Sunday, January 12, 2014

Age is only your state of mind...

“ Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.”– Mark Twain

This past Monday, January 6th, I turned 60 years old. Some say well that's the big one – the Big 6- oooo.

To me it wasn’t much -- just another passing of a day. But it made me think about the number of times in my practice I’m often asked by a client …

Do you think I’m too old to find a new job? 

It is a concern for sure, especially many of those in their 50s early 60s or even late 40s. We have been conditioned to believe when you reach the grand old 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s, your are washed up and of no value.

The truth is 100% the opposite. In fact, companies are courting those more seasoned and tenured employees because, frankly, they are tired of hiring younger employees who don’t have a sense of loyalty and commitment. I can understand why they don’t have that loyalty or commitment; it’s been a rough recession and they have going through quite a few changes. As well, many in their 40s 50s 60s 70s felt the same exact thing. As a result, when an opportunity opens for a new job, new locale or ability to develop new skills, many younger professionals bolt; older more seasoned staff may elect to stay.

Companies like CVS Caremark make it a practice to hire older workers (reverse discrimination?) and in fact, 25% of their workforce is over 65 years old. The same goes for Home Depot, The Container Store and while not a surprise to me, many smaller, established companies – and that is what our regional job market is made up of.

Then why do some older job applicants have a difficult time finding a job?

The experts seek to agree:

• Unrealistic Salary Expectations

• Dated Industry Experience (or industry experience that has gone away)

• Not having up-to-date technology skills – and showing it

Many industries shrunk or went away during the recession and trying to find a job in a dying industry – difficult if not impossible. As well, if someone was with a company for 20 years, gets laid off and expects the same starting salary somewhere else – likely not going to happen.

The last is the “biggie” in my opinion. I met so many seasoned workers who haven’t embraced new technology, social media, etc. The simple things like not having a LinkedIn profile, or not including an email address on a resume (yes – true). Technology rules the working world – so one must be on top and be sharp or suffer.

Is there job discrimination in hiring?

I would be Pollyanna if I were to say it does not exist. The fact is yes - age discrimination does exist and it is terrible when it occurs to someone. .

However my question I ask is this “” if you were working for a company that you felt didn’t want a more seasoned and tenured person in the company, is that such a big issue? I’ve been in situation working in a company with a number of 20 and 30 year olds when I was in my mid 40s as a consultant. I used to catch a lot of heat because of my age. I just elected to let it go and fit in – it wasn’t malice and I knew it going in.

If you interview in a company and you notice that you are probably the most senior person - even older than the ownership - you will likely not fit the culture or engage with the staff, so why subject yourself to it?  Rather find a company or role where you would fit in best and where you would feel culturally aligned.

Please put the “excuse” of your age out of your mind if you are having a tough time finding a job You can do whatever you want to do it any point in time in your career - you just need to set your mind to it. No one can hold you back - absolutely no one. It is easy to say you didn’t get a job you applied to because your age but likely it was not that at all. In fact, it’s probably some other fact that you didn’t really realize until now.

Age occurs – can’t do much or really anything about it. I have a wood carving on my wall, which says, “It's never too late to be what you could have been”. Remember those words. After all age is a state of mind and you have a choice on dealing with it - at least in my opinion.

Thank you, as always, for reading this.-Dan

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