Ageism Dapper Man

The Workplace Isn’t Always Fair.

As I write this, the USA is slogging through another Presidential campaign. We have 5 candidates over 70 years old that are campaigning for a very tough job. However, employers throughout the country think that 65 is an upper limit and in a recent study 20% of people over 40 have reported age discrimination.

Ageism is subtle but real. If you are looking for work you’ll hear ageism code phrases like “you are overqualified”, “we’re seeking a recent college graduate”, or “young company seeks energetic professional”.

You would be right to say that there are laws that protect us against age discrimination, but if the company takes clever steps, it can be disguised and you’re out of luck. And to complicate things, even if an organization provides bias training to their employees, it rarely includes ageism.

Take Control Of Your Fate.

Accepting responsibility for putting yourself at risk of ageism is the first step. “I’m too old to learn this tech stuff” “I can’t keep up with the young people” is Bull ___!! It’s up to you and nobody else to not get aged out of a job. Don’t buy into your negative chatter. If you don’t want to be left behind, you have to adapt – it’s your choice.

Here Are Six Suggestions To Reduce Your Risk Of Being A Victim Of Ageism:

  1. Don’t stop learning – here is my previous post on Staying Sharp
  2. Work to stay on top of technology – “Digital Native” is a term used to describe people exposed to technology at a young age. It’s also another code word term used to eliminate older people in job ads. If you didn’t have a laptop in your crib as a kid, you are too old. Leave your ego outside and seek out younger people and ask for help and advice.
  3. Keep your network current especially with the younger generations. Connect with a diverse group of people. Compared to when we started 40-ish years ago, there are far more women and people of different ethnic backgrounds rising to positions of power in all industries. Dive in and interact with them. Be curious. You can only benefit from different points of views. See my earlier post on networking:
  4. Being seen as a tired old grandma or grandpa isn’t a good for you if you want to stick around. This is another situation where you have to take responsibility. If you need to lose weight and get in better shape, make it happen. I know it’s easy to say, but I’ve made it a priority to stay fit and keep my weight down. By the way, don’t dress like you’re the oldest one in the place.
  5. Act as if, act vital, act capable, and act as an equal. Don’t allow yourself to be seen as checking-out, over the hill or inflexible. Our attitudes towards getting older have an impact on our bodies and mind.
  6. Don’t blend in and don’t become invisible. Adapt, remain relevant and have a purpose for being there, it will show. Look for ways to show your value. Don’t shy away from opportunities to push yourself.

Tough Decisions May Be Ahead

With all that being said, tough decisions still may be waiting for you. If you are in a 40 year career, enjoying the benefits of annual pay increases, you may be considered expensive compared to someone with 10 years in the business. Are you prepared to make a tough decision to keep your pay in line with the budget?

Don’t wait, start today. Be proactive in reducing your risks of being a victim of ageism.