Fair helps connect older workers with employers
Roy F. Dean sits quietly at a table, carefully arranging the pages in his “brag book,” a collection of awards, citations, performance reviews, certificates and other documents that note his life achievements.
He wants everything in the book — a black binder about an inch thick — to be just right. After all, what is in the book and how it is presented could determine whether or not he makes a favorable impression on a prospective employer.
The 58-year-old Uniontown-area man was among 135 local residents who came to American Legion Post 51 in Uniontown one day last week for the 11th annual job fair for older workers.
During the fair, Dean and others who attended shopped around their resumes and other personal data to representatives from businesses and agencies that had information tables.
The event, which is sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging, is designed to give older workers the chance to find out more about job opportunities in the area and to help match their skills and experience with businesses participating in the fair.
This year, about 35 businesses representing retail, service and other industries and agencies that serve older residents were represented at the fair, which was held in the post’s social hall.
“I think the job opportunities are there, but a lot of times, people just don’t know where to go to find them,” said Chris Homer, supervisor for the Fayette County office of the agency, which serves a three-county region. “The purpose of this fair is to help people find them.”
She said older citizens seek work for many reasons. Some, she pointed out, either want or need to supplement other income like pensions and Social Security while others simply want something to do. Some are looking for full-time work while others prefer just several hours a week.
“There really is no one set profile for an older person looking for work,” she said. “Every person has their own reasons.”
Despite living in a world where youth is glamorized, older workers have much to offer, especially to prospective employers, according to Homer.
Older workers bring with them a wealth of personal experience, proven work history and a strong work ethic, all assets they can share with younger workers, said Homer. “They can act as mentors,” she said. “At the same time, they might learn something new.”
Dean said he learned about the job fair after reading about it in the newspaper and getting a phone call from one of his adult daughters suggesting that he attend.
Dean, who is divorced, has held various jobs over the years performing a variety of tasks. Those jobs include doing maintenance and repairs at a bank, working as a clerk at a convenience store and serving as a private security guard.
A Navy veteran who spent eight years on active duty, Dean retired about 10 years ago from the Army Reserves, where he handled supply responsibilities.
He’s been out of work since January, when the contract under which he was working as a temporary employee for a local manufacturing plant expired.
Although he makes enough on unemployment compensation to make ends meet and will soon begin collecting his military pension, Dean said he is eager to get back to work.
“I think a person needs to work,” he said. “I’ve known too many people who die when they quit working, and I don’t want to die, at least not yet.”
He said he would like to find a job in time to have enough to buy Christmas presents for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He said he would also use the money to buy a new pair of glasses and to get some much-needed dental work done.
Dean, a former marathon runner, said he prefers a full-time job because it would help him to establish a regular routine, one that would include jogging both before and after work. “I’d like to get back into the swing of things,” he said. “There’s nothing like a good run before you go off to work.”