How old are you? To what generation do you belong?
Based on the answers you give to those two questions, you probably are being treated a certain way in the workplace. Because of when you were born, your manager or co-workers may talk to you differently, react to you in specific ways or have preconceived notions about what you like and dislike.
For some, that may be OK. But for the majority? Kathy Lynch says they “hate it.”
Lynch, director of employer engagement at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, says that employers must understand that they have to look beyond an employee’s chronological age and the generational stereotypes that go with it or they can’t begin to really engage employees. If they can’t engage employees, productivity and innovation will suffer — and top talent will go elsewhere.
At the same time, Lynch says individuals also must understand that their age and generation may not truly define who they are, and they can become more “empowered” if they look at their lives in a different way.
For example, while baby boomers may be thought of as nearing retirement, the truth is that many in their 50s these days have begun new careers in new industries and may be more than 20 or more years from retiring — if they retire at all, Lynch says.
Lynch says that’s why her organization believes it makes more sense for individuals and companies to look at age and generations in the workplace in
Life stages Â» “This is where you are in life, such as being married or single, or having children,” she says.
Career status Â» “Are you defined by your relationship with your employer? Do you have a job or do you have your own identity?” she asks.
“We’ve found through our studies and workshops that depending on how people identified their stages, their experience in the workplace is different and what they’re looking for is different,” she says.
For example, Lynch says people who defined themselves as “early career” ranged in age from their late teens to mid-60s. But no matter the age, those in this career stage tended to say they were “less satisfied” with the meaning of their work. On the other hand, those who said they were “late career” ranged in age from their early 20s to their 80s and found “more meaning” in their work when at this stage, she says.
What employers can learn from these answers is that an employee deciding to leave a company may not have anything to do with his age or satisfaction with his work, but rather on where he identifies himself in his career. Lynch explains that a worker in his late 20s saying he is “late career” may be saying that he is ready to move on because he believes the employer has nothing left to offer.
While many experts caution that employers need to be projecting the retirement rates of older workers so that they can plan for future staffing needs, Lynch says it may make more sense to forget about specific ages and generations of workers, and instead focus on the “career plans” of workers. It doesn’t mean that age and generation should be completely dismissed because those things do impact people, Lynch says, but stereotypes can hamper getting the best from employees.
“Just because they’re 60 doesn’t mean they’re thinking about retirement,” she says. “They might be, but they might be thinking of a different job or a flexible work arrangement or staying and doing the exact same thing they are now. There are 50-year-olds looking for growth in their careers, and their employers need to be offering them training and opportunities.”
At the same time, Lynch says it’s not just employers who need to look at these age and engagement issues “through a different lens.”
“Many people in our workshops have these ‘ah ha!’ moments when we help them look at where they are in their career, no matter what their age,” she says. “We ask them to define their age in a more holistic way. It gives them a real sense of empowerment because they learn to ask themselves what’s most important to them right now, at this stage of their lives and career.”
By Anita Bruzzese can be reached c/o Gannett ContentOne, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA, 22107. Courtesy Salt Lake Tribune
Making a career change over 40 isn’t any easier than it is in your 20s or 30s. But it can be an enjoyable and exciting experience. Deciding what you want can take a bit of time and thought, especially if you have been used to doing things to suit other people. Now you have the chance to make career decisions based on your own experience.
If you have no idea what you want, you can start with what you don’t want and write what you would rather be doing instead.
Type of Work
The broad type of work you do can be defined by whether or not you want to work with people, animals, facts and figures or things, or with a combination of two or more of these, which is probably the case for most people.
Once you’ve chosen your preferred combination, you can start to narrow it down. So if you would like to work with people, what age group would you feel most comfortable with and in what capacity would you work with them?
If you would like to work with young children, there are many ways in which you could do so. You could be a child minder for parents who are at work, or you could work with children in hospital, as a nurse, doctor, play therapist or tutor. Or you could become a teacher or work with children in summer camps or after school activities.
If you want to work with things as well, you might be running computer classes for children or teaching them how to make something or fix something or how to play a sport. If you like facts and figures, you could do research into some aspect of childhood, perhaps interviewing children for their views on certain issues.
