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Groups for older workers
I am a 55-year-old woman who has been out of work for nearly three months. I was wondering if there are any over-50 employment self-help support groups, either online or in person, or, for that matter, any job search programs geared to older workers?
As unemployment can be an isolating and scary experience, I think it is a great idea for job seekers to get the support of others when looking for work. Up until a few years ago a few employment services agencies in Toronto offered programs catering to workers who were over 45. These programs don't exist anymore although a number of Employment Ontario (EO) agencies outside of the city provide Targeted Initiative for Older Workers programs, which help workers between the ages of 55 and 64 explore careers, research labour market information and build a personal marketing plan. (The nearest program is held at Oshawa's Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre.)
In Toronto, I know about a couple of agencies that provide short-term group programs (they are not age-specific, though). For instance, Times Change Women's Employment Service offers a four-morning job search workshop where participants learn to write resumés, handle challenging interview questions, and explore how to use social media to find a job. As well, Toronto Community Employment Services provides a two-day job search workshop. In addition, many EO agencies deliver afternoon or morning sessions on specific topics such as resumés, interviews, networking and the like, and it would be very easy to find a one-on-one job search/career counsellor. (To find an agency close to you, call an Employment Ontario counsellor at 1-800-387-5656.)
As far as self-help support groups go, I couldn't find anything geared specifically to older workers. I took a look at Toronto Meetups, which help groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs. I found a few groups (some of them not terribly active) that focused on looking for work/networking, such as the Toronto Job Search & Career Transition Meetup Group.
In the online world, I chanced upon one group, the Job Seekers' Support Group, which is an American site but I think that members could still help you with general job seeking questions. LinkedIn also has a multitude of networking groups, many of them geared to specific industries, such as marketing or accounting. LinkedIn offers a few general networking groups based in Toronto such as Networking Toronto or the Toronto Job & Career Network.
Finally, consider starting a group yourself (perhaps even a Meetup group). My friend started a passion group, which offers members support around job search and career exploration amongst other things. If you're interested, check out this Quintessential Careers article about starting a job club. As author Katharine Hanson puts it: "The exchange of job leads, business cards, resumés, ideas, and information that occurs in a job or networking club can energize members and teach everyone valuable career strategies and techniques."
Best of luck,