Job fair assists older unemployed mid-Missourians

The current recession has left millions of people without a job. Two million of those individuals are over the age of 55.

Those older or "mature" job searchers had an opportunity in Jefferson City Thursday to see what local employers have to offer.

The job fair Thursday at the Capital Mall offered a chance for older or mature workers to test the waters with nearly two dozen employers.

The Jefferson City based "Dreams to Reality" organization also hosted a fashion show to demonstrate what interviewees should wear, and what they should not.

A government-run organization called "Experience Works" hosted the event.

The group offers hands-on assistance to job seekers over age 50, who often find the job search intimidating.

"I think its very stressful and I think their confidence is low, especially when they have to go and apply and they get rejected so many times," Experience Works representative Susan Streit said.

John Hollaway knows all about the rejection in the job market.

He was laid off over a year ago and now spends over 50 hours a week searching and applying for jobs.

"I work harder at this than I've ever worked at a job," Hollaway said.

Even with that hard work, Hollaway said being an older job candidate has not been easy.

"There's not supposed to be a thing such as age discrimination," Hollaway said. "But I can't hide my gray hair or the wrinkles on my face. People know I'm older and they make certain assumptions about older workers."

But Experience Works officials said employers need to remember all the great qualities a mature worker can bring to the workplace.

"They're very dependable. They're very reliable and they're teachable," Streit said. "They're willing to learn. They'll show up on time."

Representatives from Experience Works were also on hand to critique resumes and assist older workers with online applications.

The agency also hosted an interview workshop for job seekers.