69-Year-Old Job Seeker Thinks His Age Might Hurt His Chances

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MCALLEN – A 69-year-old McAllen man is struggling to get a job and he thinks it might be due to his age. He's looked for work since June.

Mario Ortiz says he has 35 years of experience in the human resources field. He was let go from a job almost seven months ago. Since then, he's been stuck at home filling out applications.

Ortiz likes to work. He wants to interact with people and make a contribution to the workforce. But he also has another reason he needs a job and an income.

"I am supporting my grand kids as well. I inherited my grand kids when the smallest one was two-years-old, he's now 15, and I have two other grand kids," he says.

His unemployment benefits ran out in December. Since June, he's applied for 95 jobs and interviewed for eight of them.  So far, no job has been offered.

"I did apply for some human resources positions. There were human resources assistants, human resources generalist, and I've been a human resources director. So I was told, basically, I was overqualified," notes Ortiz.

He says he thinks they were just saying he was overqualified to hide the truth about why he wasn't hired. He says he suspected the people he interviewed with were not comfortable hiring someone at his age.

"Being a human resources professional, during the question and answer situation, during the interview, I know where these questions are going. I would have asked those questions, too, maybe when I was at a younger age, screening somebody,” he said. “So I know where these questions are headed, ‘Hey, this guy's great. He's good for us. But how long can he work with us?'”

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Mike Gonzalez, a job placement specialist at Workforce Solutions in McAllen.  He says some employers are hesitant to hire people who are in their late 60s.

"It's not that you don't want to give someone that opportunity. But you may see it a little bit more as a liability," says Gonzalez.

He notes Ortiz could easily increase his chances of finding work with one of his biggest pluses, the fact that he has survived all these years.

"If you're 69 and you're still in the workforce, that's impressive. You’re withstanding, you're resilient and you know your stuff. That is so much that can help a corporation, organization. You obviously want to highlight the fact that you're capable of evolving," he says.

Gonzalez says by shifting attention to his experience and talents, Ortiz can make a potential employer forget about any possible problems with hiring a 69-year-old.

He says Ortiz should keep in mind finding a job in the Rio Grande Valley is tough for everyone. Though the unemployment rate is improving, it is still slightly higher here than other parts of Texas.

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