The news article here below brought to light some of the frustrations of securing a role in a world where the meme “Ok Boomer” is said with such contempt not just for age, but for all a baby boomer seems to represent these days—inaction on climate change, economic policies that have led to housing affordability issues, staying longer in jobs so younger people are unable to get a foothold, and more.
Ageism, as of course with any prejudice, means people are accused of behaviours they had no part in! But never let the truth get in the way of a good meme, I guess.
In the article, the protagonist was appalled by the often indiscreet, sometimes insulting and soul-destroying experience of working with recruiters. This is something many people find in the job hunt (so, unfortunately, it’s not contained to just the Over 50s). Still, as difficult as it may be, job search consultants/recruiters have become the gatekeepers between you and a job and a relationship that is defined by expectations of two parties often at odds. The recruiter wants to have a nice round peg fit in a nice round hole—this will mean a quick job placement for them and commission being paid. It is also a solid boost to their reputation for being able to find a perfect match. The job seeker, on the other hand, wants the recruiter to take a holistic view. They want the recruiter to understand the decades of knowledge and experience that has made them a mature, communicative, and agile learner who can pick up a new job quickly and without fuss for any number of roles and industries. So it’s a classic mismatch of expectations—the need for the right industry, the right age to fit the existing team dynamic at the company, and a track record of experience in a specific role opposed to a person’s generalised life experience. No wonder difficulties arise.
For most people, the best and straightest line from you to a job interview (and hopefully a new role) is leveraging the power of the people you know. While you may be shuttled back to have an audience with the recruiter assigned to the hire after reminding influential friends and managers of your talents, at least you’ll be fronting up to a person who has been told to interview you. And don’t forget the power of the telephone either. Don’t just click on the submit button on a job advertisement, wait and hope for the best. Be proactive! Use that people knowledge you have acquired over the years to call the contact person on the job, ask about the role and relate it to your own experience. Start to build the contact person’s interest in you as a viable employee, not as an age. One of two things will come out of that conversation. You realise as you chat that the job is not to your liking or experience and you don’t apply. Saves everyone time. Or, both sides realise there is something interesting happening that could be worth following, and you’re asked to attend a proper interview with the employer. This is considered a win!
By the time you are 50+ it is expected by employers and recruiters that you know what you’re good at and that you have a long career in performing a certain type of role. Keep reinforcing that. If you’re out of work, now is not the time to have a change of career. Find employment first in what you’re good at and what you’ve spent a career lifetime achieving. Later, you can look for the dream job or one with fewer hours and greater flexibility; being unemployed and looking for a role you’ve never held, will be a difficult and longer path to navigate.
The more you talk, the more you reach out, the more you use your LinkedIn profile to uncover the people you need to talk to, you won’t be stuck with people looking for a reason to criticise your dress and looks, but instead, will be consider for roles as the experienced professional you are.