Record-Breaking Crowds Flood Senior Job Fair

900 Seniors Interview With 15 Employers

Jobless senior citizens flooded a Loveland job fair in record numbers Wednesday, looking for an edge in an increasingly competitive job market.

The fair, sponsored in part by the Larimer County Work Force, was geared toward seniors 50 and older.

A survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment among seniors has nearly doubled over the past year, from 3.8 percent in March 2008 to 6.2 percent a year later.

Organizers at the Loveland job fair said they hosted their largest crowd ever Wednesday, with the smallest number of businesses attending. Close to 900 people came to talk to just 15 employers.

“This is not what I expected when I got to be 50,” said Linda Koopman, who has been searching for housekeeping jobs since last October.

Koopman and her husband moved to Colorado when he lost his job and have been struggling to find work in a tough job market that largely utilizes the Web.

“I've had to learn. I get up every morning and check Craigslist,” Koopman said. “I also do Twitter.”

Koopman and others said they have had to learn to use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Craigslist to compete with applicants half their age, who are often vying for the same jobs.

Nan Cooper, another senior job-seeker, said times have changed since the days of walking into a business with a resume and walking out with a job.

“They have changed radically,” said Cooper, who has taken to trolling eBay for job listings.

“I've spent countless, countless hours on the Internet and filling out applications,” she said.

Information technology experts said senior job-seekers often have strong skill sets and a wealth of knowledge and experience, but struggle to stand out in a competitive market. That is where the Web comes in.

“What they have to do is showcase it somewhere, which is very difficult to do on a piece of paper,” said Adam Glod, a recruiting manager for Robert Half Technology. “A blog or a micro-blog or a chat room is a great forum for that.”

Glod said he advises seniors to join LinkedIn.com first and foremost.

“LinkedIn is a huge resource for people who want to find who they know, where they're working now and how they can use that to move into a new position,” he said.

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