Some years ago, I wanted to quit freelance in favor of a steady job. I had read that, as a 50-yr old employee –especially as a woman - I should shave time off the 30+ years experience on my resume so that I’d appear younger, at least on paper.
After all, what employer needs 30+ years experience when 20+ should be sufficient.
But then I began thinking of all the professional and personal growth I had accumulated over those10 years and couldn’t do it. I knew I was cheating myself and diminishing valuable parts of me.
How about anyone else? Are you old enough to feel “too old” to hire or too old to keep?
Btw, I wrote about a job interview on my personal blog: “Is ‘Culture Fit’ the New Age Discrimination?”
I’ve always heard about age discrimination in the workplace and now reading about it more and hearing from friends who have faced it in their job search, it’s very disheartening. In the back of my mind I’m always afraid I’ll become culturally irrelevant for my work, which is partly why I’ve pivoted to a slightly different field with less emphasis on keeping up constantly with tech and trends.I think it’s a sad statement on age discrimination overall when such valuable experienced is tossed away in favour of those who are “younger” or seem like they are in the “Peak” of their career. I would argue women in their 40s and beyond have the advantage of experience as well as in general knowing what they want and are confident in their skills. Some of us have already raised our children also so we are ready to renew our career focus.
How unfortunate that you feel, even as (or especially) as a freelancer, that you need to shape your age. I’d think that the more experience you have, the more you have to offer. Are you able to position all your valuable experience as the many ways you are agile and able to tackle challenges with the benefit of experience coupled with knowledge, that someone younger would not?
I have heard of people losing opportunities because of being “overqualified”. Are you finding that? Are there creative ways you can position those extra years of experience in a way that makes you desirable in ways the hiring person wouldn’t have even thought of? You could position yourself as a possible thought leader or person able to comment on an issue, which without your earned knowledge, wouldn’t be possible? I am PR speaking here, but my immediate reaction is how can you turn this into a win? Package yourself into a much more desirable candidate.
That “over-qualified” thing drives me crazy. I haven’t heard it so much personally but I have heard that as an excuse for a lot of people I know. I agree that packaging the experience with the ability to keep growing and learning is important. I think sometimes though managers for certain roles only want younger people because they feel they can “mold and shape” them and they might be less adversarial. Definitely agree on the strategy to position as more of a win than liability but it just sucks that we even have to think like this instead of being valued.
I don’t shave anything. I stopped myself because I knew there was no way I was going to diminish my value in favour of sounding younger or cheaper.
I’ve since been upfront about my age in cover letters, for instance. I even reference old fashion styles like hammer pants as a joke. It’s resulted in great clients with good senses of humour!
That said, age discrimination is real no matter how you package it.
I’m so glad that you didn’t! Humour helps. I am in a lively exchange with an auto journalist who is not taking my pitch, but outright said she appreciates the humour with which I approached her.
I am glad you’re not sacrificing what you’ve achieved to try and fit a mold that isn’t beneficial to anyone.
Thank you! I spent a lot of years accommodating norms. My journey has been insecurity, trying to fit in, becoming outspoken, impatient and really happy, lol!