Have you ever thought that your age was holding you back? Whether you're applying for a job or starting your own business, here are some things to ponder before you begin your job search.
Do you still feel vital? Do you want to share the knowledge you've gained over the years? Then your focus should shift from how old you are to your attitude and qualifications for the work you want to do.
In her book "Encore Careers," Marci Alboher writes, “None of this is about erasing the added years.” Instead, it’s about ensuring that you defy the stereotype of an older worker by being willing to embrace new ways of working.
Politics aside, how do you feel about Hillary Clinton applying for the job of president at age 67? The age question seems to be less of a determinant as to whether she is capable or a good choice for the highest office in the land. We tend to look at her qualifications, experience and motivation. We are not so apt to ask, “Is she in this position for the long haul?" We know that she is signing up for at least four years. In fact, according to a recent Pew survey, an incredible 69 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds think Clinton is either in her 50s or younger.
When Ronald Reagan ran for office, he pushed the age issue aside for good. In a second presidential debate with Walter Mondale, when asked if he was too old to run at age 73, he famously quipped, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
In a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Sloan Foundation, 1,913 human resource professionals were asked what companies look for in older workers. The responses suggest ways to impress a potential employer:
Demonstrate your experience. Three-quarters of employers recognize that older workers tend to have more knowledge and skills than younger employees. Fifty-one percent of companies also commented on the valuable tacit knowledge and 47 percent on institutional knowledge that only experienced employees who have worked at an organization or in a field for many years acquire.
Keep it professional. Seventy-one percent of companies typically perceive older workers as being more mature and professional and 59 percent perceive them as more reliable. Almost three-quarters of human resources professionals also say that older workers tend to have a stronger work ethic.
Highlight your communication skills. Employers are looking for older workers who have proficient grammar, reading comprehension and speaking skills. Other employers, about 28 percent, are looking for critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
Make a commitment to the company. One-half of firms are interested in hiring older workers because they perceive them to be more loyal to the company and they tend to have lower turnover. They are also looking for older workers who would be committed to and engaged with workplace goals.
Indicate your willingness to pass on your skills. The majority of human resources departments responded that they are interested in older workers who are able to serve as mentors to younger workers. Just over half of the employers surveyed have training programs designed to transfer knowledge from older to younger workers, typically through mentoring or job-shadowing programs.
So, it’s up to you. You can focus on the things you can’t control, or you can go out and show the world why, at your age, you would make an excellent candidate.