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How One Caregiver Got Hired After 60

Learning to overcome age bias was the key to returning to the workforce

Video: Woman Combats Age Discrimination to Return to Workforce

Finding a job after taking more than a few months off from working can be hard. Most employers will want to know why you left your previous position, what you’ve been doing since you stopped working, and why you are qualified for this job opening now.

And, for job seekers age 50 and older, perhaps the biggest question employers will have — but most often won’t ask — is whether you’re too old to hire. A recent AARP survey of older adults found nearly half of all unemployed job seekers 50-plus said age discrimination hurt their ability to get a job.

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One of the most effective ways to beat age bias in the hiring process is to be properly prepared for it, as Dawn Parks discovered. Parks, now 62, had been working as a transportation security officer at Philadelphia International Airport for nearly 20 years when she left the position in the summer of 2021. Parks was a caregiver for her mother, who had brain cancer and later died of COVID.  

“After my mom died and I had an injury that made it difficult to work full time, I decided to retire,” Parks tells AARP. “But I always intended to come back to the workforce part time, working on my own terms. I knew I had more to give. I just needed a break.”

Six months later, Parks started a job search that lasted for roughly one and a half years before she landed a position as a restaurant hostess at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies baseball team.  

“I thought with all my experience it would be no problem finding a new job, but that just wasn’t the reality,” she says.

The turning point in her job search process came when she connected with AARP for help. The organization provided her with resources and guidance on how to get hired as an older worker. 

“I learned how to prepare for job interviews,” Parks says. “I revamped my résumé and removed dates and jobs that were over 10 years old. I also learned how to use keywords in my résumé and cover letter to make sure my experience spoke to the skills they were looking for. Just having access to these resources made me believe that I was capable of finding another job.” 

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