So I am 50 plus how do I get employers to take me seriously?
Jacqueline Ann Mc Kenzie
Independent Human Resources Professional
“One thing that I would suggest is taking a step back and making sure that it’s a real issue and not your own insecurity. If it’s a real issue, again, check to see if there’s anything that you’re doing to make the situation worse. I started contract programming when I was 13. I was in a management position before I was 20 and I’ve always been very conscious of the exact opposite problem that you have. Now that I’m pushing <mumble mumble> I should be feeling the young bucks nipping at my heels, but instead, I still feel like the 17 year-old having to prove myself. The odd part of this is that this is somehow coming through in some subconcious behavior and I generally find myself connecting more with the younger employees than with the people my own age. On the flip side, I had a person younger than I was that was continually complaining that he was being discriminated against because of his “advanced” age. We sat down together and started documenting the issues and then had some open conversations with the team. It turns out that the “young people” felt that he was discriminating against them because of their lack of experience and they responded by treating him as the “old dude”. Once we all got on the same page, it was easy to see where the disconnects were coming from and how some subtle little turns of phrase, ways of responding and just ways of working were contributing to building walls between them. Both sides had a part to play in the problem and it became a really nasty feedback loop. In this case, simply breaking the cycle pretty much corrected the problem. I’m not suggesting that you run out and hop on the latest trends or try to act younger than you are. Just be yourself and look past age. If you expect to not be taken seriously, there’s a very real risk that you’ll create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take the time to document what you’re seeing and how you’re responding. Then try to review it objectively when you aren’t “in the moment”. If, after taking that into account, there is still a problem, involve HR and see if you can get some dialog opened to address the issues. Good luck!”