Am I Too Old To Find Work?

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Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m an experienced, educated manufacturing manager who was downsized at the age of 62 in July of last year. I have been working daily through networking, Web sites and headhunters to find a new position. My wife thinks it is my age; although I don’t want to believe that, she may be correct. I do not want to retire — I am healthy, in good shape and have a lot to offer. What can I do? — Doug

J.T.: Lately we’ve had a lot of people write in about age discrimination. Sure, age could be a factor, but I really think it’s more a reflection of the bad economy.

Dale: Let’s put age discrimination in perspective before we move past it: The average search takes about three months if you’re under 45, and an extra month or two if you’re 45 or older. But this isn’t all discrimination; partly, it’s a matter of pursuing senior-level jobs and higher pay. So, what can you do? Well, use your experience to accelerate the process: You need to use your network — a GIANT advantage of being a veteran worker, by the way — to get more meetings, faster, and thus offset the age effect.

J.T.: Agreed. That said, let me share this: At this stage in your career, employers are expecting you to have a lot of expertise. They also expect you to be able to showcase it in a way that proves you are highly valuable. When you do this, ageism goes away because your skills are so attractive. I met a woman recently who is a great example; she’s 68 and a nurse. The company she works for won’t let her retire. They take such good care of her because she is an incredible worker who is famous within the organization for her patient care.

Dale: Be young in enthusiasm and young in curiosity, and your welcome never grows old.


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Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons).

Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

J.T. & Dale

“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.

One comment

  1. If you are 'too old to work', then it was your choice. Workplace Marketability can be age-neutral; it's REALLY all up to you. Here, read on…

    10 Tips for Neutralizing Age-Bias

    Yesterday’s Baby-Boomers, today’s mature workers, may be facing for the first time a bias towards younger workers. Here's the GOOD! They don’t have to.

    Is there a bias towards the younger worker? If so, then our one-time “Baby Boomers”, today’s mature worker, may for the first time be facing age discrimination, yes? Well…only if you can prove it. The question then becomes ‘what good would it do you if you did…a job with that organization? Would you want that? NOT! Okay, here’s the deal: The key for the mature professional conducting a job search, according to Randolph L. Stevens, Founder and President of R.L. Stevens & Associates, a 28-year old full service career firm, is authenticating relevancy, fit and adaptability; and when you can do that better than the next person, you get hired. So, put your energy into defining your unique “value-mix” as Randy Stevens calls it – your mix of talent, experience, skills, core competencies, etc. you know, your Branding – and illustrate how that mix will benefit an organization.

    Workplace marketability is almost always age-neutral. If the mature worker does not successfully convey the right message or demonstrate the right proposition – how his or her value-mix can benefit the employer, he or she may feel a bias; however, it is a bias towards the more relevant, better-fit, more adaptable candidate, not necessarily a bias against age. Prove your value and benefit and you’ll be hired!

    Here are 10 Tips for the Baby Boomer seeking a career or industry change, or a transition into a new role:

    1. Use your marketing letters and documentation to show employers a history of growth in and dedication to professional development.
    2. Prove your continued intellectual vitality: Be prepared to outline completion of recent coursework, certifications, programs and other skill enhancements relevant to today’s business challenges and needs.
    3. Show how you stay on top of technology trends.
    4. Develop a “Webfolio” to show cutting-edge market awareness.
    5. Be knowledgeable on the use of the Internet and Windows-based programs.
    6. Eliminate everything that makes you appear older and possible out-of-step: Update your physical appearance, wardrobe and communications skills.
    7. Demonstrate your marketplace knowledge (i.e. market/industry changes and trends).
    8. Be knowledgeable of the day-to-day challenges (problems, concerns & opportunities) employers face and link them to you as a solution-provider.
    9. Demonstrate your adaptability and flexibility regarding hours and compensation: Consider proposing alternatives (i.e. project work, contract work or consulting).
    10. Entertain the idea of working part-time for multiple employers rather than just one. (Demonstrated value could lead to permanent positions)

    The REAL Deal: Employers weed-out job candidates whose skills are out-dated or who exhibit low energy or little flexibility, or any combination of these. Some may call it ‘age discrimination'. I call it fielding candidates for the most relevant marketability. The operative word here is “relevancy”.

    I assure you, if you follow the 10 tips above, you will discover that there is a far more interesting and robust job market for the mature worker than you may have imagined. It’s really up to you!

    Hope this helps!

    Rob Taub, Credentialed Career Master, is a 25-year veteran in the career consulting field, Principal at RésuméPro Plus resumeproplus.com, creator of the blog, Job Search Corner: “Job Searching with Rob” bit.ly/18wCkO and is a CAREEREALISM-Approved Expert and LivePerson's Online Expert for Career Coaching http://www.liveperson.com/rob-taub

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