Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m an experienced, educated manufacturing manager who was downsized at the age of 62 in July of last year. I have been working daily through networking, Web sites and headhunters to find a new position. My wife thinks it is my age; although I don’t want to believe that, she may be correct. I do not want to retire — I am healthy, in good shape and have a lot to offer. What can I do? — Doug
J.T.: Lately we’ve had a lot of people write in about age discrimination. Sure, age could be a factor, but I really think it’s more a reflection of the bad economy.
Dale: Let’s put age discrimination in perspective before we move past it: The average search takes about three months if you’re under 45, and an extra month or two if you’re 45 or older. But this isn’t all discrimination; partly, it’s a matter of pursuing senior-level jobs and higher pay. So, what can you do? Well, use your experience to accelerate the process: You need to use your network — a GIANT advantage of being a veteran worker, by the way — to get more meetings, faster, and thus offset the age effect.
J.T.: Agreed. That said, let me share this: At this stage in your career, employers are expecting you to have a lot of expertise. They also expect you to be able to showcase it in a way that proves you are highly valuable. When you do this, ageism goes away because your skills are so attractive. I met a woman recently who is a great example; she’s 68 and a nurse. The company she works for won’t let her retire. They take such good care of her because she is an incredible worker who is famous within the organization for her patient care.
Dale: Be young in enthusiasm and young in curiosity, and your welcome never grows old.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons).
Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.