Over 50 and job hunting?
“I don’t consider someone’s age when I hire. If they have the experience the project needs, if they understand how to implement solutions and if they know how to get along on a team, why should I care? I actually value mature employees because if they fit in, they are a role model for the younger employees. They have made mistakes and know how to recover; not a small thing in the technology business. My company has employees of every age; we employ a few consultants who I believe are over 65 years old. We need them for their incredible connections, their historical view of what has been done before, what worked, what didn’t so we can avoid the same hazards.” Andy A., CEO Medical Device Company.
Ageism exists. No matter what the laws say, no matter how optimistic articles are on senior citizens returning to the workforce because their expertise is valued, ageism is alive and well in the corporate world and especially in the world of technology. It is an unseen, often lied about, mostly masked challenge the middle aged candidate can face. If you are reading this, you have your own version of what it looks like and the feelings it evokes. In a perfect world, you’d like to work in a company like the one featured in the quote above. Unfortunately, they are far and few between.
First, let’s talk about reality. Seattle is a town of the youthful entrepreneur. The technology industry in general is a youth oriented employment market. So what does someone who has 'aged-out' of the system through no fault of their own do?
Some people over fifty will not find the same kind of job they left. Some will be relegated to a lower echelon job in a not-so-great company. And still others will leave their industry or the workforce all together.
Franchises are just waiting for the over 50 and disheartened to invest their life-savings. Others just give up and will take early retirement, unwilling protagonists in their own tragedy.
But many others will triumph, land a terrific job, often better or more senior and continue their career as though there were no boundaries. This series explores what characterizes those candidates and their tactics.
Overqualified: Ageism shows up in many guises, the most common of which is the label, “Overqualified.” In fact, it is such a common label, candidates often take it on as their own. While it may be true, there are ways to overcome the perception. The focus is to find a new job, not to assert superiority. Yet some over fifty candidates, frustrated and demoralized accept the “overqualified” label as a frustrating compliment.
We all want to feel valued. A friend who is 65 and between gigs complained, "I don't handle not working well." He has a wonderful life, but without gainful employment, he feels discarded. His idle time drives him (and his wife) crazy because he needs to feel he is contributing; that he is making a difference. That doesn't change with age.
And for others, the need for income continues beyond that dreaded 50 year old mark. There are a lot of grey haired folks working, why not you?
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