Your Age is Irrelevant; Good News for Older Workers

  • Remember that it's all about results
  • Understand how your experience can be an advantage
  • Be authentic
  • Work well with others
  • Never stop learning and improving

With the job market on the upswing, many workers who may have given up looking are back in the game. Older workers looking to re-enter the workforce, or just trade up for a better opportunity, may encounter some hiring managers with false beliefs about how age effects the ability to deliver value to an organization. We know you still have it going on, so read on to get some expert advice on how to portray this to potential employers.

First, are older workers undervalued?

“It depends on the industry and the company culture itself,” said Jeff Rowe, CFO and VP of Human Resources at Foundations Wellness Center. “Older workers can be seen as lacking energy, flexibility, and familiarity with technology. This is a stereotype, that like other stereotypes, isn’t true for every person. Younger workers, on the other hand, can be stereotyped as lacking dedication and loyalty (i.e., job hopping), consistency, and a focus on the work at hand. Again, this is not true for every young person – or even all of them.”

Rowe feels that these preconceived notions can can cause employers to miss out on some great hires. 

“It’s simply a form of intellectual laziness and an unwillingness to evaluate candidates as individuals.”

Rowe has advice for older workers looking to make a good impression on their employers or potential employers.

Don’t focus on your age

Your age means nothing. It’s about whether you can do the job and deliver results. Instead of getting stuck in a negative rumination about your age, focus on doing a great job and growing your contribution to the company.

Understand how your experience counts

Your experience can give you an advantage when it ties directly to the position you are in or are aiming for. If you already know how to do the job, the company doesn’t have to train you. Also, your experience can keep you from making expensive mistakes that could be made by those who have to learn their role. “Good track records in performing the actual duties of the position you are trying to fill will always be a huge plus for any hiring manager,” said Rowe.

Be Yourself

Don’t try to be someone you are not. It will come across as inauthentic and not be received well. For example, you don’t have to tag along to the Friday after-work happy hour with your 20-year-old colleagues. By the same token, be sure to be friendly and open to socializing whenever you are approached.

Work well with others 

It’s important to be able to work with others — of all ages, demographics, and backgrounds. You can accomplish this by treating each of your co-workers as individuals, and truly caring about their well-being. What you are aiming for is to be valued for the unique contributions you bring to your employer, and each and every employee brings something to the table. Appreciate the unique contributions of others – and express it sincerely. This will go a long way in building the rapport that is vital to have with your co-workers.

Stay open

Welcome feedback and be open to new ideas and training. “This can be more of a personality thing than an age thing,” explains Rowe. “As a hiring manager, you also encounter younger employees who are resistant to learning new skills or embracing new ways of doing things.” Rowe emphasizes that all workers need to be open to feedback as well as pivoting to focus on new priorities whenever it is required.

Never stop learning 

Continue developing your talents and skills. Stay current on trends and new tools in your industry. Keep learning and improving throughout your lifetime. “It’s not about housing yourself in a company as you count down to retirement; it’s about dynamically evolving as an expert in your field as you contribute to an organization’s well being.”

If it sounds like a lot of work, well, it’s called work for a reason! It will require your sustained flexibility and effort, but, as Rowe stresses, “that is what your employer is paying you for.”

Carol Archebelle

Carol Archebelle is a writer who specializes in the health and business fields.  

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