DEAR ABBY: "Needs to Be Active" (April 25) wrote that after more than 20 years as a nurse's aide, she feels that no one wants to hire her because she is older. Abby, she does not have an age discrimination problem; she has a marketing and self-promotion problem!
If her experience and abilities are as stated, her skills are in strong demand across the country. People are not "given" jobs -- they have to go after jobs. She should join a local business networking group; visit doctors' offices and leave promotional handouts with her contact information; get to know nurses and staff at hospitals and senior centers and ask for referrals; introduce herself to the H.R. department at large local businesses (where employees frequently need help with ailing parents); call disability insurance companies and learn how to get on their list of recommended home nurses; advertise in the classified ads section of the local paper; and seek help from a business coach or marketing expert. "Needs" has a business problem; she needs a business solution. -- JIM P., PROMOTION EXPERT IN FLORIDA
DEAR JIM: Thank you for your terrific suggestions. And thank you to the many readers who wrote to offer the writer of that letter (and others like her) advice, ideas and a pep talk. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I would recommend the nurse's aide check with her local department of senior services. The government is providing more programs to help people stay at home instead of going into nursing homes. Many private agencies now offer in-home care services and are looking for full- and part-time caretakers. These companies are growing at an amazing rate and would be a great match for her. -- MARY IN MISSOURI
DEAR ABBY: I'd like to spread the word about an important program of the Department of Labor. Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) allows financially eligible people 55 and older to train 20 hours a week and receive minimum wage at local nonprofits. Seniors can acquire and update skills to help them obtain unsubsidized employment.
With the older workforce growing and a decrease in the younger one, hiring and retaining older workers will become a priority for many employers. The Department of Labor has information about SCSEP on its Web site: www.doleta.gov/seniors. -- PROGRAM DIRECTOR, MOBILE, ALA.
DEAR ABBY: If "Needs" can't get a job as a nurse's aide, then how about as a sitter? Many hospitals (and families) hire sitters to assist with confused patients who cannot be left alone in their rooms but do not need a nurse with them all the time.
Or how about sitting in the home? Many times a family just needs a break from Mom or Dad who is living with them and cannot be left alone. You would be amazed how many people would love a few hours' respite for lunch with a friend, etc. -- AN R.N. IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR ABBY: She should check with AARP. Before retiring, I worked for a government agency that has special positions that could be filled by AARP seniors. These employees were a valuable asset and were able to take home a paycheck while contributing their expertise to help others. -- PAT FROM CARLSBAD
DEAR ABBY: As director of nursing at an assisted-living community, I would like to encourage "Needs" to seek employment at one near her home. These communities often hire certified nursing assistants, and the work is less physically demanding and stressful than it is in a formal setting. -- ELKHART, IND., READER
DEAR ABBY: That woman should visit her beautician for a style update. Perhaps her hairstyle and wardrobe betray her age and turn off some prospective employers. She doesn't have to pretend to be 20, but a stylish, mature woman can make a smashing impression. -- YOUNG AT HEART IN BALTIMORE