Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently began to seek full-time employment in sales. One company owner was impressed and hired me on the spot. When the HR person later asked my birthday, and I revealed that I was 70 years old, I could see a distinct change. I was never given the promised training. After six months, I was downsized, even though I had just brought in a big account. A younger woman, hired later, was kept on. Since then I’ve gotten interviews but no offers. How does a woman my age find employment? - Diane
J.T.: Please know that you will continue to be discriminated against. The prevailing assumption is that work output slows with age, as does the ability to keep up with technology. In this economy, the emphasis is on two things: speed and technology. So be prepared for more of the same.
DALE: There’s a ray of sunshine. But I can’t disagree. The question is how you overcome the discrimination, and that starts with selling yourself. Here’s something I found helpful. I went online to one of the sites with birthdates for celebrities. It cheered me to find that I’m about the same age as Jay Leno, Richard Branson, and Meryl Streep, and 20 or more years younger than Clint Eastwood, the architect Frank Gehry, and many others.
I could see your using such a list in job interviews. Remember, no one is going to bring up the issue of age, but they’ll think it. So say something like: “You may be wondering about my age. Let me say that I’m a lot younger than Warren Buffett, William Shatner, or Toni Morrison.”
J.T.: You also might add, “They say you’re as old as you feel, and I feel about 35.”
DALE: Or, “I’m old enough to know that companies hire people because they make the company more money than they cost. Let me tell you about a recent major sale of mine.”
J.T.: Good. Change the conversation to how you can make the company money, and you’ll get a new result. After all, money never gets old.
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