“Ageism” – Face it and work around it!


It’s no secret that the Millennial Generation – or Gen Y – born in the early 80’s through the late 90’s will surpass the Baby Boomer Generation in numbers sooner than later.  The Gen Y’s are deep in our workforce and are now holding significant leadership roles in a variety of industries.

More interesting to me is the Generation X – the middle child sandwiched between the Boomers and the Gen Y’s.  The Gen X group is much smaller in numbers compared to their outer layered cohorts. As the Boomers retire there simply isn’t enough people to fill senior roles, and in an already tight labor market – especially here in the Northeast US – this presents a mini-crisis for companies looking at expansion and sustainability.

What does this mean for the Boomers who are either NOT looking to retire or perhaps finding themselves in search of a second career? It means there are a myriad of opportunities for individuals with strong skillsets and the willingness to adapt.

Recently, a 63-year old doctor joined the Navy. The Navy recognized that they needed his expertise and skills. He responded, “I’m in my prime.” I’m not sure what his wife thought. Check out the article in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper HERE.

Where are the roadblocks to getting hired in your late 50’s and 60’s, and how can you as a job seeker overcome them?  Here’s how I advise my clients:

  1. Mindset shift. If you think you are un-hirable, you are un-hirable. Confidence seals the deal on more interviews than a souped-up resume. You need to strongly believe you can move into a new role, adapt, and make a difference.
  2. Clean up your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Future employers and recruiters like KMR want to see your skillsets – not just titles. What have you done, what awards have you been honored with, what results did you produce in your former work life, and most importantly your personality.  When I present a candidate to a client, I need to know that culturally it is a fit.  Authenticity wins the game – and truly when you are in your 60s why would you want to pretend to be something you aren’t?
  3. If you are considering a role within a new or different industry from your prior experience, you must be able to clearly articulate how your experience and skill sets are transferrable to a new position and industry.
  4. Be open to working with AND for the Millennial Generation and be open to working the way they do. Flexible hours, open floor plans, collaborative teams, etc.  That doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to bring to the table as a mentor – you do!  PS – you can learn a whole hell of a lot from them as well.  Keep an open mind.
  5. 100% know that you will be asked WHY you are job hunting and HOW soon you will be retiring. If you have a 5-year window – be ready to tell them the impact you will have and what you will bring to the table in those five years.  One of those answers is sharing your knowledge and training your ultimate successor.  There is value in your grey matter – use it to your advantage!
  6. Seriously do your research on the company before you show up to the interview – Google the hell out of everyone and everybody and everything. This is appropriate regardless of your age.
  7. Don’t rely on your resume. Network in person, get on the phone, use LinkedIn to foster shared relationships you may have  – it’s all about letting the world know you are ready and available to work and that you are a hot commodity. Passing you up would be a mistake. Networking is most likely the way that you will find and land your next role.
  8. Be flexible on salaries – to a point. You don’t want to undervalue your services but you may not get what you were making in your previous career.  Weigh it out with pros and cons. Perhaps negotiate more PTO, or a work from home option if that’s your thing! Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate – if you are good at what you do there is value in that skill!
  9. Follow up old school style mixed in with the new. Post interview – send a hand-written note, you would be surprised how that will make a difference AND send an email.

Those are my top 9, but seriously #1 is the most important.  Like anything in life, you must really want it, believe you can get it, and manifest the outcome if you want to see a successful outcome.

I’m always open to talking to candidates about maximizing their chances for being hired – drop me an email or give me a call!