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I am 70 years old and have an excellent resume, but can't find a job. I believe it is because of age discrimination. What can I do?

Wednesday April 17, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am 70 years old, but I look like I’m about 55. I have an excellent resume and have gone on several interviews since I moved to South Carolina. At the interviews, I receive outstanding enthusiasm, incredible feedback and even verbal offers. But once my age is discovered, it's like I have the plague — there is definitely age discrimination. I have to work, or I am going to end up on welfare or on the street. What would you suggest I do?

Older Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Older Nurse,

I'm wondering how you know or why you think it is your age, specifically that is working against you. Because if you are given verbal offers and you have reasonable assurance that the offer is retracted because of your age, then you may have cause for legal action. You might want to discuss this with an attorney. You also can contact the South Carolina office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (http://www.eeocoffice.com/south-carolina-eeoc-offices) about your rights and your experiences.

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. I don't know what type of positions you are applying for, but you may want to look in different directions for employment (if you are primarily seeking hospital bedside positions). Many employers welcome, and even prefer, older workers because of their work ethic, experience and maturity.

Rely more on networking for job opportunities and offers. Attend local chapter meetings of the South Carolina Nurses Association (http://www.scnurses.org/) and any specialty association that interests you, as a guest if you are not a member. This is a good way to create a support system in your new area, expand your professional network and find a job. Attend career fairs, conferences and conventions. Cast your net wide enough, and you'll catch a big fish.

While you continue to look for paid employment, start volunteering as a nurse in a healthcare setting. Consider your local public health department, hospice, a community clinic and the American Red Cross. Volunteering is a great way to further expand your network, account for your time while unemployed, and get a foot in the door. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. If you can't get in the front door, try the back.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.