Mid-Life Career Change Needs To Account for Age Discrimination

Mid-life career challenges often are related to age. When I've asked executives and professionals, "What is the biggest challenge to your career?" nearly all provide a response related to age discrimination. These professionals often turn to career counselors and coaches for solutions. Surely, they reason, there must be a way to get around the biases.

Consultants almost always say the same thing. Present yourself as active and engaged. Support an energetic appearance. Some even suggest omitting dates from a resume. Therefore I suggest turning the question from, "How do I get a job after 50?" to "How can I earn a living at any age?"

Here is the reality.

(1) Age discrimination exists. People don't even try to hide it. I've heard managers say, "If you haven't reached this level by age 40 you won't go higher." Not many environments think of over-50 workers as "wise elders."

(2) Expect advice to downsize expectations. A lot of books on aging contain this cheery advice: "You probably don't need a job that requires responsibility. Get a job at Wal-Mart as a greeter." You don't need to buy a book for that.

(3) Being overqualified is a real concern. You may be able to disguise your experience and "dumb down" your resume. After you've been on the job a few weeks, your coworkers will realize something seems off. Soon after, your boss will get uncomfortable. You have to keep biting your tongue to avoid saying too much. You may be asked to do more than your job calls for, with no compensation.

(4) News stories are exaggerated and even deceptive. You'll hear stories like, "Companies may be forced to hire aging workers as the boomers retire." Um, it's these boomers who want to get the jobs! Hello! And if companies really have trouble filling vacancies, they have lots of options, including overseas outsourcing.

(5) Even when you do get a job, your new boss may expect you to feel grateful. When you are not marketable you become vulnerable.

I recommend that you stop forcing the issue. Sure, go ahead and send out resumes. Work your contacts. But make it a priority start something on your own.

A dog walker can earn $60,000 or more in a large city. Not an executive salary but you don't need an executive wardrobe either.

Concierges are becoming more popular as more of us get busier.

Want to go online? Start as a virtual assistant.

"Samantha" was upset with this advice. Her husband was laid off and her hours were reduced so they needed to earn a living. "But our neighbors are well off," Samantha said. "What will they think when we show up to walk their dogs?"

Samantha needn't worry. First, rich people respect entrepreneurial efforts. Unless they inherited wealth, they probably started out doing things you wouldn't dream of. And second, she won't show up on their doorstep saying, "We're here to walk your dogs because we're broke." She will talk about starting a personal services company, getting a business license and maybe becoming an LLC. It's a business and a business owner always can do the work.

Career expert Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., specializes in helping midcareer professionals who want to beat the odds of changing careers and discover irreverent ways to manage a stalled or stultifying career. Download her FREE Report: 5 Career Change Secrets Most Career Coaches Won't Tell You. Immediate access at http://www.MidlifeCareerChoice.com

Published At: Mid-Life Career Change Needs To Account for Age Discrimination

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