“I tried doing a job search on my own, but wasn’t getting much interest. Once the staff at JEVS helped me to fix my résumé, the calls started coming in!”

These are the words of Zipporah Sealy, MSW, who enrolled in the JEVS Career Solutions for 55+ program this past November. A clinical social worker for years, including working at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the 67-year-old resident of Center City, Philadelphia, stopped working in 2016 and was trying to decide if she should work part-time. She independently searched for work, including networking on LinkedIn and with people in her field, but was not feeling motivated.

“It got to the point where the future made me anxious. I was getting bored and needed that stimulation. I missed working with families. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands.”

Someone told her about JEVS Career Solutions for 55+, and she reached out.

“I had no idea there were all these services available. I had a lot of apprehension about doing this at this age. You hear discouraging stories about how no one will hire you, and to a certain extent it’s true. How was I going to be perceived? What kind of opportunities are out there? As soon as I entered the JEVS program, it really helped to calm the nervousness and fears that I had.”

“One of those fears was being really intimated by all the new technology. Even in former jobs I didn’t have to use all these applications. I wasn’t familiar and that was a major source of anxiety. I wondered, ‘how am I going to do this?’”

Upon starting, JEVS program coordinator Yolanda Burnett referred her to free computer workshops that included lessons in Microsoft Word and Excel, so she received a great introduction. “This is not hard. It just takes experience and practice.”

In addition to classes, the program met her where she was. “Being so warmly received really boosted my confidence.”

Sealy said she had no idea that there was such a thing as application tracking systems that employers use in selecting the best job candidates.

“I was unaware of these computerized systems and that employers were no longer reading hundreds of résumés. Amazingly, Ms. Burnett performed a total reconstruction of my résumé over a few one-on-one sessions, including a complete rewording. I could see the difference. Once I sent out my new résumé, I started getting calls. It was like an epiphany; she knew exactly which action words to use. The material was the same, but I didn’t have the expertise to present it in the right manner. Taking out dates and small nuances really does matter.”

Job interview prep was important too. “Once I’d hear back, I’d reach out to JEVS’s job development specialist Gary Lachow, and we’d prepare including mock interviews. It had been a while since I went through the interview process and the types of questions being asked have changed. There is a plethora of questions, there are multiple styles of interview, and to compound it all, we’re coming out of a pandemic and so virtual interviews are common. Setting up Zoom interviews was something new to me. In our mock interviews, I would respond one way, and Mr. Lachow showed me a better way to answer. Each time it got progressively easier.”

“As someone 55+, honestly, we live in a youth worshipping culture. Thankfully, JEVS has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. The support, the encouragement, and even now that I’ve found the job. Just knowing they are there to support me is great. I feel like I have two cheerleaders in my corner. “

Sealy credits the JEVS program for helping her to establish a job development plan and to determine what was best, whether that was working full or part-time or staying in the same field.

She is starting a job on May 23 in a clinical social work position with a prominent employer in Philadelphia. She obtained employment based on her background and experience and says, “I hope to keep working in this job and to inspire others. Don’t be intimidated. Go for it. There is help there.”

JEVS Career Solutions for 55+ is funded by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging to provide free job search services to Philadelphia’s mature job seekers.

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Strategies for Success: A Job Search Seminar for Mature Jobseekers

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