I’m hearing about this from a lot of people on both the top and bottom of the demographic scales. Boomers are not up to date enough technology wise and and Gen Y’s don’t have enough experience and have their own rules for working.
According to Ellen Alcorn, Monster Contributing writer, “It’s the fastest-growing category of complaints received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In fiscal year 2008, the EEOC received 24,582 age-discrimination claims.”
“We have a youth culture in this country, where younger is better than older,” says Tom Osborne, senior attorney with the AARP Foundation in Washington, DC. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job or how much experience you’ve acquired over the years. If you’re rounding the corner toward 50, you’d be smart to start looking for signs of age bias.”
Younger is better than older
OK, so this is a radical reality of our times, but there are things you can do to fight it and fight back!
“Perception is reality” right?
If you act and appear old and passe, that’s how you will be treated. If you act and appear current, relevant and fresh no matter what age you are, that’s how you will be treated.
It’s not so much about age. It’s more about attitude, persona, language, and culture and how you stay in tune with and on top of today’s world. When you use the current technology platforms, play in the web playgrounds, and speak the current business language, no one will care how old you are!
There are 4 things you can do to counter age bias. When you cultivate your personal brand and relevance, people will focus more on you and what you bring rather than how old you are.
1) Your Persona or Personal Brand
Boomers: Invest in a style update and makeover with regards to your hair and clothes. Get some professional, current pictures taken that flatter you. Take the 20 plus year dates off your resume and marketing materials. Quit talking about what you did 30 years ago! Create a ‘younger image’ by looking, acting and speaking more current. Bring your essence out in a fresher way.
Gen Y’s: Dress, look and act like you are seriously in training to be successful. Shadow and study some seriously successful (younger) people and watch what they are doing and how they do it. Build your communication skills and a bold persona. Act more grown up and you will be perceived as one that can not only do the job, but can own the job! Join Toastmasters, volunteer to speak, teach a workshop, take an acting class.
2) Your Skills
Make sure you do a serious evaluation of your personal, professional, technological and social skills! Invest in some classes from your local adult education programs, chambers professional organizations, or hire a career coach. Check out local business centers or small business development centers in your county. Get up to date on how people communicate, and where they are gathering – both on and offline.
3) Your Process
People watch and observe how we do things. A friend of mine recently emailed me and said: “I’m watching you do good work. Keep it up”. That really made me feel good. People watch us triumph and handle our challenges. How we operate says a lot about us. How do you operate? Are you in the game or on the sidelines? Find the right blend of online and in-person networking and be consistent.
4) Your Platforms
It’s just NOT acceptable anymore to say “I’m not using any social media platforms and I don’t have time” if you are in business, networking or engaging in job or career searching. You must have a LinkedIn profile and start using your Twitter and Facebook accounts more! The benefits of using the social platforms are far reaching. Ask a friend or your children to sit down and help you. Make the time. It’s an investment. You do realize that people are checking you out by “Googling” you right? If you are not linking yourself to at lease 2 platforms, you are not going to be considered a player. You don’t have to be on everything but you do need to be on at least two.
So, how does your persona, skills, process and platforms impact your image?
They all work together to put you out there, make you available and accessible and give you a much broader reach to make the important connections that just may lead to your next big job, sale, break or lead!
Deborah Shane is an author, entrepreneur, radio host and expert. She is the leader of her business education and professional development company, Train with Shane, hosts a weekly business radio show, and writes for several national business, career and marketing blogs, and websites. Her book Career Transition-make the shift-the 5 steps to successful career reinvention comes out in early 2011. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogtalkradio at Deborah Shane, or visit www.deborahshane.com.