This week alone, on the same day, two candidates asked me about this very topic. Their concerns were if ageism is real and why they aren’t getting any interest when they have applied for many different roles. One even said bluntly, “How can I not be thought of as a dinosaur? After all, I have another 15 years or more to work.” Both candidates said they want to continue to learn, grow, add value, and be a mentor – they do indeed have much to offer.
What is the reality? Today about 33 percent of men and 25 percent of women are working until age 69. In terms of finding that next role, it takes approximately one year or more on average for those age 50+.
The workplace of today is also changing and rapidly including social change and work/life integration. Let’s review of few of the changes from the past:
- Stability, predictability, rigid vs. Change, uncertainty, flexible
- Paternalistic vs. Empowerment
- Hierarchical vs. Flat
- Homogeneity vs. Diversity
- Individual contribution vs. Team
- Tenure & loyalty vs. Rewarding for performance
- One-time learning vs. Lifelong learning & development
- On-site working vs. Telecommuting/virtual
According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), they found HR professionals see the following advantages to hiring older workers including:
- Invaluable work experience (72%)
- Stronger work ethic (69%)
- More reliable (68%)
In addition, both workers and their managers agree experience in the workplace is invaluable. However, perception is reality. In another survey, hiring managers felt some “seasoned” workers had high salary demands, were over confident in their abilities and experience, as well as had difficulty adapting to new technologies and taking direction from a younger manager.
So, given all of this, what should I do? Acknowledge the reality and take the challenge head on!
- Focus on the future and how you can add value vs. dwelling on the past – duties and responsibilities.
- Update your technology skills including social media, especially LinkedIn.
- In terms of your resume, update it to include only the last 15-20 years and eliminate college graduation dates. Use action words that focus on accomplishments that portray energy and positivity.
- Expand your network and focus on networking events.
- Use your age and experience as an asset vs. liability. Elaborate on how you can and have driven business results in a variety of circumstances and situations as you have weathered a number of storms and economic cycles. Use your stability and long-term commitment as a positive vs. negative.
- Be ready to directly answer interview questions such as, “What will you be doing in 5 or 10 years? Don’t you think you’re overqualified for this role? How will you deal with reporting to a younger and less experienced manager?” Reassure the hiring manager you do not want their job and how you can help them.
In summary, coming full circle – stay positive, future focused, and competitive by continuing to learn and grow professionally. You do indeed have much to offer!
Mark is seasoned business executive with more than 25 years of experience. Mark has a strong background in financial and business operations management with a passion for business results, leadership, and achieving goals in a collaborative team environment. Mark personally leverages his Gallup Strengths: Context, Harmony, Achiever, Responsibility, and Consistency. Mark is excited to bring you the Aureus Group portfolio of staffing/recruiting programs including project staffing, direct hire, interim executives, and retained search. Mark has a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Business Administration from Loras College in Dubuque, IA. Mark also earned an MBA from the University of Rochester William E Simon School of Business located in Rochester, NY.