No Longer Qualified

Good morning Boomers.

I read an article this morning that made me think about the plight of so many in our country during this time of stubborn unemployment.  Recently the number of available jobs has risen yet unemployment remains stuck.    

Not long ago we heard that there were at least 6 qualified applicants for every job opening.  That number has now shrunk to 4.6 according to the article and that is good news.  Yet we still hear employers say that they cannot find qualified applicants. 

While some of the difficulty in filling open positions may be tied to geography (qualified applicants don’t live where the jobs are), why do employers have such a difficult time finding their next hires when there are still so many looking for work?    

It would seem that during recent years, the flood of corporate downsizings has allowed employers to persuade employees to do the proverbial “more with less”.  Essentially, to keep your job you had to be willing and able to do 1.5 or maybe even 2 jobs. 

For many, the professional growth opportunities were intoxicating and they eagerly accepted more responsibility and embraced  “on the job” learning opportunities. For others, the many choices available in a robust economy enabled them to leave for greener pastures and whatever gains that a job switch delivered.

Work harder, learn more, leave.  Employees had choices.  When the bottom fell out of the economy many of the choices dried up.  Fewer choices for employees meant more power for employers and for the past few years they have asked their employees to do much more with far less.  

Now that things are slowly beginning to improve, the proverbial greener pastures may once again loom on the distant horizon and employers are beginning to add staff.  That would seem to be good news for the unemployed. But is it?

Jobs have changed.  More work is accomplished by fewer people.  The knowledge and skills required to do today’s jobs have also changed and each employee must be able to do more, perhaps much more than before.  That requires expanded skills and new knowledge.  

The article I read this morning made the point quite bluntly.  Most people who have been unemployed for a while are no longer qualified to do the job they lost.  And the writer wasn’t talking just about Boomers.  She wasn’t talking just about older workers, nor just about one subset or class of workers.  She didn’t mean just those without education, without specific skills, without relevant experience. 

The writer specifically meant that MOST everyone who has been sitting it out for a while has fallen behind.  Many of the long-term unemployed are no longer qualified to do their old jobs.  Why?  Because the job has grown and they have not.  They no longer possess the skills or knowledge necessary to do what is expected, to produce what is required.   This is not just a Boomer issue and it doesn’t keep just older workers sidelined.

If you have been unemployed for a year or more, things have likely changed – a lot.  Have you?  Have you kept your skills up to date?  Have you learned new ones?  When you read a job description do you find yourself falling short on many of the required competencies?  Do employers seem to be asking for the sun, the moon, and the stars too?

Perhaps employers really are asking for the impossible but when things are as bad as they have been recently, they are going to ask.  Not because they want to keep you out.  They ask because that is what they perceive they need to stay competitive, to survive, to keep the doors open, to meet payroll, to make a profit.

So perhaps it is time to brush up your skills, to reinvent yourself a bit.  Take a class.  Learn a new piece of software.  Get a certificate.  Have a compelling story to tell when they ask, “So what have you been doing while unemployed?”

It is no longer enough to say that you have spent all of your time looking for a job because the job you have been looking for has likely disappeared.  The job may still carry the same name but it will likely require more skills, more knowledge, more competency.  Your old job has changed.  Have you?

For on-line educational information and some local +50 education initiatives, please visit to find some great resources.  Or call your local community college to see what they have to offer.

If you need to update your technology skills, visit for some great tools and resources that will help you get or stay current with today’s business tools.


One Response to “No Longer Qualified”

  1. LoveBeingRetired Says:

    Very pertinent point that after an extended period out of work, you need to show something for that time. I think that after 4-6 months of looking for a job fill time, you need to be doing something. Whether that is attending classes to broaden your skills or writing a book or a blog to learn about social media, you need something to show. Adding to your skills only makes you that much more marketable.

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