Career Strategies: Age Discrimination Changes

In the last 30 days two clients, one fiftysomething and one sixtysomething were offered excellent jobs at significant salary increases.  One doubled his salary.  Neither had a spotless job record, including periods of unemployment, several short-term jobs, and a few detours.  How could such “blemished” candidates prevail in the Great Recession?   Both of them actually listened to what the hirer said he wanted.  And what could they do that made them worth so much more than a similarly skilled thirtysomething? This is anecdotal, but not uncommon, evidence that some hirers are making decisions on criteria that didn’t matter in 2007.

Cheaper isn’t necessarily better.  Especially when cheaper, as in thirtysomething, consists of someone who arrives, does the job for a few months, and then decides it’s not his/her thing.  The new hire moves on, takes a sabbatical, returns to school, or otherwise leaves the job.  Since the new hire was actually passing through on the road to self employment or wealth creation with a start-up, what the hiring manager had assumed — a multi-year commitment — was pure fantasy.

Older workers don’t have the same opportunities with internet start-ups.  They have to fit in to corporate America and make a commitment.  Chasing youth, as so many Fortune 500 companies do,  bites back.  The company’s lustre is age specific.  At one time, working for P & G or Kraft insured marketing stardom.  Does anyone under 35 think that now?  Could it be that the best place for a mature candidate to apply is with companies who’ve been dumped by younger workers off to work for the next Groupon?

Office politics is an older worker’s reality, not a younger person’s.  Sometimes office politics is a pain but older workers get it and most can deal.  Younger workers act as if ignoring office politics and relationship buildings will get rid of both!  The Boomers (born 1946-1959) dirty secret is they like the push and shove and they love euphemistic communications which no one under 35 will tolerate.

The tail on this tale: Position your age as an asset.  If you’re 60 don’t duck.  Ask in an interview:  “You have so many young people here.  What kinds of mentors and role models do you provide?”  That question has refocused many an interviewer who had decided the person across the desk was way old.  Rethink your pitch.  Why are you a better bet than any 30-year-old they could hire?   Find out the well-paid jobs your younger friends have left.  There may be a burnt hirer who’d love to talk to you.

Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies

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