There’s the problem in a nutshell; you’re feeling old. Oh it starts out innocently; remember when you wondered why on earth publishers were making the type smaller and harder to read? They didn’t of course, you just needed glasses because your eyesight was changing. In Canada we switched from Fahrenheit to Celsius, from miles to kilometres, and there’s a whole generation who can’t tell the temperature or speed without converting and they’re all over 55 years old. ‘They’ introduced computer gadgets, and while you were told it would save time, it actually took forever because you were so resistant to learning how to use the technology in the first place – it was just a fad and would fry you with radiation.
Now you find you can’t apply for a job without filling out an application on-line. Your keyboarding speed being what it is, you’re lucky to get one or two applications done in an entire day. Where did the old days go when you could walk in, meet the person doing the hiring face-to-face and offer to work for a few days for free and got hired on the spot? Remember when candy was a penny? Yeah that’s not coming back either.
If you have fewer than 15 years of productive employment left, you may find yourself feeling discriminated against in the job application process. Whether it’s true or not is one thing, but if you walk in feeling ancient in the first place, don’t be surprised if that image comes across when you meet others. Some folks age gracefully, take care of their appearance, stay vibrant and healthy, keep their enthusiasm for life and remain positive. Others tend to shuffle, only occasionally shave, let their clothes get out of current styles, and carry chips on their shoulders because Life is apparently a trickster and they feel they’re the butt of the cruel joke being played out.
If you want to be successfully employed and you are 50 years or older, I say you’ve got a tremendous advantage if you are wise enough to not only recognize it, but exploit that advantage. Consider that you have perhaps thirty years of experience; and experience my friends is exactly what young people constantly lament as the reason they are passed over for employment. Score one for you!
Being 50 or more, you don’t have childcare issues except in rare circumstances, so you’ll be more reliable to the employer, and won’t need any time to deal with childhood illnesses and issues. While I acknowledge you may have aging parents that require your caregiver abilities, the needs of the two groups are not identical.
Thinking about experience for a moment, you’re undoubtedly better equipped to deal with some situations because you have more life experience. What may be new and disconcerting for someone else to deal with is old hat for you! It’s not a crisis, and you can calmly deal with things because you’ve experienced things over the years.
The biggest obstacle you may encounter is actually your own attitude. Do you feel old? How about tired? Worn down? Ancient? Almost fossilized? OUCH! But seriously your own personal attitude and how you view yourself gets communicated non-verbally, and often before you even open your mouth to speak. When was the last time you walked with a spring in your step, smiled naturally instead of having to force it, and shared a picture with your BFF on FB? If you don’t want to be thought of as over the hill and ready to be put out to pasture, start embracing not fearing social media, the computer, the internet, and all the advantages that come with them. Sure there are problems; but overall computers do make things quicker, data easier to find, tabulations more accurate, and work more portable. It’s networking daddy-o circa 2014.
Updating your look will go a long way to keeping you relevant too. Lose the beehive hairdo, ditch the suspenders and stop carrying around a briefcase. Might as well lose the pocket protector too. Look closely at those younger people who are working where you’d like to also work. Watching them will help you determine what clothing trends are in. What can you do to look like them while at the same time being comfortable with your appearance. Rather than trying to be something you’re not, be a more updated version of who you really are.
Sometimes the greatest fear stems from having 10 – 15 years or less left to work, needing to work, but having to change career or job because one finds oneself out of work and can no longer do the work one previously did. Re-inventing yourself can be frustrating and scary, especially if the mind is willing but the body isn’t capable. But this can be liberating! Look at this time as a chance to explore other options, maybe ou don’t have to start entirely from scratch and can use your transferable skills.
2014 is a new year. For you personally, will it be a year fraught with new situations to view as problems or explore with vitality and enthusiasm?
Employment Advisors are only one source you can tap into to help you deal with issues of age, and perceptions of age. You’d do well to get help. We’re all getting older day by day, how you view this makes all the difference and is the key!