Aviation Veteran Talks Re-entering the Workforce

Skills upgrade, confidence important for retirees, seniors

bustaxesbillsWith company layoffs and cutbacks, workers across the nation are struggling to navigate a tough economic landscape. As 401(k) accounts tank, many older Americans, particularly, are considering their options, either delaying retirement or re-entering the workforce. According to a recent Gallup poll, for the first time this decade, 52% of non-retired Americans doubt they will have enough money to live comfortably when they retire, compared with 2002, when confidence was much higher.

In today’s climate, a good game plan is key, and as we celebrate seniors during Older Americans Month, Cpt. Karen Kahn is one figure who has sought to help motivate older Americans toward success.

Actively involved in the aviation industry for more than 35 years, Kahn is a professional speaker and has presented career workshops and professional aviation events helping audiences from all age ranges reach their career goals. Through her firm, Aviation Career Counseling, she also provides professional advice, personal resources management, and airline interview coaching. She is also the author of Flight Guide for Success: Tips & Tactics for the Aspiring Pilot.

BlackEnterprise.com talked with Kahn about how retirees can adequately position themselves, how confidence is a winning strategy for those reentering the workforce, and how younger people can learn a wealth of knowledge from their elders.

BlackEnterprise.com: With today’s tough landscape, how can retirees sell themselves as great job candidates when approaching a job interview?

Cpt. Karen Kahn: Unlike younger applicants, retirees offer a wealth of professional and life experience to a prospective employer. To sell themselves well, they need to focus on their key assets that differentiate them from their younger competitors, such as maturity, which substantiates their experience and credibility. Flexibility and a willingness to do whatever is needed are traits often viewed by employers as ones most associated with youthfulness.

Therefore, it is critical that mature workers prepare themselves with specific and current examples that show how they have stayed current with technology and other modern business methodologies relevant to their career. For example, retirees can demonstrate that besides a great history of work experience they too have skills with online social networking (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) and/or are up-to-date with the current computer programs and online knowledge that younger candidates may have grown up using.

If you are someone who retired with plans to change careers, what are some key things you should do or know before taking the leap?

Starting over is never an easy prospect at any age. To successfully penetrate and succeed in a new career, one must start with a realistic plan with goals, tactics, and timelines. The development of such a plan requires the returning worker to do the necessary research and complete any necessary supplemental training and/or education, including certifications or apprenticeship programs.

Moreover, when entering any field, the job seeker who has the greatest chance for success is the one who develops and cultivates a supportive network and mentor relationships. These relationships are critical to helping the “trainee” work his/her plan, stay the course and find the hidden job market where the best opportunities exist. Additionally, returning workers should practice patience, taking the necessary time to learn what the new career entails.

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