Looking for a job is "one of the worst things you go through in life," according to Roger Forrester, "and it gets tougher as you get older."
Forrester knows as much. He's one of many people who've sought new employment after the age of 50.
Forrester, administrator of the Mature Worker Connection at Pima Council of Aging, and his team apply their own experiences to the Oro Valley Mature Worker Connection, a new initiative that tries to put mature workers into suitable jobs.
The entity held its first open house Thursday at the Sun City Vistoso Association Center, and it drew 163 people looking for jobs, needed skills, connections, networks and opportunities.
"That's by the far the most successful open house we've had in any of the communities we've been in," Forrester said.
It may be an indicator of pent-up demand. Forrester said Pima County has more than 300,000 residents age 50 and older. A recent AARP survey of Arizona indicates 36 percent of those people are working, and 78 percent said they would be interested in working, particularly in an economic time when dollars are tight and nest eggs may be shrinking.
"A lot of people won't come today because of pride," Forrester said. "There is a certain percentage of people that don't want their neighbors and friends to know.
The Mature Worker Connection intends to "extol the virtues of mature workers," Forrester said. "Hiring mature workers just makes good business sense to local employers."
Its mission "is to make employers in Pima County aware of the value of mature workers, ensure that mature workers are prepared for and secure meaningful employment, and refer qualified job seekers to fill the workforce needs of employers," said Robin Coulter, communications specialist for the Sun City Vistoso Community Association.
Grants from the Town of Oro Valley and the Sun City Vistoso Foundation have yielded some $14,000 to start up the Oro Valley Mature Worker Connection.
"We haven't expended all of it," Forrester said. Funds are being used for events, publicity, employer recruitment, administration and planning as well as work force development.
"We want to equip the potential employee to go out into the work force," Coulter said.
People may need help with resume-writing, preparing for the interview, how to use e-mail, "how to answer the 'you're overqualified' question," and "what to do after the interview," Forrester said.
All that "makes our job-seekers more marketable. In this job situation, you have to do everything you can to be considered," Forrester said. And, in fact, the Mature Worker Connection has placed people in jobs at a higher rate since it began improving their skills and approach, he added.
All services are free to the job-seeker.
The Oro Valley Mature Worker connection is supported by the Pima Council on Aging, the Town of Oro Valley, the Sun City Vistoso Community Foundation, Pima Community College and the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce.
Steps to become a Mature Worker Connection job seeker:
1 — Register at matureworkerconnection.com, on the Job Seeker Services page.
2 — Take one required workshop within 60 days of registering. There are two such workshops, "50-Plus Employability Skills" through Pima County One Stop Career Centers, and "YWCA Phase/YWorks Skills for Successful Employment," for women only.
3 — E-mail a resume as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 — Meet with a Mature Worker Connection intake specialist.
Overqualified? How to answer
How do you answer the "you're overqualified" statement?
"You have to do your homework first," said Roger Forrester, administrator of the Mature Worker Connection at the Pima Council on Aging. "Let the person know you're interested in working for them. Answer the question in the course of the interview, whether it's asked or not."
A response might be "I don't want to be in the career I was in before," Forrester said.
Someone who was once a business manager may no longer want to be one. He or she may have other sources of income, reducing the need for a high wage.
The statement is a chance to emphasize the positive – "I've got the experience, I've got the work ethic, check me out," Forrester said. "And I want to work for the long haul.
Classes, resources make OV Library a place for job-seekers
With free classes, resources and one-on-one assistance, the Oro Valley Public Library has experienced "a marked increase in use for job hunting," a release said.
Staff has been answering many questions about job searches, filling out online forms and how to start looking for work, according to the release. Technology Librarian Cat Strong, with the help of other staff, is now teaching classes and scheduling appointments to show patrons what resources the library has and how to use them.
Web resources include sites that cover job searches, career building, career exploration, resume building and volunteering. Classes offer ways to use computer programs that can help with a job search, and how to build a Web site. There are printed resources the library staff can point out as well.
"Customer use of the library computers for job-related searches is growing nationwide," said library director Jane Peterson. "The Oro Valley Public Library and its staff are dedicated to helping in as many ways as we can."
For more information, go to www.orovalleyaz.gov. To sign up for a class or schedule an appointment, contact Cat Strong at (520) 229-5300.
OV library has Friday event for job-seekers
The Oro Valley Library is hosting a facilitated gathering for job seekers this Friday, April 30, from 3 to 4 p.m. in its study room.
Beth Cole, a former executive recruiter, is presenting the first in a series of specific topics. Each regular gathering is followed by a group discussion.
"We'll try it out, and see how it goes," said Catherine "Cat" Strong, technology librarian.
The library now offers job search, career exploration and career-building help from 9 to 11 a.m. Mondays, and 1-3 p.m. Fridays, or by appointment. It is located at 1305 W. Naranja Drive. Its phone number is 229-5300, and the Web site is www.orovalleylib.com.