The article below originally appeared on San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

It is a tough job market out there right now. The state’s unemployment rate is currently more than 12 percent, a number not seen since the Great Depression. Although the unemployment rate is better in San Mateo County, 9.1 percent, there are still thousands in the county out of work, many of them over 40 years old.

It can be a daunting task for a person over 40 to find a new job, said longtime jobs recruiter Ron Visconti.

Visconti, 57, and a number of other career specialists are in the midst of starting up a nonprofit group, Phase2Careers, that will specialize in helping people over 40 find new jobs in the Bay Area.

Foster City resident Eileen O’Brien is on Phase2Careers’ board and is also the director of the career center at the College of San Mateo.

“People over 40 have to make an extra effort to find work. They have to develop strategies that others might not have to,” she said.

O’Brien, 61, is in the middle of her fifth career. Since she turned 40, O’Brien has had four different jobs, including stints with the state and county.

“Institutional employers have a history of hiring older people because of their work history and experience,” she said.

It is already more difficult for a person over 40 to find work but it is worse now considering people of all ages are competing for a scarcity of jobs, O’Brien said.

Gordon Woo, 49, has been a jobs recruiter for 20 years now. The Livermore resident, who is also on the Phase2Careers board, said there are certain myths associated with older adults that just are not true.

“They are not slower. They are not more expensive to employ and they are not as set in their ways as people might think,” Woo said.

Older adults out of work need to keep up with technology trends and embrace social networking, Woo said.

Visconti has a long history of running job fairs on the Peninsula and is putting together Phase2Careers’ first event later this month featuring Susan RoAne at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City.

RoAne is the best-selling author of “How to Work a Room.” She will speak to the importance of networking in tough economic times.

Visconti intends to bring job seekers together with employers and says networking skills are a must.

“Many older adults flounder when they get laid off,” Visconti said. “But for me it is a time to reconnect with yourself and start the second act of your life. You have to promote yourself.”

In 2005, one-in-four workers in the United States was over 50, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, one in three workers will be over 50.

In 2008, laid-off workers over 45 were out of work 22.2 weeks on the average versus 16.2 weeks for younger workers, according to the bureau.

“People need to learn to brand themselves,” Visconti said.

Susan RoAne will speak at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m.,
1221 Chess Drive, Foster City. Visit for more information.

Bill Silverfarb can be reached by e-mail: or by phone:
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106.