By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
They may have retired or have lost a spouse. For whatever reason, many seniors feel they need to continue working, even if it is only on a part-time basis.
Many of these older people, though, may not have applied for a job in quite some time, or they may not have filed a resumé in a few years, if they have at all.
The process of applying for a job for many of these seniors, therefore, can be a confusing one. Now, through a program offered by the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging, older people can get help finding work opportunities and getting a job that suits their skills.
To assist local people in this aspect, SWKAAA’s Lyle Dotson travels to Liberal from Fort Dodge twice a month to visit the community’s senior center.
Liberal Senior Center Activity Director Michele Stoddard said anyone 55 and older can apply with the program, and she added Dotson helps with preparing resumés and doing mock interviews.
“If they didn’t feel comfortable, they would sit there and do some mock interviews with them, trying to get them more prepared,” Stoddard said. “Job coaching, they’re taking the skills the seniors have and matching them with what skills that go with the jobs that are needed.”
The businesses seniors can apply with can take part in the process as well.
“Companies are welcome to call their toll-free number at 1-800-742-9531 and give them a list of jobs they have that seniors could apply for,” Stoddard said. “They would be happy to take those lists so they still have jobs coming in they can go through.”
Dotson comes to Liberal the first and third Thursdays of each month. Stoddard said the program is an effort to help seniors find jobs that fit the need to still be active, productive and important to the community.
“It’s a free service for those 55 and above to find employment, job searches, resumés, cover letter writing, pre-interviews to counseling, employers networking,” she said. “These are just some of the services provided by the program.”
This is a plus, Stoddard said, for seniors who may not know how to do a resumé, but still want to find work.
“They will help them get a resumé set up, print it off for them so they have a resumé to be able to hand out when they go out for a job interview, which is a great service,” she said.
A part-time job could be as little as 10 to 15 hours a week. Stoddard said work can be an added bonus for those who have recently lost a loved one.
“This gives them what they need to go through that grieving time as well,” she said.
SWKAAA started the program at the beginning of February, and Stoddard said the senior center simply wants to make the community aware of the opportunity for people in the older age group to get jobs.
“Just because they don’t come to the senior center on a regular basis doesn’t mean they can’t walk back here to the meeting room on the first or third Thursday of the month and talk to this gentleman and maybe find the perfect part-time job they need,” she said.
There is a good mixture of jobs for seniors to find, too, according to Stoddard.
“I know there’s several he’s been able to help find jobs that were looking for something where they didn’t know where to go,” she said. “He helped them get the resumé and helped them with things so they could go out and get a job.”
Stoddard explained the process Dotson goes through in helping people find work.
“He says he goes through and asks questions and figures out where their strengths are,” she said. “He goes in with what jobs he’s got available and tries to match up so he can find something that’s compatible for them he knows they can do.”
Before bringing the work program to Liberal, SWKAAA officials did some polling surveys and discovered there was enough local interest to bring Dotson to Seward County.
“At first, they were surprised, but when they did the phone calls, they had enough people showing interest,” Stoddard said. “We were chosen as a place to try it out. We were very happy to have it. We always welcome new programs in our area for the seniors. Hopefully, this finds them what they need in their time of life to go through. Sometimes, it’s a part-time job more or less to get them out of the house and socialize.”
For more information on SWKAAA’s effort to get more seniors working, call the Liberal Senior Center at 620-624-2511. Dotson’s next visit is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to noon June 19in the meeting room at the senior center at 701 N. Grant in Liberal.