Bias is everywhere, including the presumption that you might be too old to work even when lengthening lifetimes allow you to do more for much longer. Nobody says it is easy for those of us in our 50s, 60s, or beyond, to overcome what others may think.
Age bias is not just a myth but a fact to deal with in this new time of longer life spans. It is our task to learn to deal with common biases and meet the harsh realities of change. Here are some ways:
BIAS 1: Older workers are too expensive. Forget what you once earned. Your contribution is worth what the market pays. Study marketplace pay scales before interviewing. Demonstrate your skills’ return on investment, based on their priorities and your ability to help their bottom line.
BIAS 2: Older workers can’t learn as well as younger workers. (This is the “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” bias.) Don’t get caught with your learning down! Demonstrate what you have learned, particularly skills that will help a prospective employer or client.
BIAS 3: Older workers are inflexible and set in their ways. (Boomers themselves set this myth in stone, and many have reaped what was sown.) Demonstrate how you have adapted to new challenges in work environments. Keep your change examples focused on describing relatively recent workplace efforts and results. Stick with 10 years or less. Nobody cares what you did before then.
BIAS 4: Older workers are “age discrimination lawsuits” waiting to happen. Although it is more likely that people over the age of 50 will win age discrimination lawsuits than people over the age of 40 (legally protected class by the Feds), proving disparate treatment is not an easy task and a painful outcome for all involved. This is the hidden fear no employer discusses. On the contrary, demonstrate your flexibility to manage challenges the employer (or client) faces.
BIAS 5: Once people reach their 60s, they really are too old to work. One in four people in Hawai‘i is 60 today. Chronological age bias is a hangover from the past. Don’t volunteer your age. Period. Take a self-marketing class from a qualified, mid-late career coaching expert who will ensure that you have skills to prove your energetic contribution based on relevant knowledge.
BIAS 6: Older workers cannot adapt to new technologies. What is new in technology today is old tomorrow. Choose to continue to learn throughout your working lifetime. The single biggest challenge in using technology is your own self-confidence. Take classes at a community college or through a senior center. Dive into the tech pool. The water is fine! And highlight your “technological currency” in your tools and during interviews. N
NEW WORKFORCE HAWAI’I