Baby boomer women who are looking for work, face a unique set of challenges requiring them to balance career demands with caregiver responsibilities.
In the book, The Daughter Trap by Laurel Kennedy, she describes the emotional turmoil women face in today’s tough job market, “Busy caregivers running from commitment to commitment rarely make time for personal inventory to assess what is happening with them.”
According to Kennedy, many women intuitively know that the burden of caring for elderly parents typically falls on their shoulders. She says leading edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) are grappling with new technologies and are extremely vulnerable to market fluctuations making them prime candidates for cutbacks and downsizing of positions.
AARP predicts as many as 30% of employees will be elder care providers. Half of American workers are expected to be caregivers by 2013. With women carrying the bulks of the responsibility when it comes to taking care of older parents and family members, decisions about what jobs to apply for are often based on the needs of others. This results in them earning less money and being ill-prepared for when they retire.
The Daughter Trap provides one of the most detailed and thought-provoking analysis of the price women pay in taking care of others. There are number of pitfalls that baby boomers need to be aware of when it comes to looking for work.
Developing a youthful demeanor is critical in today’s job market. Negative stereotyping holds true for anyone over 50. Older workers who lose a job will find themselves competing against much younger people who also have less responsibilities outside of work.
In a 2008 study, half of 2,000 respondents cited ageism as the most prominent form of discrimination in the workplace.
Communicating a willingness to accept new ideas is a strong point to emphasize in any job interview. Give examples of groups you interact with that show a wide range of ages. Record your voice and carefully evaluate how you sound over the phone. Make an effort to be peaceful inside no matter what is going on in your person life.
Ask a younger person to evaluate your interview outfit. Modify your hair and glasses if necessary to be more competitive. Keeping a positive outlook is also critical. Preparing for a job interview requires baby boomers to be highly organized, because you must allow time to prepare and manage your caregiver responsibilities. Astute interviewers are highly intuitive and can tell when a person’s energy is low. According to Kennedy, women who admit to being involved in elder care are often viewed as being unreliable job candidates.
Corporate America is often responsive to the needs of children but no so when it comes to providing for the needs of the elderly. The companies that are cited as being the most helpful with their employees working with older parents are: Pitney Bowes, General Electric, Pepisco and IBM.