Happy freaking birthday, geezer: job hunting and ageism
Job hunting is hard, and a lot harder once you hit 50. It’s important to keep your head up and stay focused on your value, but only hiring companies can actually do something about the very real problem of ageism.
Here in Denver job seekers are fortunate to have Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List. Andrew has developed an extremely effective channel helping area employers and professionals find each other, and beyond that the site is rich with valuable insights for both audiences. Every market should have an Andrew Hudson.
This morning he sent around one of his periodic letters to subscribers, and in this one he directly addressed those of us who’ve maybe been losing hope as the search goes on and on (and on, and on) with no results.
It was precisely the right message. But I thought about my own situation and decided to respond. Not because he was wrong – he was absolutely right and if you read his News & Tools section you’ll see just how completely he gets it.
First, here’s the full text of Andrew’s letter. My response follows.
Job seeking is hard.
I know from meeting with hundreds of job seekers how tough it can be.
You wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and see someone who is: too old, too young, too inexperienced, over-qualified, under-skilled, resume sucks, struggling with interviews, can’t get their foot in the door, isn’t hearing back from resume submissions, etc., etc., etc.
This is the person you should be seeing in the mirror:
The person with experiences, strengths, skills, promotions, accomplishments, past bosses who LOVED you, clients and customer who benefited from your hard work, colleagues and teammates who trusted and relied on you, expertise, education, values, ethics…..all the things that make you a premier candidate for that next job you are looking for.
Don’t let the temporary and normal frustrations, anxieties and typical job-seeking rejections define you. Most of the negative reflections you may have are of your own making based on a job seeking blip in time. Your REAL history is a record of important work and accomplishment.
No question that you have to constantly adjust your job seeking strategies and tweak your resumes and cover letters and continue to learn how to be a better job seeker. No question you have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new from time-to-time. Yes, you have to develop strategies to overcome the frustration and disappointment of not getting the job you REALLY wanted ….. but ….. maybe it was just not meant to be. Maybe the job that was meant for you is still waiting just around the corner.
Keep optimistic. Keep moving forward. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to make those cold calls. And most importantly, keep reminding yourself of the strengths and skills, experiences and accomplishments that make you valuable!
Continued good luck in your job search!
Hi Andrew, and happy Friday.
I first want to thank you for all you’ve done for job hunters here. There’s no telling how many professionals and companies are better off for your efforts – you’ve made Denver a better place to be for many, many people.
Second, I want to say thanks for the missive this morning. I take it you’ve been hearing a loss of hope out here on the beach, and your advice is going to be really useful for folks.
But. You knew there was a but.
I’ve spent some time with that person in the mirror you mention. That guy has accomplished a good bit in his career. He’s smart, he makes others better, and he’s posted results that sometimes read like typos. He has a lot to offer a company. A LOT.
The problem is, he turns 58 tomorrow. And he’s been aggressively looking for work for a year and a half. He’s about out of hope.
My résumé is pretty damned tight (after years and years of constant iteration and review by all kinds of experts), and it tells the story of a guy who innovates, drives efficiency, and works well with his teams to accomplish things that move the needle for employers and clients. It masks my age (no deception – just using strategic omission the way recruiters have advised). And it has earned me some interviews (including a few with companies I found on your list).
So I go to the interview. They aren’t all magic, of course – sometimes it’s obvious I’m not quite right for the position – but on several occasions I’ve walked out knowing I jacked the ball into the upper deck. The fit is ideal. I’ve actually been outstanding in similar roles in the past. There was a chemistry with the interviewers. Surely this is it, I say, crossing my fingers and knocking on any wood I can reach.
Face to face, though … I look my age. I’m sure it isn’t always about age, of course – there are a lot of other really talented people in Denver and there are going to be plenty of cases where I’m simply not the best guy for the gig. I get that.
But rejection … 100% of the time…
I have zero doubt my age has cost me opportunities, and there isn’t a credible staffing pro in the world who’d deny that it happens frequently. And as all the birthday wishes I’ll be getting tomorrow will inadvertently remind me, I’m not getting any younger.
I appreciate your words of encouragement today and will absolutely take them to heart as I redouble my efforts.
But if you have any way of encouraging employers to rethink how they hire when they have a really, really qualified older candidate across the table, I’d be eternally grateful.
Thanks for your time.