Your age should never prevent you from finding meaningful work.
It would be hard for anyone to argue against the amazing work ethic and resolve of the average boomer professional. As a generation, their desire to keep working later in life has changed modern perceptions of retirement. Unfortunately, that does not always guarantee they will have an easy time staying in the workforce.
A recent article from addressed within the workplace. But what about those professionals still looking to get their foot in the door at a new job?
The benefits of older workers have been well-documented, but many employers still hesitate to hire these experienced job seekers. Despite years of proven professionalism, there remains several negative perceptions held by employers. These stereotypes, while generalized and unfair, still persist and can prevent boomers from getting the job.
It might seem like a difficult task to change someone’s opinion, especially such a prejudiced opinion, but it can be done. No matter how much experience you have behind you, the hiring process is about selling yourself as the ideal candidate. Fight back against those perceptions that might slow you down and show them why they are wrong.
Here are some of the most common stereotypes against boomer professionals and how you can overcome them.
They’re not tech savvy.
This is one that just won’t go away. With every new generation, the older one seems a little more out-of-the-loop about current technology. And there might be some truth to that. The younger generations today have grown up with versions of the latest tech while boomers have seen technology take incredible leaps forward over their years. It stands to reason they might need a little bit more time to catch up. However, employers seem to think that not having the latest iPhone means boomers are dinosaurs in the industry.
The reality is that technology is a massive and absolutely essential part of the modern work world. Employers are right to seek potential hires that are able to keep up-to-date with the latest industry tech. But to assume boomer job seekers are unable to do this because of their age is where the problem lies. Boomers have shown a keen interest in modern tech and, more importantly, they are willing to learn
To fight back against this stereotype, simply don’t follow that perception of boomers. If you think that technology isn’t necessary for you to do the job well, change that way of thinking. Research the latest tech being used in the industry. Explore the job description and fill in the necessary learning gaps. Coming to a job interview with proficiency in industry tech is a real asset and shows you can learn.
They’re too stuck-in-their ways.
Stubbornness is a trait often attributed to boomers. The perception is that they still look back on the good ol’ days and lament any changes they need to make to their way of doing things. When confronted with a new idea or alternative take, they plant their feet and refuse to move which can grind work to a halt. I’m sure if we all really considered it, we could come up with a few names of people who act like this, but we also know that it isn’t an age-specific trait. You’ll find stubborn coworkers in any profession and at any age.
Collaboration is needed in any workplace. This is how problems are solved, ideas are improved, and professionals become better. Employers want to see that boomers are willing to adjust when necessary. Independent work is important, but be able to show you can thrive in teamwork as well. Be ready to demonstrate the kind of open mind that can take and receive feedback to better their work.
They’re not in it for the long haul.
You’d think the termination of the standard retirement age would clue employers into the fact that boomers aren’t in a hurry to retire. Alas, many employers see boomer applicants as looking to get a few more years of salary and benefits before walking away out the door. These employers see hiring boomers as a waste of time and money.
It’s true, many boomers are seeking a better work-life balance in their current career and that’s something you need to consider when seeking a new position. However, these employers ignore that boomers get far more from their work than cushion for their retirement. Many boomers who seek new career opportunities at this stage do so to stay engaged and for passion of the work.
Help to put the employer’s mind at ease by coming to the interview with an outlook at your future. Tell them where you see yourself in the coming years and where this position fits into your plans. Be honest, be realistic but show your enthusiasm for the job.
They’re too expensive.
Even those employers that hold these prejudices can likely still admit the obvious benefit of hiring a boomer professional – the experience. Employers know when they hire a boomer for a job they are hiring someone who will hit the ground running and someone who possesses the necessary skills and knowledge for the job. They also assume that experience comes at a cost and might opt to spend less on a new hire who needs training.
This can be a difficult position to be put in. When you’re starting out in your career, you might be more willing to negotiate salary as you want to get your foot in the door. But with years of experience behind you, sometimes lowering your price is necessary if unpleasant. That doesn’t mean you should accept less than you’re worth, but you need to look at the job and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it. Be open to negotiating while also showing them what you’re worth.