CAREER ADVICE: I’ve been classified as a “mature” job seeker. What can I do to overcome ageism?

Good Afternoon Dorothy:

I am 60, unemployed (2 years), recently broke, due in part to this thing called “the Nonverbal Maskeconomy”, and have acquired some skills regarding coping with today’s job market.  My resume has been tuned and retuned several times.  Keywords are plentiful, my social network is developed, LinkedIn has been SEO’d and I’m at over 600 connections and participating daily in over 25 groups.  In spite of my developing talent for being unemployed, I can’t forget the words a Canadian recruiter said (off the record) about a very nice zone management position with a prestigious multi-national company, which had interviewed me twice.  I felt so positive after the second interview that I was ready to move immediately.  He said, “the company has classified you as ‘mature – experienced’, which means that they’re looking for someone with your skill set…but younger!”

Since I’m ‘mature – experienced’ enough to know ageism when I see, hear, and read it, what wisdom can you impart upon the growing group of boomers who are facing these issues?  Are there real bonafide companies who hire seniors for the long-term and not simply for part-time ‘smiley faced’ customer service positions?  I’m healthy and in serious “age denial”; I don’t like being treated like an old pair of shoes – only worthy of being used when cleaning the dog kennel…after a rainstorm.

Hi T, I completely understand your frustration with the ageism thing.  There are a few things you can do to help mitigate the issue but as all biases go, they can sometimes be so subtle you never really know.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Essentially, the concerns people/companies have with older workers is: 1- retiring soon 2- difficulty making changes/want to stick with “old ways” of doing things 3- lack of energy and therefore dedication 4- avoid technology.  With that said, I believe the best defense is a good offense.   Sprinkle words in your resume and cover letters that reflect just the opposite of what I just said.  Repeat during interviews so any prejustice they might have is already addressed.  If they don’t ask, bring it up with a rhetorical question like: You may want to know what my plans are for retiring? Or we haven’t discussed my technology capabilities but they are fairly advanced…..
  • There is a great book that covers every aspect of a job search for people over 40 it’s called:  Over 40 Job Search by Gail Geary.  She doesn’t mince words.  She tells you to check how you look and many times there is real room for improvement and updating our look.  My mother told me a long time ago that one thing that ages people is their failure to keep up with current styles.  I’m not saying you have to dress like a hip-hop artist, but if your clothes are older than 10 years, get new ones.  She also addresses everything from how to format your resume to how you interact during an interview.
  • My observation is that while the ageism is not gender specific, it does seem to hit men harder.  The reason is that women have generally been faced with bias most of their careers.  I know I have.  This may be something new for you. It doesn’t have to mean you won’t get hired at a position of your choice but it may mean you will now have to work at it harder than you used to.  I never looked at the gender bias I faced as anything other than I would just have to work a bit harder to get ahead and it always seemed to work.  One of my mentors was a very successful black man, who also understood that reality for him.  He simply shrugged it off like I did.  We, like you, will come to understand that you really don’t want to work for a place that doesn’t want “people like you”.  It will be unpleasant and demeaning.  So, no, you don’t have to relegate yourself to becoming a door greeter.  You can make this happen without compromising your career but you are dealing with a “double whammy” of a tough job market and age.  It will work for you, just stay in the race and keep doing all the right things you are doing.

Bonus Tip: Adapting is key to your career survival, growth and advancement. Get Free Instant Access to Video series The 5 Most Common Ways Introverts Commit Career Self-Sabotage and How to Avoid Them. Click here now: www.introvertwhisperer.com/careergoals Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, Introvert Whisperer, dedicated to unleashing your career potential. www.introvertwhisperer.com

 

Change Careers? Not for Love or Money?

As I was growing up, the term “for Love or Money” was often used after a statement about Office Lovedoing something. It was a way of saying the two most important things in the world are still not big enough, powerful enough or important enough to move or sway a person to do something. When it comes to improving your job or career, clearly we’re not changing for love or money, because 60% of us hate our job and are simply not doing anything about it. Yet, love and money can be significantly improved, if we were to make that step. What’s holding us back?

