026 Dealing with Ageism and Feelings of Age Discrimination

Bias does exist in the job market. How it presents itself can be more unknown than obvious.

The bigger question is what to do when you feel discriminated, or victimized by ageism. 

Don’t miss these Topics:

  • Self-Talk and Mindset.
  • How to position your experience.
  • Networking for “Seasoned” workers
  • Addressing feelings of being overqualified.
  • Branding  your wisdom.
  • The Importance of Value, Reputation, and Relationships.

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Today and job seekers radio we’re talking about seasoned workers – those that have lost their way professionally and found themselves feeling…

  • I’m out dated
  • No one will hire me I’m too experienced
  • I’m a Dinosaur
  • I can’t find a job must be my age
  • They didn’t hire me because I’m too old, and it’s discrimination – ageism
  • You’ve been “ageisted”

How do you feel about that Scott? I’ve seen people they still have gas in the tank. They say people are living longer and they are dealing with these feelings.

I will admit even in my current job I’ve said, “I feel like a Dinosaur because I don’t use technology way my younger colleagues do.” I have to resist that even within my own head. The idea that I’m not good enough because I may look at things a little differently.

It’s a really important topic to turn that around. In previous podcast we talked about standing guard at the entrance tour mind, you gave the quote better than I did. The self-talk and how we need to regulate this. Having experience, being a more seasoned professional is an advantage. It may be your competitive advantage.  

It may be true that some people just want to hire the inexperience, so they can mold them pay them less. But it’s been my observation that is less true in the majority of times. They are really looking fit – whether that’s cultural fit – whether that is a skill gap fit – whether it’s a style fit – whatever that is they’re looking fit – not necessarily age.

So, if you are a seasoned professional – well I just tell my story. The job that I have now, is a phenomenal job, I love what I do, I’m so lucky I get to say I love the work that I do and I’m earning a living at doing what I love. So, few people get to say that.

I would not have had this job had I not had the conversation with a hiring manager about the fact that I was overqualified. It was – I was applying for a coordinator position – administrative assistant position – I had already applied for this job, at this company, for a different position that was given to somebody whose skill set was so much better than mine – and I acknowledge that at the time. If I had been given the option to hire me or this young woman, I would have gone with her, because she absolutely has the skills for that position and is phenomenal to work with. I saw the admin assistant position come open, so I contacted the person with whom I had interviewed with the first time. And I asked what are the chances that I would be considered for this job even though I’m overqualified. He responded, because I had a good conversation with him, he went ahead responded to me and we talked about it and he asked me “aren’t you concerned about having – about being overqualified.

Logical question, right? Because their fear is Oh well you’re overqualified you’re going to quit this job as soon as you get another one because I was looking for work right. I’ve been laid off from a similar job although with an organization I didn’t really care for as well. So, here is one that I knew culturally it would have been better fit and here I had an opportunity to talk to somebody that was very positive, very empathetic, great conversations that I had in the past, and he asked me how would I feel. Because he wouldn’t want to hire me into a position that I wasn’t happy in right.

And I don’t know what made me think of it, but I asked him off the cuff how can I be over qualified if my qualifications can’t get me an interview.

And he thought about that. And to make a Long story short, I got the interview. Well the good news was they didn’t hire me into that coordinator position. They started a higher position then hired me into it. It’s one that they had been talking about but had not yet budgeted for. They got approval to use their budget in order to bring me on.

So, you stuck your foot in the door is what you did, just slipped it right in there. Yeah, I challenged the thought. How is being over qualified a bad thing? It isn’t it is a value. It should be a value it should be, hey for the amount of money I’m investing in you, I get more. That’s called value. Right. A good value.

And so that’s where the conversation goes. I have skills that will benefit you. Whether or not you are going to pay me exactly what I want is not what I’m focusing on.  Whether or not it’s doing it at the level of leadership that I would like is not what I’m focusing on.

I’m focusing in this conversation with you about how I can bring value to your team and your organization and if I have superior skills, that is going to preempt or divert the conversation towards what I can offer versus what somebody with less experience can.

I’m really struck by your level of candor and ability and willingness to challenge somebody. That means you have a really strong mindset. That you knew what you wanted. You saw what you wanted, and you went after what you wanted, and you did it in a positive way.

