What do you consider to be the biggest stumbling block to your success as a job-seeker? Is it your age? Do you think you're being passed over in favor of a younger, cheaper labor force?
If so, you may unwittingly be sabotaging your efforts by placing both conscious and unconscious barriers in your path. In order to be effective, candidates need to exude energy, confidence and enthusiasm. And, given the ups and downs of a job search, keeping your energy high is difficult enough without believing your chances for success are greatly minimized by your age. If you think that you're no longer valued in the work world, it's an awfully big challenge to present yourself as a confident, can-do candidate.
The good news as that, while ageism is definitely out there, it's not as pervasive as you've been led to believe. It is true that it will probably take you longer to find re-employment than your younger counterparts and that you'll likely have to take a cut in pay. But, despite these less than stellar realities, there are plenty of companies who appreciate the many pluses of hiring someone with a proven track record. Age and experience enhance expertise in both hard and soft skills and organizations are beginning to appreciate that fact.
In a recent study co-produced by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and AARP, nearly three-quarters of HR professionals noted that their organizations' loss of talent -- due to older workers retiring/leaving their organization -- was considered either a problem or a potential problem. They made particular note of the lack of written communication skills (English grammar, spelling, etc.) of younger employees, as well as problems with general work ethic and overall professionalism.
So the next time you're feeling that ageism is an insurmountable roadblock to your success, pull out this list of 10 reasons why companies will want to hire YOU!
- You have market knowledge and a well-honed skill set gained over years of experience.
- Due to this experience, your critical thinking and problem-solving skills are likely superior to those of younger workers.
- You have an extensive network of customers, coworkers, colleagues and friends. Moreover, because many in your network are older, they're more likely to have senior-level contacts.
- Your communication skills (especially written language) far excel those of younger applicants.
- You have life skills gained over years of experience dealing with people. You can get along with others, know how to manage your emotions at work and you realize the importance of being a contributing team member.
- You are less likely to be thrown by difficult situations. You've handled your share of sizeable crises and resolved significant problems many times over the years.
- You are not necessarily assertively climbing the corporate ladder so you won't pose a threat to the more aggressive up-and-comers.
- You have the knowledge and ability to mentor younger workers and teach them the valuable techniques and tools that translate into ongoing success for the organization.
- You tend to be more appreciative of the job, complain less and require little, if any, supervision.
- You have a mature work ethic. You understand the value of being responsible, showing up on time, and following through to complete assigned tasks.
These are just a few of the benefits you bring with you as a seasoned applicant. Your age has gifted you with several additional positive attributes that will be attractive to employers if you present yourself from a position of strength. So don't apologize and feel "less than" because of your age. Be proud of the added value and numerous strengths you bring as a candidate of maturity, and be certain to speak to these assets as you network and during a job interview.
Above all, remember that a positive attitude will absolutely help your chances. In fact a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, proved just that. So anticipate success: With the right opportunity, a bit of luck, and the right attitude, you might just find yourself landing your next job!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Recently updated, it's packed with even more information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!