Archive for the ‘Age Bias’ Category

  • Don’t Be a Linkedin Neo-Luddite!

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    First, let’s consider the word, Luddite. Today it is tossed about in the same way as one might refer to a cyber technology dolt, but it is based on a real, 19th-century social movement in England. From 1811-16, during the Industrial Revolution, a group of textile weavers in the English Midlands deliberately destroyed mechanized looms, which were depriving them of work. The name is reputed to have come from Ned Ludd, one of the first workers to smash a mechanized loom.

    Twenty-first century technology wizards have appropriated the term to classify anyone – not bent on destroying the technology but rather – purposefully refusing to adopt technology tools. Unfortunately, seniors often need extra encouragement to learn and trust today’s technology so they are pushed down the ladder of attractive job candidates.

    All of our skills have value and we need not fear having to throw our seasoned expertise aside for new tools. I think of it like this photograph I snapped in my garden yesterday. I was struck by the tenacity of last year’s blossom, now paper thin, still clinging to the red twig where new bright green leaves have just sprouted. The beauty lies in the fact that the narrow twig supports both the old and the new growth equally.

    Soooo, give the new technology a try. We know that 80% of job offers are derived from networking and, if a tool such as Linkedin can expedite that, I am all for it.

    Linkedin is a professional network – not a dating network, and it provides a way for you to “see” how people are connected to one another. It will help you find that valuable introduction to someone in the organization or field in which you would like to work. You will also learn a little about people’s professional history, so when you obtain that introduction you immediately have a relevant point or two to discuss.

    Linkedin also raises your professional visibility. It gives people an instant way to see who you are, what you have done and where you would like to go. Moreover, if you are 60+ and have a presence on Linkedin, it mitigates the stereotype that you haven’t a clue about how to use today’s technology tools.

    Creating a Linkedin Profile is not technically difficult because you are given templates for each component.  You do not have to know one stitch of computer programming. The challenge is to stay within the number of characters Linkedin allows for your general summary and each job description. But this is a good challenge; the exercise will keep you focused, force you to eliminate any fluff and keep your tone consistent – throughout Linkedin as well as any other media in which you promote your “brand.” As a sample, you can view my Linkedin Profile at: www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethisele

    My Profile is a little robust because I cross reference this blog and my Twitter account on it to optimize my online presence. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of my Profile. This is not to toot my own horn but, rather, because you will see the big blue “Contacting You” box. This is extremely important because it allows you to control access to your information.

    Ready to give it a test run…  There’s a lot of support online and one resource I’d recommend is the blog by Jason Alba, author of the book, I’m On Linkedin – Now What???

  • $160 Billion: The “Contributions” Of Older Adults

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    Today’s seniors annually contribute approximately $160 billion to the US economy in paid work and countless other unpaid activities.

    This nugget was uncovered in a recent article from The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. This month the Center has published two articles of great import regarding both the contributions of the older workers and how to keep them engaged.

    The first is a note from Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director of the Center, who on March 31st , attended the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility convened by President Obama and the First Lady. The focus of this convening was to address how: “The aging of the workforce urges us to create work environments that support the productivity and engagement of workers of all ages and across all career stages.”

    The second article is a fascinating “conversation” with the Sloan Center’s Director of Research, Jacquelyn B. James, PhD. about The “Contributions” of Older Adults. Just one of the topics included is her eye-opening take on the current buzz regarding reverse-generativity.

    And her answer to the question, “In general, do people believe that older adults are still developing and productive later in life?” is a refreshingly honest shot across the bow: “No, not by a long shot!”

    Many interesting insights here, as well as in James’ recent book, The Crown of Life: Dynamics of the Early Postretirement Period.

  • Diamond Dewdrops and Dragonflies: Would You Fare as Well under the Scrutiny of a Macro Lens?

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    Copyright: Miroslaw Swietek

    Glistening in the early morning, dragonflies, flies and beetles take on an unearthly quality as the dew gathers on their sleeping bodies. Captured in extreme close-up, one moth appears to be totally encrusted in diamonds as it rests on a twig. These remarkable photographs, published in the UK’s Daily Mail online were taken by physiotherapist Miroslaw Swietek, an amateur photographer, at around 3am in the forest next to his home.

    Writers espouse that “God is in the details,” but the same is true for job seekers. Appearances do matter, and it’s not just the obvious details such the shine on your shoes, the length of your skirt or when your trousers last saw a decent crease. You must also consider the less obvious and what they reveal.

    If, for example, you are anxious about your age, did you ever think that the employer may be more worried about your obsessing over it: that, if you are overly concerned about what others think of your age, you could become distracted from the job at hand? This scenario (pointed out to me by “Ask the Hunter” guru, Nick Corcodilos) is a lot different than the employer’s seeing your age as a serious drawback. Yes, age bias does exist but you need to stop obsessing, take control and get ahead of the story.

    Try to reframe the years. Repurpose that chronological statistic in age-positive words such as experience and wisdom. Even more important don’t hide your passion. Show that you care, you have a tremendous amount of energy and you are highly motivated to lead a purposeful life.

    Provide specific examples of ways you have applied your experience to business or community challenges. Your research should have uncovered problems the future employer needs resolved. Build your insights into a mini solution-based plan.  Keep it mini; don’t try to blow their socks off with a full-fledged strategic plan. Remember you are trying to engage not overpower, and often the best solutions are organic and collaborative so leave plenty of room for teamwork. Enthusiasm is contagious. Before you know it, your age and experience will be perceived as assets – like the dewdrop diamonds on the wing of Swietek’s dragonfly.

  • Take Back the Name: Stop Negative “Senior” Stereotyping!

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    Remember when we were in high school and achieving “Senior” status was the Holy Grail. It was the same in college. The senior class was highly revered; it was the font of wisdom and experience for the undergrads. No one was more “with it” than a senior. It was a powerful position oft lauded with reckless abandon – in fact, if memory serves, the more reckless abandon the more the senior was lauded.

    It wasn’t until we joined the work force that “Senior” became a pejorative epithet. Not an instant metamorphous, it accrued bit by bit as our seniors’ workplace tenure increased. Each year, each crop of new corporate mogul wannabes, ambitious, cutting-edge entrepreneurs and innovators slowly but surely pushed older employees into the “establishment.”  This was not a good establishment but, rather, one that connoted stodgy, unimaginative, over-the-hill and senior (bold is to emphasize the thud). We need to revamp the definition of senior to include such positives as:  dynamic, creative, energetic and treasure trove of experience and wisdom. In other words – very savvy!

    AARP did not help. Their market focus was so successful that 50 became synonymous with retirement. And their image of retirement was a good thing – like a lifetime achievement award. That was their pitch but the folks actually approaching 50 dreaded the AARP member invitation. It arrived in mailboxes like a death knell. We were crossing the Rubicon from living and working to retiring. On the other hand, the young, eager-beaver workers loved this blueprint because they needed room at the top to move up the ladder. You’d think we’d know better today. But AARP is still thriving; it is one of the most profitable nonprofits in the country, if not the world. And negative senior stereotypes remain rampant.

    We also need to stop saying, “sixty is the new fifty, seventy is the new sixty,” etc. That just pushes the problem down the road, and we all know what happened to Sisyphus. Remember that king in ancient Greek Mythology who was cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity…

    It’s time to redefine seniors and retirement through new role models such as Robert Chambers, who at 60+ founded a nonprofit organization, Bonnie CLAC, in rural New Hampshire and, in less than 10 years, was invited to a White House press conference, where President Obama hailed him as one of the nation’s greatest social innovators.

    There are lots more seniors like Robert. It’s time to take back the name!

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