NOTE: I know that age discrimination cuts both ways. In my last real job search I found that I was too old for some of the jobs I was most qualified for, yet too young to apply to the jobs that I wanted (and had done, but only for a couple of years… my competition had decades of experience on me). This article talks more about the older job seeker, but the ideas and the ending are relevant to the younger job seekers facing discrimination.
My good friend Norm from NYC sent me this Wall Street Journal article titled Five Myths About Landing a Good Job Later in Life. The author, Anne Tergersen, “writes about retirement” for the WSJ.
It’s a pretty optimistic, encouraging, happy article. The five myths, which she busts, are:
Myth 1: I’m not going to find a good job.
Myth 2: You can’t take time off, or you’ll never get back into the workforce
Myth 3: I’m not going to make as big of a contribution as I did in the past.
Myth 4: The only type of work available to older applicants is part time.
Myth 5: The chance to be an entrepreneur has passed me by.
It is encouraging to read her article, and see the stats she presents to prove that those are all myths. The hope is abundant.
That is… until you read the comments. The 125+ comments tell a different story. The story from the trenches is that age discrimination is alive and well.
I’ve been going over some of my old Ask The Expert interviews and age discrimination has come up. I’m a firm believer that it exists. Recruiters and career coaches caution you to not let age discrimination become THE excuse for you not finding a job.
I agree that we shouldn’t fixate on age… I’ve seen the results of fixating like that. EVERYTHING happens wrong because “I’m too old, no one wants to hire someone my age.”
Depression sets in, you lose any speck of confidence you used to have, and you know have a convenient scapegoat for all of your job search failures.
I have seen it. I have even had my own scapegoats. It is a waste of time and energy.
I’m not saying it’s not real. What I’m suggesting is to not let it (your age) be the excuse for not making progress.
When your age becomes your brand, you have a branding problem. And, as CEO of Me, Inc… as VP of Marketing for Me, Inc, you have a task: to rebrand yourself.
Instead of being “that old guy/gal,” you need to be “the person with expertise that we haven’t seen, but we need!”
Instead of being the person who is “too expensive,” you need to be the person they “need to hire, and it’s a bargain to get you.”
Think of the old adage: turn your (perceived) weaknesses into (perceived) strengths.
I know, I know, this is much easier said than done. But I’ll tell you, you aren’t the only one with a problem in your job search. Be creative, be purposeful, be strategic, be smart, and attack the problem head on. The goal is to get your next great job, not to try to change how discrimination works.