"I know my age is working against me, and that's why I'm not getting any offers," is the gist of these conversations. Full disclosure: I do not live under the illusion that there is no such thing as age discrimination. I know it exists, sometimes subconsciously, and I work with clients to make their career documents and job search strategies more 'perennial'.
While I have lots of strategies and tips up my sleeve regarding ways to project vibrancy and relevance, there is a basic question that candidates must consider.
What is MY truth about my age and stage of life?
In other words, what do you really, REALLY think about where you are and where you're headed?
Are you up to date on your field's technology and emerging trends? Or are defying hiring decision makers to extend an offer, telegraphing that learning new things isn't, ahem, on your radar?
Are you referring to yourself as not being as energetic as you used to be...even if it's just in jest?
I've actually heard these kinds of things with my own two ears. And they make me feel like this...
I suggest that these mindsets are not all that different from walking into an interview wearing a sandwich board that says "I'm tired, rigid, and just want a paycheck. Hire me!"
It's important to add that I've also worked with plenty of candidates - many older than me - who are continual learners, infuse optimism into their search, and understand that they're being assessed by their potential to contribute, solve a business challenge, and become a trusted and connected member of a team. And there are lots of us - me included, God willing - who plan to work for quite a long time!
So I challenge mature job seekers to objectively assess the message they're sending in their job search. Are you metaphorically wearing the sandwich board I mentioned earlier? Or are you transmitting your unique value proposition - including your energy, enthusiasm for learning, and optimism?
Of course, there are changes that come with age, and I'm not downplaying them. For example, I try not to burn the candle at both ends two days in a row or I feel sluggish, low energy, and unfocused. I also sometimes have to take an extra deep breath to summon additional patience and 'good cheer' during interactions that even a few years ago would have been 'all in the course of a day.' Be aware of what you need to do to feel on top of your game and proceed accordingly.
If you've been wearing the prior-mentioned metaphorical sandwich board while working on your job search, it's time for a makeover. Break up the sandwich board toss it in the trash; it is most definitely on our what NOT to wear list! Start doing the work to build your resilience, increase energy and vibrancy, and develop the skills your target market considers to be in demand.
In wild support of your success,
*If you have a disability that impacts employment, please visit
https://www.careeronestop.org/ResourcesFor/WorkersWithDisabilities/workers-with-disabilities.aspx for helpful information.