Older adults appear to have a harder time finding jobs. It is true that employers discriminate against older people looking for work. There are various studies that support this theory. There are several reasons for this.
First of all I believe that in North America there is the culture of youth worship and a damaging under appreciation for the wisdom of our elders, secondly, employers may believe that they will have to pay an older worker more than a younger person because of the former’s vast experience and qualifications, thirdly the employer may feel that the older person many not fit in with a younger workforce or that the older worker may not be able to adapt to the fast changing pace of the modern workplace.
All of the reasons for not hiring the older worker have some truth in it but there are as many myths also. How does the older worker get around this dilemma? Attitude!
1. The older worker has to be open to learning new ways of working
2. The older worker has to develop a can-do attitude and not be intimidated by new technology – secretaries are becoming a dying breed. The computer has put the responsibility of executives to type their own letters. Employees invariably have to learn some kind of in-house program – you can do it.
3. The older worker has to see any opportunity to grow and broaden their experience as a worthwhile challenge. Woe to the worker who thinks that there is no benefit to learning a new skill at a certain age – that person is destined to become irrelevant and jobless.
4. The older worker must see continuous learning as a way to keep their brains fit, improve memory and a way of staving off dementia and other brain related diseases.
5. The older worker must be confident and be able to project that without being cocky. You have to be able to articulate how the skills you bring and your age will benefit the company – you can be a mentor to younger employees, you can deal better with the growing segment of older people in the world; you can make good decisions based on your experience, you can be a company trainer; and the list goes on.
6. Make a list of all the things you know, all the places you have worked, the contacts you have made and the skills you have acquired over the years. Employers these days are looking for skills rather than mere qualifications.
7. Develop a sense of humor – not the old fashioned humor that makes fun of people, races or religions – real humor. Everyone loves a little laughter.
8. Update your wardrobe – no frumpy 50’s or 60’s wear. Try little more modern outfits without trying to look like a teenager. That would be ridiculous. Some folks wear their age on their clothes, in their speech and everything and they are boring to be around. Make yourself interesting. Learn what is important to younger people and engage them.
9. Be willing to share your wisdom.
10. Show the world you are enjoying life – be an example for the younger generation and try to show them life can be great and fulfilling at any age.
Do not allow anyone to discount you because of your age. Age is a protected ground under the Human Rights laws of most developed countries and there are some who, in spite of all you can offer may discriminate against you. However, in most cases it is not solely on the basis of your age but chances are it is because of attitude. Some folks believe that because they are old they are entitled to some kind of respect; some people believe that because they are old they have to be accommodated even when there is no obvious disability requiring accommodation. Age is not a disability. People are living longer and healthier lives and the research shows that we are capable of doing a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. You have to look at life as a journey and you have to keep on the journey until the road comes to an end. Don’t just sit idly feeling sorry for yourself until you expire. Take life with both hands and go out there.
Until our thoughts embrace each other.