Step up or step aside

Employment for the over 50s is nearly as much a hot potato as housing for younger Australians. Many baby boomers feel pushed aside and this adds to the invisibility factor I talked about a couple of weeks ago.

It isn’t nice to feel undervalued or unappreciated. Many of us need to work for financial reasons, others need to work for social connection and a sense of self-worth. All those are extremely valid drivers. But for a lot of over 50s it seems increasingly difficult to find good work or any work at all.

Finding good work can be difficult after 50

Why is this?

It seems to me that it is too easy to blame this on the arrogance of youth or their inability to come to terms with managing team members who may have more experience than they have. Sadly (and I know this will be controversial) I think that like many things in life, the issue may rest within ourselves. Are we stepping up and learning new skills? Are we refreshing our attitudes? Do we tolerate that younger manager or mutter behind their back that they are wet behind the ears and know nothing, rather than acknowledging that they have a different and perhaps complementary skill set to ours? Are we just too set in our ways to see that there might be a new and better way to do something? Are we up to date with the technological tools that are now available?

Are your work skills up to date?

Let me give you an example of older folks who I felt needed to step aside. Late last year we attended a business awards presentation night. The businesses there represented a range of activities from cafes to beauty salons, driving schools etc. The business and tourism body running the event was mostly comprised of old men. I use that term advisedly based not on their age (they all had grey hair but then so do I); my judgement of them was based on their attitudes. As each of them stepped up to introduce a new group of shortlisted nominees they almost without exception talked about the importance of store front businesses and that it was so important to fend off those nasty (my word) online businesses. Of course, as the owner of this online business I was appalled. I understand that high street businesses are important to the survival of many regional towns but it was the narrowness of attitude that really bothered me. It struck me so clearly that these men should consider stepping aside and leaving the business and tourism body to some new blood who could embrace the new whilst continuing to nurture existing businesses.

Again, this isn’t an attack on ageing but rather on attitudes. We all need to keep up to date and the proof is definitely in the pudding. I recently read a piece by Scott Pape – The Barefoot Investor – about Apple hiring older workers in Australia. This is a smart decision by Apple who have realised that there is a huge market in older Australians who want to buy and exploit the latest technologies. It goes without saying that the folks being hired have kept up to date and are happy to work in a largely youth focussed culture like Apple. Good for them and I would love to see more of that.

Keep your IT skills up to date

In the same article there was a reference to a job agency which specialises in matching older workers with jobs. What a wonderful concept and well worth a look if you are seeking employment.

Let’s continue to grab as many opportunities we can to live a vibrant life and if that includes paid employment; my wish is for you to find the job of your dreams. But do remember to keep current, whether in your working life or any other aspect of your life, it is critical to your success and happiness.

Are you still working? What do you do to keep yourself up to date? Have you ever worked for a younger boss?

Older and Wiser