Does Age Matter?
We are all facing the effects of the “Big Reset” being thrust upon us by this particularly vexing economy, and this means that adapting and adjusting on every level is vital to success. Let’s face it; we live in a world of judgments and perceptions where everything, from fashion to finance, matters. And so, it follows that within the job-hunting arena, age matters, too. This is not a good thing, or a bad thing, or an unfair thing—it just is and should be faced pragmatically. So, how are we going to face it?
Just as there are definable passages in human development (infancy, childhood, adulthood, middle-age, and old-age), there are definable passages embedded within, “The Great Job Hunt.” There is an age-appropriate approach, and it’s all about the decades, baby.
Twenty-year-olds are worried about getting their foot in the door. During this decade, experience is limited, but it is an optimal time for taking career risks, since fiscal responsibility is low. This is a time of experimentation, when working for lower wages, interning, or even volunteering is a grand way to gain valuable experience.
Thirty-year-olds are becoming a little more focused in their career trajectory. This is the decade to focus your resume on showing job growth and longevity.
“Think about the next job on your resume,” said Elizabeth Lions, Human Resources Consultant and Career Coach. “Does it make sense in your career path? If it doesn’t, don’t make that move. Your resume tells a story.” (http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/job-search-in-your-20s-30s-40s-50s-60s).
By the 40’s, your career should show, not only growth, but also focus and meaning. However, because of skills and experience, you are now considered more expensive to employ. You need to convince prospective employers that you are worth it. The focus is now on “branding” yourself (http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/successful-career-planning-management).
The dream of retiring in your late 50’s and 60’s, collecting Social Security, and sailing off into the great sea of relaxation, hobbies, and travel is quickly morphing into the nightmare of retiring, perhaps, but because of that pesky, economic “Big Reset,” having to flail your way back into an age-slanted job market. It’s scary. In order to combat the age stigma, 50 and 60-year-olds need to remain current on all fronts: Technology, skills, vernacular, appearance, attitude.
Invest in yourself; learn new and current technology. Re-imagine your transferable skills; update your old ones. Lynda.com offers practical tutorials that really work, from MS Office to the latest software and business skills. This is the time to believe in yourself, and to convince others to believe in you. After all, you have decade’s worth of practical and valuable experience to offer employers.
Is your conversation up to date? Do your words “date” you? Do you know what Facebook is? Are you on LinkedIn? While you may have zero interest in actively pursuing social media, social media is a major currency of the modern job market; it is employment cache. Get plugged into the vernacular of social media so that you can speak intelligently and be engaging to a hiring manager who will, more than likely, be your child’s age.
Be your own best advocate and package appropriately. A very big concern to employers for hiring candidates in the 50’s and 60’s is health. During these decades, health issues can be costly to employers, so focus on being and presenting a healthy package. Be fashion-forward on interviews. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and smile. Amazingly, statics reveal that as people age, they smile less. Smiling is associated with youth. Pull out the Crest White Strips and smile!
Finally, you have years and year’s worth of real-world knowledge. You may even have advanced degrees; you know a thing or two. Don’t be a Know-It-All. It is vital to always remember that no matter your age, an old dog can learn new tricks! Get excited about learning new things, be a good listener, and be enthusiastic. Present this image and your prospective employer will be excited about hiring YOU!