If you and your clients want to avoid losing your jobs to ageism, raise your hands at work.
“Raise your hand and ask for new assignments. Pick up some new skills. Sign up for a workplace development program. Push yourself. Once you start taking these proactive steps, you’ll be staying relevant and your younger boss will see your effort firsthand,” says Kerry Hannon, author of the AARP bestseller “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … And Pays the Bills.”
To be a bestseller with your bosses, ditch what has worked well in the past and be a trend spotter.
“Make a decision that every year you will read at least one industry-relevant cutting edge book, attend at least one industry workshop or conference, and at the events, challenge yourself to meet one new person,” says New York career counselor Carlota Zimmerman.
Or in other words, take action and let your management see you as an experienced, intellectually curious professional who has the years, the social skills and the intellectual drive to embrace the next level.
“You may despise Facebook and Instagram, but if your company is using those platforms to promote its mission statement, it probably behooves you to complain less, and learn more, or else,” Zimmerman says
To overcome age stereotypes about older workers, it’s essential to recognize and combat your own about 20 and 30 somethings.
“I’ve had clients who continually berated and bad mouthed the “millennials” in their offices, and online, as entitled or spoiled, and who, when their younger colleagues would ask them questions, treated them as misbehaving children,” she recalls.
To which Hannon adds: “Some millennial managers who come across as sharp or sarcastic might just be acting and talking the way they do with their peers.”
With the means of communicating more varied than ever before, experts say it behooves you to ask a new manager or a potential hiring manager on first contact what is the best way to reach out to them.
“Don’t assume that a text or a phone call or an email will be well received, cautions Dave Arnold, who heads a strategic search firm in Silicon Valley that often places people in their 50s and 60s.
What won’t be well-received by any younger bosses or co-workers, advises recruiter Juli Smith cautions, are blatherings about the good old days.
“No one cares that you had to do this all by hand or on paper and talking about it just draws attention to the fact,” says Smith.
Perhaps the most effective guards against age discrimination is to be a rainmaker and control a block of a revenue.
Entrepreneur Jay Meschke’s poster child is an 83-year-old worker who controlled a big block of clients for him and was as sharp and capable as anyone half his age.
“Employers want people who have high energy levels, are progressive in thought, and are current in their thinking, attitudes and adaptability to changing technologies, delivery methods, and client demands. The secret is to be relevant,” says Meschke, president of CBIZ Talent and Compensation Solutions.
Age discrimination isn’t just a worry for those who have passed the half century mark in their lives.
Experts say it can start for women in their early 30s and men in their mid-40s.
Jobs in professional services companies, including law firms and accounting firms, seem to be the safest from it.
While personal stories on age discrimination abound, data on its prevalence does not.
Because the practice is illegal under civil rights law, employers don’t boast about it openly.
A staffer at the Society of Human Resource Management recoiled when it was suggested ageism is a reality in HR.
But to try to get behind the façade, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco recently sent out fake resumes to see how older workers fared in getting job interviews.
The results: not well.
Resumes from older female workers for administrative jobs elicited offers of interviews from employers at half the rate of resumes from younger applicants.
The resumes of older men seeking sales jobs garnered interviews 30 percent less often than applications from younger men did.