced workers turn down entry-level and part-time positions because they feel it is beneath their pay scale, education or just plain beneath them! These jobs offer an opportunity to get your foot in the door with a company. Think of it as a paid interview. You wouldn’t pass that up, would you? Temporary jobs can lead to full-time positions at the same company. Employers will take notice of an excellent employee who happens to qualify for other positions within the company. Networking from the inside can be more effective than networking from the outside.

Additionally, temporary positions are great for people who haven’t worked for many years or who may have gaps in their employment record. Temporary work could also give you the chance to get the skills and confidence you need to get back into the rhythm of getting up each day, traveling to work, reporting to a supervisor and working as a team player.

Related: Why part-time or contract work is worth it

Your job search plan should include setting aside time to focus on yourself and to stay strong.  We have a few tips to help you to stay focused, and stay strong and positive all the way through the job search.

Next: Take time to focus on yourself and stay strong

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