Career Transition: The Age Advantage Part I

Anne Bryant, MA, LPC
Anne has thirty years of experience offering practical skills and support to people experiencing transitions in their careers and personal lives. Openings available for individual and group sessions.

The Age Advantage Part I by Anne Bryant, MA, LPC

IF YOU ARE WONDERING IF YOUR AGE might be a factor in your career change or job search, you are probably right. Both data and anecdotes from my clients confirm that age discrimination exists. You can choose to fight it, or you can put your energy into preparing to meet it head on. How? Focus on how being seasoned brings value to your next employer. Examples: a strong work ethic, sound judgement, demonstrated loyalty and accomplishments, and a broad understanding of work place politics. Bust the aging stereotype by demonstrating good health, a flexible outlook, and mental sharpness. This blog is the first of a two part series for those who want to use age to their advantage.

According to a recent article in the AARP bulletin, “The number of workers age 50 and over is soaring – from 20 percent of the workforce in 1996 to 31 percent today. So is the number of new jobs.”  The biggest challenge is to find those often hidden jobs, especially the ones with benefits.  If you have been with one employer for a long time, you will need more than an updated resume with which to answer employment ads. The entire game has changed. You may not like the new rules of engagement and the changes you will have to make in order to find work. The average job today lasts 3.7 years. You may have to start at a lower salary. Periodically Oregon AARP offers free workshops titled “Finding Work after 50,” which offers further tips for making your way.

START WITH YOURSELF: Perhaps your industry has taken a hit, or your old job has been phased out. What have you always wanted to do? What are the specific skills and personal traits you have that an employer might want? How current are your technology skills that relate to your chosen field? If you are unsure of your focus, you may be trying a shotgun approach to responding to ads, a sure path to discouragement. In order to gain clarity, invest in yourself by meeting with a career professional or taking a community college career development class. Read past entries in “Career Transition: the Inside Job” for specific advice. Review your performance evaluations and letters of recommendation to remind yourself of your worth. Quoting from these can be an effective way of handling interview questions designed to uncover your strengths.

ATTITUDE: Most people don’t like change or risk. Fear of the unknowable future can reduce your view of available alternatives and keep you from pursuing them. It’s normal to go through a whole range of negative feelings. The trick is not to hold on to fear, blame, shame, regret, sadness, or anger, no matter how you lost your job. You may need some support to go from victim mentality to ‘what’s next’? Talking with a trusted friend, a member of the clergy, a therapist, or attending a job search group can help with your attitude. Sometimes your spouse/partner and immediate family can help, but they may be a little too close to your situation to offer unbiased advice.

Be prepared for a long haul and cultivate patience, curiosity and gratitude for little everyday things. Self-care to counteract job search stress, and the pursuit of activities and interests that lift your spirits will put some bounce in your step. No hiring manger is going to make an offer to someone who droops or shows up with a chip on the shoulder.  How do they think and what are they seeking? For some solid advice on interviewing, landing an offer, and success, see Corner Office,, which offers highlights from conversations about leadership and management.

If you are not accustomed to working for a YOUNGER BOSS, how would you deal with that? Consider how you could stretch your tolerance for future teammates who come from very diverse backgrounds and demonstrate different values and behaviors compared with you. For instance, what’s your reaction to coworkers with body art or piercings? Texting during meetings or conversations?

APPEARANCE:  Ask a trusted younger friend or relative if there is anything about your outward presentation that is dating you? Maybe you are thinking, “This is me; why should I change how I look?” Like it or not, the first few seconds of first impressions count. It’s up to you whether you dye your hair, start wearing make-up, or finally lose the comb-over. Notice how mature men and women dress and groom themselves in the types of workplaces where you hope to be. It’s possible to put together an up-to-date look for very little money by frequenting resale shops located in upper middle class areas.  Consider a more contemporary hairstyle. When “you look maahvelous”, you will feel better too.

Stay tuned for Part Two of The Age Advantage, which will cover marketing strategies relevant to age advantaged workers.

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5 Comments on “Career Transition: The Age Advantage Part I”

  1. Gordon Rendall Says:

    Hi, very useful post. I’ve just bumped into it and found it concrete and useful, very straight to the point. With your tips and some tricks I’ve heard during the webinars organized by I’m sure I’ll easily go through career change. Thanks once again!


  2. conifer71 Says:

    Fantastic information Anne – a really important topic and great advice! Susan



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    […] Career Transition: The Age Advantage Part I ( This entry was posted in Change Career. Bookmark the permalink. ← Is a career change necessary? Assessment of your career change answers. → […]

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