Part of that is knowing the audience. I admit I had already had several conversations this guy who is a phenomenal leader. I work with him now, he is truly one of the best leaders I’ve ever worked for and I told him that (or worked with). I’ve expressed that to him. I had an advantage if you know your audience, leverage that based on the other person’s style. If they are direct be direct. If they are they prefer being indirect and more nuanced. I’m thinking those whose style preference is looking for harmony, presented in a harmonious fashion. Know your audience. Read their style and try to present your ideas.

Don’t avoid going for it. Let them know this is something I want to do. This is why I want to do it this is why I get charged up doing it they are going to take you seriously.

We talked about this episode and I’ll leave that show notes down below. The episode that references mindset, because this is also a mindset deal. If you think you’re too old, you probably are. If you think you’re overqualified you probably are right. So, these are negative self-talks that you need to stand guard at and turn it around and say no I’m a high value right now I have a lot to offer no I am an asset to a company. In fact, the companies I’ve worked for paid me for my experience. I have this career, where somebody paid me to get the experience I have.  Who gets the benefit from that? Your next employer. Exactly

Instead of looking at your level of experience where that age, how long you been in your career or in the industry, whatever it is, remember that is your competitive advantage. And if you present it as one, it will be perceived as one. I would go so far as to say it outright. My experience is my competitive advantage.  I have the experience and adaptability to take what is relevant today and make it relevant for what happens tomorrow. Because I have the benefit of a long-term view.

Somebody half my age cannot have the wisdom that comes that I bring to it, because they don’t have the long-term view that I have. Much more strategic. So as somebody who is experiences, seasoned, whatever you want to call it you have wisdom from experience. That can’t be bought at a university. That also can’t be found with people that are younger than you that haven’t had those life experiences.

And also think about this, it doesn’t include people who have been in that company’s workforce for a long period of time. I’m bringing in outside it’s a fresh view of things and maybe I’ll bring a perspective that they hadn’t had before. I know that has true for me in my current role. I had a number of colleagues say, you know that is really inventive, no one has brought that point of view. Again, it’s another competitive advantage and if you’re working or targeting a company that deals with other people we do there’s a customer right. Now I bring a whole different network if people they don’t know.

This is where we talk about taking your experience. Knowing what you’re good at and having a clear identity of who you are so that you can stick up for yourself.  Right. Because I’ve seen this over and over again these people I look at their resume and Oh my goodness Scott they are exceptionally qualified, very well qualified people. Lots of skill sets. But, They get into a situation where somebody rejects them, and they think it’s because of their age or their over experience when in reality they need to stick up for themselves like you did and say: no this is what I bring to the table this is these are now sales skills we talked about that before, is that I have these things I bring to the table. I want to leverage them in this role. I want to interview for this role.

Be bold. Right, and that’s going to be a fine line between bold and pushy. We want you to use your best judgement of that consider the person you’re talking to, and look at how you came to know them, right. I don’t have any problem doing that with a recruiter. sure sure but then you work with recruiters every day, you know that audience that’s the point. When you stick up for yourself for lack of a better phrase that shows a level of confidence that those who don’t have your experience probably won’t have. for those who don’t have experience, but they maybe have fresh out of college and so they have the academic understanding, that’s great. but they will not be able to speak from the same position of confidence because they don’t have that experience. They are looking to gain their experience there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  

If some of our listeners are fresh out of college looking for it, don’t be afraid to tout your academic knowledge. And that you’re interested in gaining experience where you don’t have it. give me a chance is basically what you’re saying. that is a valuable message to send. but for those who have years of experience and are prone to look at themselves as having that liability that they are going to think that I want too much money or they’re going to think that that experience your competitive advantage it will work for you if you stick up for it.

that’s a good point. what I would add to that is you don’t much like um we talked about this earlier where you have gaps in employment. We will leave that episode in the show notes I think that’s 025. we talk about people have been out of work for a long time or had a break. And the idea there is you don’t have to share everything you ever did. the resume is not a catalog. it’s not even a biography. It’s not your life’s memoirs. Its snapshot. It’s a brochure of your strengths related to what you want to do you next. Even though you have all this experience you not under any obligation to share all it. When you get to the application process and they want a full accounting of the last 10 years, by all means be honest with that, don’t lie.  But your resume is really designed to be a marketing piece. It’ show you brand yourself. What are the skills that are relevant to what it is you are doing.

