Face it, the world is experiencing the biggest aging workforce population in many decades. And if you are in denial that age discrimination exists, I hate to tell you, it does. Employers are looking carefully at executives that are approaching “too old” - meaning “too expensive.” When considering new hires, some employers are seeking younger talent that they can hire at a lower wage. How does a 50+ executive survive this company mentality?
If you are too young to retire, and know you still have a few good years left in your career, consider some of these tips to help you get through the age gauntlet. This can be an overwhelming process. Start with your vision for your life. Three key points:
1. Where do you want your career to be in 5 years and up? Higher up the corporate ladder or retired in a few years?
2. What family dynamics will you be dealing with in the future? College age children? Aging parents? Travel?
3. What resources do you need in the next 5-10 years? Financial responsibilities for now and the future?
Mini-reinvention – One of the essentials to surviving ageism is to build skills for any economy. Repackage your current skills and develop new ones that are valuable in today’s business expectations.
Gone are the days when a company hires you for life. Companies can’t make that type of guarantee. They are forced to reinvent their own company model or business process every 3-5 years, so they have to look at the big picture, including their corporate talent, and that affects you.
Take baby steps. It’s like the old saying “Don’t try to eat the elephant in one bite, you’ll set yourself up for failure.” Chunk the pieces of what you need to do into small steps.
Plan B – You may have used a “Plan B” many times in business when one approach failed to work, or didn’t deliver the expected results. Create a “Plan B” for your career reinvention to give you more options. Don’t forget, you can think out-of-the-box here, to create alternatives to your career that you may not have thought of before.
Consider different industries or companies that will value the talent and skills you have built throughout your executive career. There are no “safe” industries or companies for that matter, but some diligent research will help you identify products and services that are trending upwards and likely to experience significant growth in the coming years.
Also, think about working on projects outside your industry and skill set. This will help you get comfortable stepping out of what you know, and developing new skills that will add to your value.
No excuses – Instead of making an excuse why it can’t be done, be flexible in your thinking and actions to figure out how to apply your skills to something new.
Step outside your comfort zone to find a solution. Don’t retreat thinking this mountain is too high to scale easily. No one said it would be easy. However, it is highly likely that you can reinvent yourself to use your executive talents to fit a different industry, scope of work, or whatever might be a good fit for your next career move.
Ageism is real; and executives are hit the hardest. The key is to continue to stay engaged and move forward. It is a resolution of how you think of your career today –your employment “life.” Having the essential survival mindset and tools will help you.
Check out CBS This Morning news, for more information on this topic and Pamela Mitchell’s book: The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention: Essential Survival Skills for Any Economy by Pamela Mitchell.