Older job seekers face different challenges

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Being over 40 years old is a challenging age when it comes to finding work during and following a recession. While the First Coast is showing signs of inching out of tough times with road construction, home building and home sales rebounding; not everyone is experiencing the rebound.

"Now I am a piece of paper, paper competing with a bunch of pieces of paper in a computer," said Deborah Gurcan from Orange Park who last year moved from Texas to the First Coast.

Gurcan has two degrees including a masters but says she drops references to the advanced degree on her resume. She says since last summer she has been on three interviews while submitting resumes and responding to job openings daily.

"People don't want to give you a chance," said Gurcan in her 40s who would like to land a job either in business or teaching.

Dottie Baker from Keystone Heights shares the same frustration. She worked in the mental health field until losing her job 18 months ago in Gainesville.

She is still out there looking for work, but has started a side business growing sunflowers that she sells to florists.

"I have never been in a situation where I have experienced so many employers wanting to pay minimum wage for top skills until this," said Baker outside her rural Clay County home.

University of North Florida professor Dr. Paul Mason says recessions always impact older workers harder than other age bracket.

"There is a huge number of people that are in the 45-65 age group that are competing for jobs with younger people and with people who have more sophisticated job sets," said Mason.

What older job seekers bring to the table is a work ethic and work place experiences that can be a plus says Mason.

So true says Deborah Gurcan is not taking "no" for an answer even though she has learned something about a rejection.

"It gets frustrating, it gets discouraging, but you cannot give up," she says.

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