Recently I attended a movie screening for my friend, Kathleen Squires’ new film, “James Beard: America’s First Foodie.” The screening was hosted by AARP. The trailer before the film was themed “take another look at AARP.” It showed vibrant, sexy, loving and active seniors. That’s right: Ageism, take a hike!
According to AARP, about two in three workers between the ages of 45-74 have experienced ageism issues in the workforce. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was supposed to address unfairness, but in 2015, over 21,000 complaints were filed with the government. Management often sites stamina and energy, lack of up-to-date technology knowledge, a high salary due to experience and older individuals may be less comfortable reporting to a younger boss.
Older adults bring both along with a level of loyalty and astuteness that I find many younger workers lack. I value both younger and older individuals equally in the workplace.
Here are some tips to become more marketable to employers:
Up your technology game: This is important since young people are adept in technology and poor computer skills slow you and everyone else down. If you want to stay in the game, know how the game works today. Hire a tech savvie person to work with you, or join Meetup group or similar organization that offers computer training.
Rethink your “selling points:” Focus on your skills and what you can bring to the organization rather than length of time you have worked. I have learned firsthand that time is less valuable in this marketplace than talent and skill sets.
Stay fit. Employers are concered older adults may not have the stamina for the job. It’s important to exercise and stay in shape, eat a healthy diet and get that glow on!
Consider the full package: Does your appearance need an update? Consider hiring a stylist to help you rething your wardrobe, a new hair cut or color, or makeup application. Many work environments are more relaxed. You’ll want to fit in while remaining professional in your appearance.
Listen and learn: Do your research before you meet with the company to learn its corporate culture. Is it more relaxed or more structured? What is its mission? Its philanthropic commitment? The more you know going in, the better you can position yourself to fit in.
Be flexible but firm: Many employees express concern that older adults are too expensive after years of earning high salaries. You may need to rethink your compensation and negotiate for a lower salary with higher benefits such as insurance, flex time, more paid vacation.
If you have experienced any of these issues, listen in to show with Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, President of The John A. Hartford Foundation, a foundation dedicated to improving the needs and care of older adults. www.johnahartford.org.