Have you used a strategic relationship to combat age discrimination?
We first want to look at what we mean by age discrimination.
Most of you reading this are over fifty years old and probably have had to combat age discrimination.
I have heard it many times where someone has said, “I walked in the door for the interview, the expression on the face of the interviewer said it all. He/She is old!”
They are probably thinking one of the following:
- They will never be able to keep up!
- Their skills are out of date!
- They will not be able to get along in an office filled with younger people!
- They are out of date in this world of Social Media!
Why do they think that way?
I want you to go back to your first memories of your grandparents. Over the years, did they slow down? Did they not understand the younger generation?
Many of our biases are based on our own experiences. Could you see your grandfather working next to you? My guess is probably not.
If the hiring manager is in his thirties and sixty-year-old walks in, his thoughts will be shaped by his life’s experiences.
How do you combat age discrimination? You take the fact that you are older out of the equation. It all comes down to having strategic relationships. This is how you combat age discrimination!
If you walk into the interview, and this is the first time the interviewer forms an opinion of you, well… you are in trouble.
I have previously written about a Targeted Job Search. This is where you target the company and not the position. You develop strategic relationships with the target company with the idea that they call you when a position is available.
I had a discussion recently with a friend, Tom, who is over sixty years old. He had his own business for the last twenty years, but the recession had wiped out his customer base. He was now looking for a job, and it was not going well. He had a few interviews, but everyone told him he was overqualified.
I told him his next job would probably be based on a strategic relationship. His eyes lit up as he had just completed a six-month contract that came through a lifelong contact, a small business owner. The small business owner had hired some twenty-somethings to do a project. He was very unhappy with their work and he called Tom and said are you interested?
That small business owner did not think of Tom as his grandfather. He was not concerned Tom would not be able to keep up. He knew Tom!
When I left the high-tech world the first time and got certified to be a high school math teacher, my strategic relationship was with my chiropractor! My chiropractor knew me well and knew my values. More importantly, she knew a lot of people. Strategic relationships can come from anywhere in your life.
My chiropractor is a weak tie. A weak tie is a relationship that could have been dormant or someone that you have a loose connection with. I saw my chiropractor every few weeks but would I call her a close friend? No. The advantage of weak ties is they know people that you do not know. If you want to learn more about weak ties check out my post — Discover the Power of Weak Ties After 50.
Has Your Network Aged Out?
A common theme with many of us in the 2nd half of life is our network has supported us throughout our careers. Many of our career moves were presented to us by mentors or peers. As we grow older so do our mentor and peers.
What happens when those people retire, leave positions of responsibility or worse die? Our network withers and the strategic relationships that supported us through the years disappear.
If you want to combat age discrimination you need to be ever vigilant on building relationships. More importantly, you will want to build those relationships strategically at your target companies. You can read more about this topic in my post — Search Aged Has Your Network Aged Out and Abandoned You?
Strategic Relationships are Nothing New
Most of us have been building strategic relationships throughout our career. We did not think about it, we just did it. Now that we are in the 2nd half of life, we can no longer let it just happen. We need to be purposeful in building relationships if we want to propel our careers into our 60s and 70s.
Every interview I have had in the last ten years has been acquired through a strategic relationship. When I walked into the room their initial opinions had already been formed. This is nothing new.
Are you ready to be strategic in developing relationships to combat age discrimination?
Let me know what you think with a comment below!Marc Miller
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