There is the age old question about age discrimination. Am I not getting the job because I’m too old?
It seems to me that your entire life you are either too old or too young. Think about that statement before you scoff. In your twenties, you are deemed as a ‘kid’ and ‘know nothing’. This is a time in your career that you are building knowledge, including soft skills such as showing up to work on time, building resistance to difficult problems, improving your work quality and output. It’s a time of collecting the building blocks that will serve you throughout your career.
By 30, you are taken more seriously and as an ‘adult’. Student loans pile up, expecting you to use what you learned in college and apply that to your career. You wake up in the morning under the illusion, thinking that you actually have a career, instead of a job. Regardless of the dream state, you start to see inadequacies in the workplace and learn there is such a thing as “workplace politics” and you can actually get yourself fired for saying the wrong thing at the Monday morning staff meeting.
By 40, you know what you know. You are hired into management positions and have the energy to take on more tasks and responsibilities. For some, the ego is in high gear as you conquer the world, slaying dragons in the office and fighting the good fight. Other 40 somethings return to school for advanced degrees, craving letters after their name to give them credibility. The constant battle is raising a family and figuring out this thing we called work, which we now know isn’t easy. Between the working relationships we have and are trying to build; coupled with workload. Days are long, and there isn’t much left over for our personal lives.
By 50, and especially if we are laid off or in desperate need to look for another job, we doubt who we are. The external packaging becomes a sincere concern as bellies grow soft and grey hair creeps in. The question eventually gets said out loud, “Am I not looked at because I am too old?”
Smart doctors capitalize on this fear, with good solutions with plastic surgery, facial fillers and botox. According to Skintastic in Plano, men are often seen in waiting rooms. Along with the typical facial fillers commonly offered in dermatology, Skintastic offers something unique that everyone wants. The fountain of youth can be bought by a natural hormone replacement package, administered right in the office. This simple procedure claims to allow patients to lose weight, have clearer thinking and restore their youthful packaging from the inside out. Business is good due to the economic fears and joblessness. The staff confidently told me that if they sell the hormone replacement package to the wife, the husband will follow suit. Proof is the Boomer generation will dig into their wallets for the opportunity to recapture the feelings they had at Woodstock. And if a few minor injections help them land the next job and remain competitive, then so be it.
Over the years, clients have whispered that question to me with fear in their eyes, scared they are washed up, have no value and no workplace will want them. It always makes me pause and look at the American culture as a whole and what we really value at the end of the day. While the Asians and the Indians value education and work ethic, we value packaging. Think of the nerdy kid you picked on in school that wasn’t invited to the high school dance, but instead stayed home with their nose in a book. You laughed at him. Now he owns Microsoft, Apple and Google.
My response to the age old question about age discrimination is simply this: it’s stinkin’ thinkin’. And I’ll tell you hard facts as to why.
At 52, you are not competing for the 32 year old’s job. Jobs are based on budget and salary. Your skill set commands a wage. For example, a mid level accounting job with the title of accounting manager will pay 60-70k. At 52, this position is in your rear view mirror, and if it’s not, there is something wrong. At your age, you would be looking at Controller and CFO positions, topping at 6 figures in various types of industries. By this time in your career, you could write four pages of your resume, where the mid level candidate cannot. And, yes, you are actually compensated for time in the saddle. Meaning: your grey hair does factor in to the equation. It’s all the years you put up with workplace politics and now know how to let it not interfere with your job. It’s the time you took to really know your craft. It’s seeing lots of scenarios play out over the years, and knowing how to course correct. To believe that you are washed up is nothing but stinkin’ thinkin’ and only you can control that.
I’m not saying botox isn’t a solution. If it feels good and gives you confidence, do it. But never let your grey hair become self sabotage.
And finally my sincere parting words on this subject are: don’t let what you can do stand in the way of what you can do. Get rid of stinkin thinkin. Thinking you are too old is holding onto every false believe you ever had about yourself. Furthermore, holding onto false beliefs will not serve you in finding – or keeping the job!