Olentangy Valley News

Council partnership aims to keep seniors working

Workshops set for June teach senior citizens how to find, apply for jobs

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When some employers hear the words senior citizen, they think about retirement.

Carol Ventresca, executive director of Employment for Seniors, said they should be thinking about a largely untapped resource.

"If you have a human-resources employee who's younger, they assume they're dealing with their grandmother, and that's really not the case," she said.

In reality, she said, seniors represent an experienced, highly motivated section of the workforce. Ventresca said seniors are less likely to miss work or leave for other jobs than younger employees.

Ventresca currently is working to get more exposure for her nonprofit agency throughout central Ohio. Although its office is located in Whitehall, the nonprofit serves all of Franklin County and its contiguous counties.

In addition to offering an online job list and employment counseling services for central Ohio residents older than 50, Employment for Seniors also offers job-search workshops.

The agency, which previously has hosted similar events in Franklin County -- and, on a smaller scale, in Fairfield and Licking counties -- will bring the workshops to Delaware County this spring and summer.

The Council for Older Adults of Delaware County funded the program in the county with a grant of about $9,500. The workshops are limited to seniors who are 60 or older due to restrictions on how the council can spend levy funds.

Council for Older Adults spokeswoman Donna Meyer said seniors often ask county officials for advice and leads while seeking employment.

"Many people over the age of 60 have acquired lifelong skills, and it just makes sense for them to work," she said.

Meyer said the council saw an expanded relationship with Employment for Seniors as a way to address some of those questions.

The first of three workshop sessions ended last week, but the next series will start at 9 a.m. June 2 at the Center for Older Adults, 800 Cheshire Road. At that first session, seniors will meet Ventresca and register with Employment for Seniors.

The second session June 12 focuses on what it takes to find a job in the modern workforce. This includes information on how to update a resume and how to approach an interview.

"The job-search process has changed a lot since we were younger," Ventresca said.

The third session, set June 26, centers around how job-seekers can use the social networking site LinkedIn to their benefit.

Ventresca said many seniors tend to focus on classified ads in newspapers and other traditional sources when looking for a job, while missing out on the "hidden job market." She said the workshop will help seniors figure out how and when jobs are available even if they are not advertised.

Ventresca said she hopes to see increased participation at the next set of workshops, noting the first three were lightly attended.

"It's been slow but steady," she said. "We're still really trying to get the information out."

The Center for Older Adults will host the set of three workshops again in July.

Employment for Seniors also keeps a list of senior-friendly job openings at the agency's website, employseniors.org.

"We don't post these jobs unless those employers know who we are and who our clients are," she said.

Anyone can see certain details about the jobs, such as the industry and position, but only the agency's clients can see the companies' names and request application instructions.

Along with helping seniors, Ventresca said the agency also tries to educate employers. She said there are a lot of misconceptions about seniors in the workplace.

"(Some employers) assume (seniors) can't learn computers, they don't want to learn new skills," she said.

In reality, seniors can be just as tech-savvy as their younger co-workers and eager to learn new things.

Employment for Seniors will host job fairs in Delaware and Franklin counties later this summer.

The Delaware County recruiting event will be conducted from 2 to 4:30 p.m. July 14 at the Center for Older Adults. The larger Franklin County event will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Ohio State University's Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus.

Ventresca said Employment for Seniors clients represent a broad range of job-seekers, from people who were laid off before they were ready for retirement, to retired individuals looking to develop new skills and stay busy.

"I actually have a client in her 80s who just wants to be active in the community," she said.

The agency has about 4,000 active clients and works with between 250 and 300 employers at any given time.

For more information about Employment for Seniors or to sign up for its Delaware County workshops, call the agency at 614-863-1219.

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