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KCBS Cover Story: Long-Term Unemployed Dumbing-Down Resumes To Find Work

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(CBS)

(CBS)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — While unemployed job seekers in their 20s find it difficult to find work, those in their 50s are finding it nearly impossible. Research by the Federal Reserve in San Francisco finds that older workers who find themselves in the ranks of the long-term unemployed, have almost no chance of getting hired.

That’s not encouraging news for Kevin Smith, of Pleasant Hill, who lost his job as a mortgage underwriting manager in 2007, has been out of work ever since and has watched his life savings dwindle. He’s plundered his 401k and done some part-time basketball coaching just to make ends meet.

“There were times that I would sell stock and break down and cry because the values of my stock were nothing compared to what they used to be,” Smith said.

His wife went back to work full-time, while he stayed at home with their three sons. Now in his 50s, Smith said he’s willing to take just about any job.

“I’m open-minded. I’m looking for a $20 an hour job with growth opportunity to feed a family of five,” he said.

Smith doesn’t like to call it age discrimination, but he said he is told that he is overqualified, couldn’t live on the pay or wouldn’t be willing to stay long term.

Smith said he now “dumbs down” his résumé and tries to act as if he’s not as educated during job interviews.

Career coach Ben English said older applicants do need to finesse their résumés.

“How much do you put on your résumé? What do you need do leave off? How far back do you get?” he said are all important questions that’s that need to considered.

When listing a college degree, for example, English suggests it might be best leave off the date.

English said many unemployed people in the 50s feel intimidated by technology or aren’t familiar with social media.

“You’ve got to get used to it to compete in today’s market,” he said.

“Everybody has an email account but do you have a LinkedIn account? Well, it’s necessary.”

Meanwhile, at a job fair in Concord, Smith didn’t get any bites after making his the rounds at the employer tables.

Smith said there are days that it’s difficult for him to feel positive but he remains confident that his six years of unemployment will end soon.

“If you believe in yourself, things will change. It’s just a question of can you withstand the time that it takes to change,” he said.

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