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    Career Assessment for Older Job Seekers

    One of the first steps to take in any search for a new job is to perform a self-assessment—what are you interested in, what might you be good at, and what fields or job types match with those.

    This goes even for older workers; if you’re looking for a career, you should do an assessment. Here’s how.

    Understanding Career Choice

    Being over 50 doesn’t mean that you need to settle for just any job. In fact, you’ll be more successful and have better results in your employment if you perform an assessment before starting. The reason why is simple: You’ll be more motivated if you’re doing work that you’re good at and care about. You should also continue to assess yourself as you advance.

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself in your assessment:

    1. What job best matches your interests, skills and abilities?
    2. Does the labor market demand indicate that your job choice is a reasonable goal?
    3. What skills does the job seeker need to reach their goals?

    If you’re an older worker, your evidence-based career assessment will have one key difference over that of younger workers: You’ll be able to take advantage of knowledge of your transferable skills, either from a lifetime of activity or past work history, and those skills can make a big difference in finding the right job for you. What you may lack, on the other hand, are various technology skills that have become essential in the last few decades, but you’ll also be aware of skills that you need to work on and can plan accordingly.

    Where and How to Access Yourself

    Every job requires a variety of different knowledge bases, skills to learn and tasks to do; likewise, every person has a set of interests and skills that correspond to those.

    Your assessment may take on the shape of John Holland’s R-I-A-S-E-C Interest Structure, which measures these dimensions:

    • Realistic
    • InvestigativeArtistic
    • Social
    • Enterprising
    • Conventional

    Among the many online assessments that match a person’s interest with a career, among the most effective (and free) is the U. S. Department of Labor website My Next  Move, which is part of the O*Net system of career navigation. Taking the assessment takes less than 30 minutes, but it can lead you to the skills required to do any occupation, plus show the available labor market information and what jobs are currently available in a particular area. It is truly a one-stop shop for job seekers.

    For older job seekers, understanding your work history and employment goals is key to finding the job that best fits you. If you need help, consider connecting with a career counselor, such as one at your local Goodwill. However you go about it, though, the motivation that you’ll have in a job that suits you can mean the difference between getting just a job and discovering a career.

    Suzanne Paulson
    MS, CRC worked at the Iowa Department on Aging directing the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) before coming to work for Goodwill Industries International. Suzie was a Social Security Benefits planner under the Iowa Work Incentives Planning & Assistance Grant from 2006-2012. Suzie continues to donate some of her time to maintain the Iowa WINS web site at www.iowawins.org. This site is unique and offers SSI calculators that help individuals receiving SSI and working to understand exactly how their work activity will affect their cash benefit. Suzie has her Master’s Degree from Drake University in Rehabilitation/Mental Health Counseling and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). Suzie dedication to the field of disability comes not only from professional experience but originally from her personal experience. Suzie went back to school to get her bachelors and then her masters in 2002-6 after realizing that her husband’s brain injury from work in 1999 was going to prevent him from returning to full time employment. Suzie and her husband have 7 children ranging in age from 31 to 15 years of age.
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