Man working in factorySometimes the best way to return to work is with a career change. It's never too late to start something new. This blog shares how being a mature job seeker might mean you have the skills an employer is looking for.

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It’s Never Too Late to Make a Fresh Start

Aug 27, 2020

Man working at a factoryRecently, we wrote about changing careers and suggested an approach that you could take at the start to make a successful transition. Today, we continue the discussion with a focus on mature workers who have a disability and want to work.

Many workers develop disabilities as they age, or their existing disabilities become more significant, and they find that they can no longer perform their current job. Still, they enjoy working for the social engagement, sense of purpose and the financial security having a job provides.

If you receive a Social Security benefit (SSDI/SSI) because of a disability, are age 18-64 and thinking about returning to the workforce, Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program can help you navigate that change. If you're an older worker, you won't be alone.

To begin your search for new employment opportunities and new careers, you'll need a plan.

  • First, assess the skills, abilities and past work experiences that you will bring to an employer. These are your hard skills — the technical knowledge you have acquired through experience or training. They are specific and essential for success in each job. Soft skills matter, too. They are attributes and habits that describe how you work individually or with others. They are not specific to a job, but indirectly help you adapt to the work environment and company culture. Examples include communication, adaptability and teamwork, among others.

The prospect of working again after many years, and possibly changing careers, can be intimidating. Sally Boofer, whose organization, Experience Works, serves older workers through the Department of Labor's Senior Community Service Employment Program and the Ticket to Work Program, understands the challenges that older workers face. "We devote a lot of time on building their confidence through job clubs, training on resume preparation and honing their interviewing skills," she said.

  • Next, update your resume with both your hard and soft skills and your accomplishments. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. Tailor your resume to the requirements of each job. Keep it under two pages and document the most recent 10-15 years. Follow these tips if there are gaps in your employment history.
  • Decide if you need additional skills. If you’ve been away from the workforce for some time, you may need to acquire new skills and experiences, especially ones that are relevant today. Look for volunteer opportunities and apprenticeships or a part-time, entry-level job in the type of work you want to pursue. Many older workers turn to community colleges to help with training because of their affordability and convenient locations.
  • Think about whether you want to disclose your disability. Disclosing your disability is a personal choice, and you cannot be forced to tell your employer, nor a prospective employer, that you have a disability. But, if you intend to ask for reasonable accommodations when you apply for a job or at work, then you will need to disclose. Read more about reasonable accommodations and disclosure.
  • Prepare for an interview. Once you begin applying for jobs, consider taking some time to prepare for the interview portion of the application process. Learn how to be a STAR in your next interview. Many Ticket To Work service providers will help you sharpen your interview skills to land your next dream job.

Employers know the value that mature, experienced workers bring to their workplace. Age-diverse teams and workforces can improve employee engagement, performance and productivity, according to a report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  

Senior Community Service Employment Program

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) provides jobs training for low-income, unemployed seniors, ages 55 and older. Participants also have access to employment assistance through the Department of Labor's American Job Centers. For information on SCSEP programs in your area, use the CareerOneStop's Older Worker Program Finder or call the toll-free help line at 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627).

Senior Community Service Employment Program

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) provides jobs training for low-income, unemployed seniors, ages 55 and older. Participants also have access to employment assistance through the Department of Labor's American Job Centers. For information on SCSEP programs in your area, use the CareerOneStop's Older Worker Program Finder or call the toll-free help line at 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627).

Learn More 

More than 500 organizations known as Employment Networks (EN) offer an array of employment services, which may include career planning, benefits counseling, job placement assistance and ongoing support. ENs that are part of a state's public workforce system also feature specialized services for older workers.

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Receive Ticket Program Texts

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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  Opt in to receive information about the Ticket program via text. Text the word "TICKET" to 474747