Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
I ran across a study conducted last year focused on “Meeting the World’s Midcareer Moment”. As a human resources professional, I found it interesting to read about how individuals in the 45+ age category make up the largest share of long-term unemployed. Not just in the United States, but worldwide. And this isn’t just a pandemic thing, it’s been going on for years.
What fascinated me most about the study was the question about hiring manager concerns. It identified three top concerns that organizations have when considering older workers for a job.
Technology was tops on the list. This shouldn’t be a surprise. There is an ongoing perception that older individuals either cannot or will not embrace new technologies. Individuals hoping to get a job in today’s high tech business world are going to have to think about this. You don’t have to own the latest technologies, but individuals do need to read about new tech and possibly try some of it out when given the opportunity.
Learning was second on the list. There’s an old saying that “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”. Well, organizations want to know that older workers can and want to learn new stuff. And I believe that the second part of that sentence is just as important as the first. It’s one thing to show a company that you can learn new skills for a job, but it’s another thing to show the organization that you’re curious and excited about learning new things.
Relationships was the last item mentioned. Remember that phrase “OK, Boomer.”? It’s a catchphrase used by younger people to dismiss older people and their attitudes/behaviors that are stuck in the past. Well, organizations want to know that older workers can build positive working relationships with their younger coworkers. No one is saying that you must pretend that you’re 20 again – thank goodness! But we do need to be relevant.
Honestly, I must admit none of these concerns (technology, learning, and relationships) were a surprise to me. The survey confirmed what I’ve been hearing anecdotally. It does mean that older workers need to spend some dedicated time thinking about how they want to address these areas when on a job search. Here are a few things to consider:
- Get a mentor or develop a personal board of advisors. Make sure the group is diverse. Maybe include younger people to gain new perspective. Be prepared to listen and take their comments constructively.
- Take a massive open online course (MOOC). These are university courses that are typically free. Coursera and edX are two top providers. One of the most popular ones is called “The Science of Well-Being” from Yale University.
- Find a way to learn a new technology. You can take a course. Start playing some computer games. One of my favorite things to do is take photos and edit them with my smartphone camera. Just carve out some time to use tech more.
Whether your unretirement includes working at an organization, self-employment, or volunteering, you will want to feel like you’re contributing to your job and employer. The way to do that is by having a skill set that’s current and relevant. Just because we’ve done a lot in our career doesn’t mean we’re done adding to our experiences.