Is It Age Discrimination, Really -- Or Are You Just Whining?

Here’s a message from a handful of 60+ year-olds after reading the complaints of some others that age who “are getting passed over” in this hot job market “because of age discrimination”.

 

 

Dear fellow professionals in your 50s-60s:

 

Hey, older worker: get with it.

 

Literally.

 

And attitude-wise.

 

Get with it in terms of your skills: learn that new technology. Stop complaining and saying things like, “There are companies that are deliberatelymoving to zip codes that are harder to get to by those of us who are older and live in the suburbs! Can you believe it?!” That’s silly and the false belief only keeps you in victim mode.

 

But second: lower your expectations of pay until you get really good at the new thing. You know, like the 30 year oldyou used to be. You’ve done this before and now you have to do it again: stop whining and just do it. Don’t expect to get paid more than the 30 year olds just because you “have experience”. You still have to prove you’re worth it now. Yeah, you have to prove it again. And you’ll have to prove it again and again. That’s just the way it is now. Stop wasting time crying about it, and focus instead on increasing your value today.

 

Sure, you’ve honed a skill over many years. Now you apparently don’t want to adjust to the economic reality that your skill is dated. Or that only you can do it (not true). Too bad.

 

Maybe you entered [name your field] for the money, back when fewer people went into it. Maybe you had the desired skills then and had them for years. But now lots of people are in your field and you’re not so special any more. And you resent those younger competitors.

 

Maybe you’ve learned a new skill, which is great, but you’re crushed that everyone isn’t falling all over you. Could it be because you are asking for an outrageous salary from the get-go? Or you’re making demands about, say, working from home from day 1?

 

Younger competitors are willing to try anything, and work anywhere, so people like to hire them. Meanwhile, you get irritated when you’re asked to work that holiday eve, or to deliver the project in one week instead of two. Or if the company is downtown instead of in your lovely suburb.

 

So either stop complaining or step up to the bar and make changes. If you still want to complain, because it earns you membership in the Woe Is Me Club, don’t complain to us and others who are reinventing ourselves. We’re too busy getting restarted. And people are noticing.

 

Signed,

Your peers moving on to something great

Check out "Hang Out With the Employed" at Forbes.com

Rather than make a separate entry on this topic, check out my article published by Forbes.com, "In Job Search? Hang Out With the Employed!"

De-Age Your Resume By De-Aging Your Attitude

(an update of my 2015 article at the Skywater Search blog)

I'm a Boomer so I have plenty of sympathy for baby boomers who are in job search, and are being overlooked because they're perceived as expensive, stuck, and working in old ways that aren't used any more.

So I am often asked by more senior candidates (and consultants), "How do I look younger on my resume?" 

I don't think that's the right question.

I think the right question goes wider and deeper than that: it should be, "How do I adopt a more flexible attitude?"

While you can't change everyone's way of thinking -- and sometimes the most biased against boomers hiring managers are baby boomers themselves -- there are some things you do have control of. 

  • Embrace new ways of doing things. A big example: social media. Snickering when someone tells you how they use Twitter or Instagram isn't showing a younger, more open attitude. But asking that person to tell you more and show you how to use it, is.

  • Keep up your skills in your field. It's easy to get swept aside by the speed of change, easy to give up on learning ALL the new stuff. Take online courses, for example, in newer technologies and find ways of using them so you get comfortable. Attend certification courses that include an internship. Focus on a few big tools that everyone's asking for, to enhance your marketability.

  • Be open to contracting and consulting. This is a great way to accrue time using new skills in particular. 

  • Stop using an Objective, especially one that reads like so many others, such as "Eager to apply my ____ skills to add to the bottom line of the right company where I can be challenged". Replace it with a summary instead.

  • Don’t start your Summary with phrases such as "Senior ______ professional with over 25 years experience..." The reader’s reaction: “Expensive!” and perhaps “Entitled!”

  • Stop using lonnngggg sentences, which lose the reader’s interest. Keep sentences and phrases short, snappy. Tip: if you’re using semicolons, it indicates your sentences ARE too long. Plus, people don’t use them as much anymore (they often don’t know how). Keep it short.

  • Don’t use wordy, formal, lawyer-like phrases: "including but not limited to..." when describing a series of skills. Get to the point and list them.

  • Do NOT use a functional resume. You’re not fooling anyone by putting your job history on page 2 and stuffing page 1 with Competencies. Employers want to see what you did where and when. Don’t make them guess or they’ll go on to the next resume.

  • Mention how you learn something new in each role you’ve held, and want to continue learning. Give examples of very recent training, webinars, etc. This counteracts the notion that you are the older candidate, who is set in his/her ways and will just tell the team how to do everything.

In the end, they will know your age, but save it for when you are face to face with the potential employer. But dazzle them first with what you can actually bring them. 

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