We are in a very healthy job market that is witnessing unemployment stats we haven’t seen in 49 years! Mind blowing that this is true when several of my retired friends want to continue contributing to the work force and are having trouble doing so.
A dear friend of mine has been diligently sending her resume out looking for a job that will carry her for the next few years. She is super qualified for every post she responds to and writes one hell of a cover letter!
What’s wrong? One would think in such a robust environment anyone who wanted to work could! Not true. Age discrimination sucks! It’s something we will always have to deal with and it’s not okay! We can make excuses that we have only a limited number of years to give, like an expiration date on a can of soup!
We can argue that our skill set is not as good as a millennial when it comes to Excel, PowerPoint, or some data management system. But the fact is many of us learn quickly, get with the program and know what we need to do to fit in with a younger office culture. How did the world move so quickly, were we not paying attention when trends shifted in our industries?
I, for one, was in the publishing business. Publishing has gone through cataclysmic changes just like many other industries. The migration from print to digital came at such an amazing speed that even though we could see it coming, we could not prepare fast enough to develop the new skills we would need. If only, I had worked in the digital space 15 years earlier, I would never have felt the lack of comprehension I experienced. Jargon was different, metrics, completing proposals. I felt dumb, inadequate, at a loss. For an Alpha female this is not my preferred sense of self!
Age discrimination in the workplace will always be an issue. Whether we are in a strong job market or not, no one wants someone who is well past their prime. While 70 may be the new 60, that truly does not apply in the traditional work environment. For every Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Close, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there are many more faceless women (and men) who would tell you otherwise.
My solution at this stage of the game is to take whatever I want as a “little job”. I have nothing to prove at this point. I’ve succeeded in my field, hit my bogeys, met my objectives, been the #1 sales person. I suggested to a friend of mine that I might take the civil service exam and become a mail person! For a nosy person, this could be my best gig yet! I get to see other people’s mail! Good benefits and pin money for entertainment. I’m not seeking a career, but rather structure, routine, camaraderie with other people.
I’m one of the lucky ones who got to leave on her own terms. If it happens in your 50’s it’s a whole other story.
An article that appeared in AlterNet says it best, see below. It’s a dose of reality that we need to pay attention to because it creeps up fast!
50 Is the New 65: Older Americans Are Getting Booted from Their Jobs and Denied New Opportunities
written by Lynn Stuart Parramore / AlterNet December 24, 2013
Age discrimination could be headed your way, sooner than you think.
Editor’s note: This article is part of Lynn Parramore’s ongoing AlterNet series on job insecurity and part of the New Economic Dialogue Project.
In every corner of America, millions of people are terrified of losing their jobs and falling into financial ruin. Men and women with impressive professional achievements and credentials are being let go, nudged out and pushed aside. They are pounding the pavement and scouring the job sites, but find themselves turned away even for the most basic retail jobs. Not because they aren’t competent. Not because they lack skills. But simply because they have a gray hair or two.
This is not just a story of people in their 60s or 70s. Workers as young as 50 are shocked to find themselves suddenly tossed onto the employment rubbish heap, just when they felt on top of their game. They’re feeling stressed, angry and betrayed by a society that has benefited greatly from their contributions.
As the global population grows older, age discrimination is on the rise. It could be headed for you, much sooner than you think.
“I Got Thrown Away”
Jan, a marketing executive from Southern California, is just 51, and she has already learned the heartbreak and frustration of age-related job insecurity.
She was flying high as the head of marketing for a large financial planning firm when she was laid off in 2009 at the age of 47. The recession had done its damage, and her firm had to let some people go — mostly the youngest and oldest employees. Jan understood why the layoff happened, as sad as it was. Her firm gave her great recommendations and kept her on as a consultant for a year.
But she was not prepared for what happened when she tried to find another job.
First Jan applied for positions similar to her previous employment at banks and other financial institutions. Nothing. Keeping upbeat, she widened the net, applying for all marketing and communications jobs advertised in a 40-mile radius of her home. Still nada. Finally, she started applying for retail jobs and was shocked to find that she could not even land these. Jan got an interview at Barnes & Noble, but the store didn’t call her back, and she wondered if all the young people on the floor had something to do with it. She tried a local bridal shop, thinking that she was the same age as the mothers of the brides and would be a good fit. They didn’t hire her. Even Target turned her down for a job as a store clerk. No reason was given. That’s when she started to panic.
“It’s been difficult on my family,” Jan says. “My husband was a lawyer, but he has become disabled. My daughter felt embarrassed that I couldn’t find a job, and I’ve had to explain to her why she shouldn’t be. I had to explain to her that I was not ashamed, that I was mad. I had done everything I was supposed to do. I had gone to college, then to grad school. I worked very hard and I had a lot of success. Then I got thrown away.”
In researching this article, I heard many stories like Jan’s, from Americans from all walks of life. A commercial fisherman with 30 years experience from Tucson, Arizona has sent out dozens of applications, but gets zero bites. An Ohio IT professional with over 30 years experience was let go after 15 years at his company, and now finds himself working in a bottom-tier customer service position with 20-year-olds.
These are downwardly mobile Americans whose dreams of stability after decades of a job well done and a comfortable retirement are vanishing before their eyes.
Bigotry That Knows No Boundaries
. Be prepared for anything life throws your way. If working is still something you want to do, screw what other people think! It’s about what makes you happy!
. Burger King is always looking for good people! A few lines around your eyes just makes you wiser and you probably get all the fries you can eat!
Enjoy the Ride.
xox Barclay & Joy