We talk about taking the time to customize your resume for the audience in this case the company that you’re applying to, customize your resume so it’s talking about things the way they need to hear it. Because there looking for something. Their job descriptions are usually wish lists but they’re using language that is important to them. But it doesn’t have to be everything you’ve ever done.

when you are looking at your resume and it’s bleeding over into 3 and 4 pages, 25-30 years’ experience, and you are even starting your resume that way 25-30 years’ experience.  we generally tell people don’t talk more than 10 to 12 years of your experience, because you’re going to trigger those ideas for those who are less informed in the recruiting process. but you do want to do to talk about the things that are relevant job that you’re applying for. Or if you’re just networking have a resume that highlights the things that you know you’re good at and the things that you want to be doing in your future.

Those conversations will lead you in the right directions. What problem do you solve. that’s what you focus on. not how much experience you have. Because you and I know, you and I both know people who have lots of experience not very good sure they’re just not good at what they say they are good at and so they may have mountains of experience but there not good at it. if you can identify the problem that you’re good at solving and could demonstrate or describe the successes you’ve had with that, then you’re adding advantage. right

the other thing to think about here is certainly resumes and applications are important I wouldn’t say they are ALL important. we should overlook the value of networking. and somebody in your circle now even though you’re seasoned and maybe have 25-30 years’ experience. you have built a reputation with that person. I would go back and think, OK who are some of the greatest people I mentored or mentored me.  who are some of the people that I had an opportunity to meet throughout my career that had an impact. I’ve already built a reputation with those people. getting networking started is a whole lot easier if you have more experience right because you probably have met and known and worked with more people.

how can I offer recommendations or help to others out there because the chances are pretty good that will make them more likely to think of you as opportunities for you pop into their heads. I’m thinking about a couple of friends of mine that have received in this is within the last 6 months. 2 of my former colleagues who are now friends contacted me to ask if I would be willing to serve as references for them. in both cases they are current (then future) employer called me to get a reference. but in both cases, they got the job and I can’t say it was because of what I said but I know that what I said helped them. it was influential with the hiring manager that called to ask for that reference.

those are the people that I now turn to as I want to build my network and grow it larger expanding my reach. these are the people that I reach out to. Not because they owe me something but because there’s a really good feeling that goes back and forth. they are far more likely to think of me as these opportunities come up.

Givers-gain! It’s just the law of reciprocity, as long as it’s done with the best of intentions. You know, when we talked about networking sometimes if you really experienced and you have inflated egotistical view of your experience like you’re too good for something. I think the idea here is you want to make sure that you’re not just focusing on the value of your experience just doing the online applications and thinking that’s good enough. if you been in the marketplace a long time and not done any networking, I can see why you’d only want to focus on the applications. Right, but the idea here is we need to get out and meet people.

if you haven’t been networking you been in your job for a while your maybe you’re just unemployed for the first time in many years this hasn’t been your bailiwick to get out network. or maybe you’re really good at networking and then you got the job and you were in it for a while and you let that network go, it’s probably going to serve you better to restart that network. because it’s really about if you have a good reputation, getting that back on the radar. if you don’t have a reputation at all, getting one on the radar with people is going to become important.

it’s not, I mean it’s true that it’s who you know but it’s not just because people are playing political games it really is about I know that this person is going to be good in this job. and having those voices be the ones that get heard elsewhere, is going to drive your networking.

And the More confidence they have in you, the more confident they’ll be able to recommend you to opportunities inside or outside their company. and when those recommendations come to fruition then you get that conversation with the person when they see that your confidence matches the confidence of the people that recommended you. They’re going to believe you. Validation.

So again, if you haven’t done a lot of networking, the idea here is, make the conversations with people that you know about them and their process since you last met them. Because it might be that that network has gone stale or cold and you need to reinvigorate it. so just make the conversation about them and not your need for employment or the fact that your self talk is telling you that you’re not getting hired because your age.

and we’ve talked about it before, but if you are working on something, that may not be a paid position, but you’ve got a project going because we recommend to people if you’re not currently working, be working on something because it gives you something to talk about that your passionate about. of so as you’re doing this you’re talking about these things remember that even though you’re not getting paid. it’s a full-time job. networking full time job even if you are working. it’s important that you’re keeping yourself in touch with the world around you.

if you are getting ready to retire, that’s going to be a different story. Most of us in this situation even though we have years of experience, we aren’t ready necessarily to retire in the short term, so we want to keep our networks going keep them active. keep them up to date. so that anytime you have to bridge a gap, you’re going to be having the most effective conversations.

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