Look carefully at the different combinations of work you could consider and then do some additional research on the internet. You should be able to find plenty of jobs you have never even thought of.
What type of work schedule do you want? Some people prefer regular hours such as nine to five and others like more flexibility.
You might also want to work at several seasonal jobs, which will give you more variety in what you do.
Or you might like to work part time hours, or one week on, one week off.
Skills and Activities
You should also think carefully about the skills and activities which you want to be the main focus of your job. Most jobs have some aspects you won’t like, but if you are spending the majority of your time doing things you actually enjoy, these will become insignificant. However, if most of your time is spent doing tasks you find boring, you won’t have much fun.
So make a list of the skills you want to use and the activities which you really want to be involved in. Don’t just stick to things you are good at. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you want to do it all day every day.
One Job Or Several?
It is possible that you won’t be able to get everything you want in one job. In this case, you should consider the possibility of having several part-time occupations, such as part-time job, some freelance work and an internet business. This will give you more job satisfaction and you will no longer be dependent on one employer.
Now that there are no longer many jobs for life, some experts believe that portfolio careers are the way to go. Learn more about portfolio careers and how you can set up your own, with our free 20 page report Portfolio Careers
And check out our career change ideas, tips and advice at http://www.coolercareers.com
Despite legislation prohibiting it, age is a common factor in hiring decisions. This is especially true for older workers who must combat a number of negative stereotypes, specifically that they are less energetic, enthusiastic and creative. Recruiting managers have confirmed that companies often will note that they would prefer a younger candidate. What is a mature job seeker to do in the face of this reticence? Last year, the BBC ran an informative article with practical job search suggestions for the middle aged job seekers with seven key tips paraphrased below.
1. Know the stereotype and confront it
Stereotypes exist for workers of all ages. Generally speaking, younger workers are considered:
Physically more able and healthy
Easier to supervise
Lower salary expectations
Willing to use new technology
While mature workers are considered:
Have good practical knowledge
You might think that the best strategy is to extenuate the positive qualities associated with your age group. According to the experts cited in the BBC article, this is the worst possible strategy. Prospective employers will already assume that you offer loyalty, stability, etc. and saying so will just reinforce the negative biases as well. What employers don’t know (unless you tell them) is that you are creative, energetic, comfortable with new technology, etc. These “young” qualities are exactly the types of things you will want to emphasize.
2. Don’t stereotype yourself
Whether you are in or out of work, push to receive training to keep up with important trends. Technology has become a critical element of almost every industry. If there is something you are not comfortable with then get comfortable with it–even if it means asking your kids!
3. Try something new
Don’t feel that you must stay in the same industry you just left. While it’s true that your relationships and experience are most applicable to the same industry, if your industry is contracting you might be forced to look outward. Odds are you have skills that are transferable to other industries and industries that are growing are more apt to hire from outside. (LifeTwo recommends Marci Alboher’s book on multiple careers).
4. Look after yourself
While your focus will be on finding a new job, this is a particularly important time to be looking after yourself. You will want to present an image of being “healthy, motivated and confident” and the best way to do this is to be these. You should be eating well, exercising, and keeping in touch with contacts and friends. Now is the time to be networking even more than when you were employed. (LifeTwo recommends the book “Never Eat Alone” for networking tips).
5. Appearance matters
Appearance really does matter in job interviews. For mature workers you will want to once again confront the stereotype of being an older person. This doesn’t mean dressing to look young, but instead looking up-to-date and modern. The BBC article also emphasizes the importance of not coming off as condescending if interviewed by a younger person and make sure the interviewer walks away with the feeling that you are at ease working with people of all ages.
6. Don’t let the process get to you
Make no mistake about it, looking for a job (regardless of your age) is a grind. Make the best of it and understand that it is numbers game. The more resumes you put in the hands of qualified people and the more interviews you go on, the higher the likelihood you will get a job.
7. Leverage external resources
There are incredible number of resources available on the Internet (including the job/career section on LifeTwo). The BBC article also has links to numerous relevant sites as well.