Age discrimination is a fact of life in the American workplace these days. Companies are firing older workers because they’re the more expensive workers, both in salary and benefit cost terms. Some industries, such as technology, also hold to the mistaken belief that only younger workers can keep pace with all the changes going on in their field. Some companies feel the same way, keeping over-50 employees to 20% or less of their workforces.
Being a 50-plus worker today is tough. Being a 50-plus job hunter is even tougher. How do you get your foot in the door, much less get seriously considered for a position, in this environment? I came across some worthwhile advice on the Middletown Patch recently that might help. It had four key tips for older workers.
It’s first tip, apply for appropriate jobs, relates to not applying for jobs you know you’re overqualified for. This can be tough in a tough economy, however, since that may be the only types of jobs you see available. The point is valid, but difficult to live by in a bad jobs market such as we have now.
The second recommendation is to be upfront about, and realistic about, salary needs. If you had a good-paying job and were let go, don’t expect to make that salary again. These are the days of salary decreases as you move from one job to another, not increases. And don’t expect raises as a matter of course anymore. Raises are a thing of the past at many companies.
The third point is to demonstrate you are current on, and comfortable with, the latest technology. I detest the stereotype of an older worker not being able to handle new technology. I do everything I can to disprove it in my work life yet I still run into that stereotype about me because of my age.
The last bit of advice, be open to change and be flexible about how you do things at work, leaves me a bit concerned. I think there’s a difference between saying you want to work a certain way because it is the most efficient way for you to work and not being flexible. Being flexible means trying new things. Knowing yourself should not be misinterpreted as not being flexible, but again I run into this constantly as well.