Old Age; Barrier Or Asset?


Turn up the font on this blog old dudes if you find it easier to read; this blogs for you.

Now before I throw myself into the blog, and for some of you out there, throw myself into a hangman’s noose, I’m 53 now, 54 in June. I want that right up front so you know what demographic I’m in on some census report. I’m also Caucasian, married, own my home, employed full-time, like the Beatles, gardening, drive a Smart Car, and play acoustic guitar. So what does any of that have to do with looking for a job and dealing with the issue of age? Nothing. Nothing at all unless of course I want to make them relevant personally.

Getting older is inevitable and while some movies have characters that reverse age or have stopped aging, or live for hundreds of years, it’s not likely going to happen in our reality. So with an overall average longevity of 84 years lets say, and a working life that might have you working anywhere from age 55 – 67 or so, you’re looking at almost 20 years of life after you stop working. Ironically you may have had about 20 years before you really got going at working too. Hmmm…40 not working and about 40 working give or take a few years either way.

So as you age, (or aged)you’ll find new challenges to deal with without question. Maybe its wearing glasses, false teeth, losing your hair, your temper, your patience, your memory, your tolerance for others etc. I didn’t say you will have all of these, but maybe some of these and there are lots more to deal with too. However, before you phone up the local Nursing Home and ask if they have a Party Planner to arrange your next birthday celebration, there’s a lot of positive things that happen as you age. Sure there are. Maybe you get wiser, more mature, no longer pay for a mortgage, get the thrill of grandchildren but not the responsibility full-time. Could be too that you are respected more, have a more senior position in your workplace, and command attention when you walk in the room.

However, let’s look at the older job seeker. Are you using your age as a crutch to explain your lack of success? Many countries are reporting aging populations, and with all those aging populations, you might actually be closer in age to the interviewer or the company president than that young pup sitting across from you in the Reception area with his headphones and electronic gadgets. Your life experience and diversity of employment might be vastly superior to his, so why not turn that into an asset?

Younger people are always been credited with picking up technology faster and easier, having more recent training, being full of energy and enthusiasm, and being open to learning. So, why not espouse some of these strengths of theirs as your own? Come across as inflexible, unwilling to adapt, set in your ways, living in the past and you just feed the stereotype. So take a course on your own time at night school or online. Use the internet to network professionally, create a social media presence, update your hairstyle and clothing – in short, get with it Daddy-o. Get hip to the trip, move to the groove, shake and bake, trade in the 8 track and download some tunes. Don’t know how to get started? Go shopping with your grandkid and tell him he’s your new fashion and technology consultant. You’ll have a blast and so will he. Hmmm…on second thought….just go in on your own to a reputable clothing store and look for a young salesperson and say you’re in their hands. Oh and smile a lot; she’ll think your cute.

Too many aging people are complaining about being discriminated against in part due to their age. Okay, so if that is really the case, what are YOU doing about it? I don’t mean suing the employer or calling some Human Rights Tribunal either. I mean what are you doing to set yourself apart from that stereotype? If the answer is honestly that you’re doing nothing well, they may be right. On the other hand, if you are still vibrant, creative, in good health, willing to learn and full of enthusiasm, SELL IT TO THE INTERVIEWER! Demonstrate all these things. Maybe you should turn off your Blackberry or I-Phone just in front of the interviewer so they actually see you have one! If they want to set up a second interview, put it in your electronic calendar. Use the new lingo that the company is using so you talk the same language.

It’s easier to use advancing years as an excuse rather than an asset because it takes so much less energy to complain about it than to do something about it … and you just proved that 19-year-old interviewer right by the way. If you have a lot to offer in the way of experience, maturity, wisdom, foresight etc., and you can marry these assets with the pros of youth, you’ve got a winning combination. Maybe you’ll bring stability to the workplace, can help the employer reach out to customers who identify more with someone in their own age group, and won’t be looking to climb over people and rise to the top. You’ll be happy to just cling to a middle rung on the ladder until you’re done. And you can assure the interviewer that you won’t engage in office gossip because you can’t hear half the things you used to anymore either! LOL (That means Laugh Out Loud these days Granny).

Bring your sense of humour to the interview but keep it appropriate and show some real vitality and enthusiasm. Downplay any health issues and look as put together as you can instead of ruffled, tired and stodgy. The person you most often have to convince that you still have what it takes is often sitting on the same side of the interview table as you are; imagine that.

3 thoughts on “Old Age; Barrier Or Asset?

  1. Inspiring, certainly. However despite all the optimism and good advice I’m afraid that the hiring managers are all generally young and inexperienced and unless they identify with their grandparents they are still more likely to hire those that are most similar to themselves unless their supervisors give direction otherwise. Unfortunately when an experienced worker is laid off and trying to find work of equal vaue and responsibility, the evidence of what you prescribe just doesn’t seem to pan out. I would like to see an ‘older workers’ movement arise similar to the student movements of the 1960s. Hey! this is the same demographic we are talking about here!

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