The best way to overcome ageism is to take control and be the exception to the rule.
Be an outlier.
Face it, people of all ages haven’t gotten the memo that ageism is not only wrong but self-defeating. Even if they agree with that statement, many will inevitably or subconsciously practice it. They go along with the false presumptions and assumptions about those of us that are older.
However, sometimes we’re just as guilty and we fail to overcome ageism because we aren’t the exception we are the perception.
Many older candidates don’t get the job because they’re out-of-date and lack self-awareness.
Their current skills aren’t up for the job and/or they won’t fit in. Hiring managers aren’t just looking at professional attributes. They’re also looking at workforce dynamics.
How you can overcome ageism
How you overcome ageism and be an outlier is to make sure you’re up-to-date in all respects from skills to attitude to awareness. You must prove you’re willing to work exceptionally well with all generations by being flexible, adaptable, respectful and inclusive.
First, look in the mirror and self-evaluate. See yourself through the eyes of that hiring manager and younger co-workers. Yes, be yourself, leverage your experience and talents but do it in a desired and “up-to-date” way.
Bottom-line: Determine what value you offer and what will it be like to work with you. Then take positive action to sell it.
Also, get involved in the emerging efforts to embrace age difference. You will benefit and you will bring benefits to the effort.
Right for the job? Prove it!
Just before the pandemic to a group of older job seekers on Florida’s Space Coast. Some are still in their careers, some are looking to rejoin the workforce. All are trying to figure out how to get a job in today’s world as well as overcome ageist assumptions.
The area here around the Kennedy Space Center is booming. One of the hottest tech areas in the country with the commercialization of space.
In speaking with someone in the business and job development sector here, I learned that the biggest challenge coming out of tech CEO round table discussions is finding enough qualified people both here and along the Interstate 4 Tech Corridor. Business opportunities are being lost due to a lack of staffing.
Yet, I also discovered and spoke with people who are older and struggling to get a job
I did a talk to these older job seekers entitled Right for the Job? Prove it! Good advice for anyone seeking a job but especially important for older job seekers who have even more to prove.
From the “horse’s mouth”
David Steward recently posted an article on WeAreAgeist.com entitled The Truth about HR Hiring Practices. Experienced HR hiring professionals told him that often older workers don’t get hired because they’re not a good “cultural fit”. They’re out-of-date, out-of-touch, overpriced, a threat to younger bosses and lack self-awareness.
There’s an important point here: It is up to each one of us to put in the effort and self-awareness to counter misconceptions. It’s not always ageism. Sometimes it’s us.
I recommended to these job seekers that instead of waiting for ageism to go away, have people perceive you as an outlier by virtue of how up-to-date, flexible and self-aware you are.
Get the job and if each one of us comes off as an exception to the rule (the stereotype), then together we will hammer away outdated notions.
For anyone looking for a job, success is about PROVING that you are the person for the job by going beyond the resume and making sure you show your VALUE to them. You have to sell you.
DO NOT EXPECT ANYONE DOING THE HIRING WILL FIGURE IT OUT. Do not expect your resume, expereince and skills will get you the job. Those doing the hiring probably have a stack of resumes of similarly qualified people.
In his ProBoomer BOOMcast UCLA Anderson School of Management’s career coach David Cooley, calls it connecting the dots and also discusses how doing your homework on a position and a business is a key to conveying your value and landing that job.
In another ProBoomer BOOMcast John Tarnoff shares how to create a career over 50 and discusses critical techniuqes.
Dr. Gillian Leithman in her ProBoomer BOOMcast: The Boomer Career Challenge (and opportunity) shares great insight on keeping a job, phasing down your job or keys to Boomers finding new jobs.
Last but not least (and something my audience was very interested in) is Personal Branding. This is NOT about being braggadocious or narcissistic. It’s simply letting people know you exist and what you have to offer in truthful, relevant and authentic ways. Learn more from globally renowned Personal Branding expert Dr. Natalia Wiechowski in her BOOMcast: A Boomer Career Must: Personal Branding.
Be a Part of the Solution
Recently I became involved in Marc Michaelson’s startups The AGEility Advantage and Ageless Rebels Moonshots. Our intent is to create an Intergenerational Quotient Assessment (IGQ), corporate training and personal training to bring together all ages to leverage the benefits of experience, talent, perspective and skills for success. Already interest in pouring in from companies that are realizing they need to not only overcome ageism and its disconnect in their operations but also that perhaps they were too hasty to “throw out the Baby Boomer with the bathwater” and that age, experience, legacy knowledge and a host of other assets are necessary and a business imperative.
The New Business Imperative
This emerging sector and practical effort are focused on not moralizing about how wrong ageism is but rather to show the rightness to embrace and be inclusive of what we all have to offer. Age can be a huge success factor if we bring the best of ourselves and prove the assumptions, presumptions and stereotypes to be wrong.
Do away with ageism by positive action and performance.
Therefore, how you overcome ageism is to take control and be the exception to the rule. Be an outlier by being up-to-date, self-aware and embracing the way of things.
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