Since Christine Pawlak retired last April, she has learned she left the workforce a little too early.
“I still have energy, and something to contribute,” the 67-year-old Holland woman said. “And it wouldn’t be bad to make a little extra money.”
She got weary of sending out resumes and receiving no replies, so she stopped by AARP Michigan Experience for Hire in Grand Rapids on March 27 to meet with several employers who indicated they’re open to hiring older adults.
“I thought I’d jump the line and talk to a real person,” Pawlak said.
A document management job at Loss Prevention Services piqued her interest. She came away with an appointment for a formal interview at the Grandville company.
Pawlak was among the 70 seasoned job seekers who converged on the West Michigan Works! agency to meet with 13 employers who have job openings. West Michigan Works!, AARP’s partner in the program, matched job candidates and employers.
Deb Wolffis, 66, of Grand Rapids was another job candidate at the hiring event. She left her long-held job as a professional counselor in October “because the stress was tremendous.” She has been doing volunteer work since then, “but it just wasn’t enough.” She’s looking for a part-time or full-time job, and she met with a couple employers at Experience for Hire.
“There are a lot of us baby boomers out there,” she said about her job search. “We’re not going to just stay home and bake cookies all day.”
Experience for Hire was intended for mature workers just like Pawlak and Wolffis. The AARP Michigan program matches older worker talent with Michigan job openings.
Michigan employers report finding qualified applicants to take tough-to-fill jobs is their biggest obstacle to business growth. Workers age 50 and older, who have unique skill sets, increasingly intend to stay in the workforce past traditional retirement age.
Demand, meet supply.
The program provides employers a convenient opportunity to interview a screened pool of applicants who bring value to the workplace, may require little or no job training, and are often open to a flexible schedule.
The hiring event worked out well for Kenny Rivera and Cynthia Seward of Epi Breads Inc. of Muskegon, who offered jobs to three experienced applicants on the spot.
“We love diversity,” and that includes age diversity, Rivera said.
“Older workers provide stability,” added Seward. “They bring experience and a desire to work. You don’t have to teach them ethics. It’s already ingrained in them.”
Jim Niebling, 55, of Lake Odessa, brings many of those attributes to the table. He recently retired from his job as a high school math and physics teacher after 32 years. He’s tried retirement. He wants to go back to work.
“I’m not really sure what I’m looking for,” he said between interviews. “I only know I want to find something that makes me feel a little more useful.”
Niebling said he’s expecting a couple job offers out of the Experience for Hire event.
“It had been a long time since I did a job interview. Hey, I’m pretty good at it,” he said with a smile.
Marcia Boaze, 70, of Wyoming, found a job opportunity at the hiring event that lines up perfectly with her work background. She met with Michigan Turkey Producers and left the with an appointment for a second interview. Her resume included highly relevant work experience. She was employed for 27 years at Tyson Foods in Arkansas.
“Mostly, I just want to stay busy, and be around other people,” she said when asked what brought her to the event.
Asked about her impression of Experience for Hire, Boaze said: “Very positive. Everyone here is so friendly and helpful.”
This was the third Experience for Hire pilot event. Return to this web page for future announcements.