Changing jobs or careers can be difficult for anyone and those over 50 years of age often face unique challenges. In today’s guest post, career and small business coach Maureen Daniek discusses why the job search is unique for those over 50 and outlines common employer objections to this age group.
In part two, coming Friday, Daniek will teach us how to turn these challenges and objections into job search strengths.
What makes changing jobs or careers unique for individuals over 50?
In my coaching work with clients, the “over 50” individuals who are wanting to change jobs or careers, or who have been unemployed for a while are often dealing with one or several of the following issues:
- They have been laid off after many years of loyalty to a particular company and feel disheartened, disillusioned, or betrayed, and their self-esteem has been shaken.
- They are burned-out in their current job and are searching for a new job or career that will provide more meaning.
- They are providing for elderly parents and children in college and want to change careers, but fear the drop in income that it may require.
- They have been unemployed for a while and are finding they need to “underplay” their years of experience so they won’t be rejected for being “over qualified.”
- They want to change careers which sometimes means “starting over at the bottom of the pecking order.”
- The process of searching for a job has radically changed since they last applied for a position and they feel confused and lost.
- The rapid change in technology in the working world requires a constant upgrading of skills.
- The experience of “swimming upstream” in a culture that idealizes youth can be discouraging.
- The focus on speed and technology vs wisdom and experience in many of our companies devalues the older worker and the rich contributions they bring.
The experiencing of searching for a job or changing careers is a sometimes emotionally draining and discouraging experience for folks over 50. Because of the above challenges, it is critical to have support during the transition. Support can come through a job seeking group, a church, friends, family, and or a career coach. In addition, keeping a positive outlook, getting the “tools” in your back pocket for the job search, volunteering if you are unemployed, paying attention to your physical health, upgrading your skills, and networking tirelessly are key. Chances are 80% that your next job will come through a personal connection.
Common Objections By Employers to Job Seekers Over 50
Just like older folks have stereotypes of younger people, the reverse is also true. Most of the prejudices will not be stated verbally, but you sense some of them when you apply for jobs. These are some of the common myths:
- “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks”—you are used to doing things a certain way and will have difficulty with new ideas and new ways of relating and working.
- You won’t be able to handle reporting to a younger manager.
- You won’t have the energy to keep up with the pace of the company.
- You won’t keep up with new technology and social media.
- You will be bored because you are “over-qualified.”
- Your age will increase the insurance premiums for the company.
- You will get ill or injured on the job.
- You will coast until retirement and not really be invested in growing the company.
- You won’t accept a pay cut in relation to your last salary.
- You won’t be open to direction and criticism.
- You won’t be a good cultural fit.
Keeping these in mind, you can address them indirectly in a number of ways. How you write your resume and cover letter will give them heads up. Your physical appearance, your presence – showing energy, health, creativity and flexibility, talking about technology and how you have upgraded your skills will make a difference. In addition, sharing how you respond to feedback, and talking about your intergenerational activities can all communicate your vibrant energy, enthusiasm, and positive cultural fit.
Stay tuned: This Friday, July 12, our guest expert returns to teach us how those over 50 can frame their age and experience as an advantage in the job search.
About the Author
Maureen Daniek, MSW, Career and Small Business Coach, Serial Entrepreneur & Author who has been in the trenches. Her background involves experience as a coach, an executive in several start-ups, and a psychotherapist.
Read more from Maureen: “Six Word Lessons for Successful Start-ups“
Plus, connect with her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/maureendaniek/