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Behind on IT Skills, HELP!

Q: I am ashamed to admit this, but I don't really know how to use a computer. I am a Vietnam Era vet with a Purple Heart who finds himself in the difficult economic position of having to work full time when I should be enjoying grandchildren. (Luckily I have them because they do my email for me!) USAJobs is a nightmare and I haven't the first clue how to operate it. I am frankly too old to do a job which requires a lot of heavy lifting or physical work, so an ‘office job' makes sense, but I can't even get through the application. It seems like everyone has to know computers these days. I am too old to learn!

A: You are too old to learn? I don't believe that! You may be surprised at how easily you will be able to pick up the basic skills you need not only to apply for a position, but to operate in an office environment. The basics are certainly achievable at any age. Take a look at your community bulletin board, Yellow Pages, library events calendar and visit your local vet center. I guarantee there will be plenty of resources from low to no cost which will allow you to learn MS Office skills like Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel. And don't be afraid to ask the grandkids to show you what they know (other than Facebook). They are your first (free!) resource for information.

But, if you really have a block and have determined that you don't want any part of the IT generation, you still have options, less plentiful though they might be. Opportunities in retail may be an avenue to explore. If you have good phone etiquette and people skills, you might try your hand at reception. In some offices, receptionists set appointments (computer based again), but there are some jobs out there for individuals who simply greet and direct guests or clients. Childcare, housekeeping and some restaurant positions may also be avenues of interest. You don't say what sort of work experience you have built your career on, but there could be opportunities for someone with a lot of organizational knowledge to mentor or consult. You might consider calling some temp agencies and explaining your situation. Recruiters will be honest and let you know if they have clients who can utilize your experience without additional computer skills. Best of luck!

Laura Stanek, Human Resource Advisor and Wounded Warrior Program Manager, is dedicated in assisting wounded warriors and disabled veterans from all branches of service with transition to federal civilian employment. Need employment Advice? Have a success story to share? Email at laura.stanekmed.navy.mil.