I have my theories and I’ve done some internet surfing to see what data has been collected on this topic. So far, it appears to boil down to three things:

  1. We’re afraid of how a career change might negatively impact our income.
  2. We’re afraid to change.
  3. We’re confused about how to make that big decision.

In an attempt to convince you to take action, I’d like to provide some solutions to these three issues.

Issue: We are afraid our income will go down and we won’t be able to afford our lifestyle.

Solutions:

  • Without doing the work to understand what career you might pursue, you are only guessing this might be an issue. There are literally hundreds of thousands of careers all with varying levels of salaries. Do the work to find out what career you might want and the salary that goes with it. As you are pursuing the work, define what you think you need for salary on both a short and long term basis. Sometimes you will have to start at a lower salary, but if the upward potential is there, it might only be a short term issue to manage.
  • Just because you are starting a new career, it’s not an automatic conclusion that you will start at a lower salary. If you haven’t done the work, you simply don’t know.
  • Assuming you face a lower salary, you need to plan for the salary dip. When I left education to go into the business setting, I had no idea what kind of salary I would get or how long it would take to get increases. As a result, I took a year to pay off all my bills and stash away a reserve to live on. When I took the plunge, I lived with a friend for a few months, which further reduced my overhead. I was then free to find a career that would interest me, rather than just find something that was at a salary level I was used to. It was the best decision I made. I took a 2-year salary reduction, but in the long run that decision paid off hugely.
  • Once you have done the work to find the career you can be passionate about, consider staying at your current job just long enough to pay off your bills. Start living on the salary level you think you might get. Get the program worked out in advance of making the plunge.

Issue: We are more afraid of change than we’d like to admit. It seems we all have a different temperament for making change. Some people are drawn to it and others avoid it.

Solutions:

  • Change has an emotional component to it known as transition. It’s uncomfortable, because we are in the midst of changing our behavior and the things we have become familiar with. Even bad things, like a bad job, are familiar and somewhat predictable. But just like getting a boo-boo on your knee, it will only feel uncomfortable for a limited amount of time. You have to position yourself to know with a change that will bring you great job satisfaction, also comes some level of passing discomfort. You simply need to know it will pass.
  • Prepare for the change and transition by deliberately working on and putting a voice to your concerns. Once you have them identified, write them down and problem solve. This process puts your brain into a new, less emotional gear called logic. Logic isn’t emotional and it acts just like a fire hose. It will lessen the anxiety you feel and it will give you some tasks to perform that will absolutely be helpful.
  • Study change and transition. There are some books on the subject that can help tremendously.

Issue: Unfortunately, we don’t have much to go on when it comes to figuring out a new career. The most tried and true method is: “I’ll find some work”. Most of us end up in our careers by default, but increasingly there are resources to help figure it out. There is a difference between job search and career change. The first, you get a job, the latter, you make a decision.

Solutions:

  • There are books, online resources and career coaches who have this figured out. Go in search and you will find.
  • If you don’t take action, you will never find anything. It’s remarkable the number of times I hear people say they don’t know what they’d do, but they have done virtually nothing to answer the question.
  • The best career decision is one founded on self-discovery, exploration and experimentation. You have to look at this decision as one that requires you to discover more about yourself, perhaps at a level you’ve never done before. Get on the internet, do some research, talk to people you know about their work. In other words, get interested in this world of careers and suddenly you’ll discover all kinds of fun, exciting careers.

If you are unhappy in your job or career, you can’t assume it will magically improve. We often hang on much longer than we need to. When you are unhappy in your career, you actually run the risk of limiting your income. Studies have found the happier we are, the better our income is. Being unhappy also brings with it stress and the resulting health impact, as well as impact to our relationships. It is truly a matter of love and money.

Bonus Tip: Adapting is key to your career survival, growth and advancement. Get Free Instant Access to Video series The 5 Most Common Ways Introverts Commit Career Self-Sabotage and How to Avoid Them. Click here now: www.introvertwhisperer.com/careergoals Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, Introvert Whisperer, dedicated to unleashing your career potential. www.introvertwhisperer.com