The ability to secure work as an experienced worker doesn’t begin in your 50s and 60s. The relationships you create with your managers, suppliers, co-workers and subordinates decades earlier in your career will help you later. Part I focused on networking with the “right” people and keeping yourself in the game physically. In Part II, my final three components of employability are listed and I’d be interested in yours as a comment on the blog:
#3: Play Well with Others: At a certain point in your career at 50+ many of your company’s senior leadership team and your direct manager may be younger than you. I had a manager twenty-one years younger than me! It is not just a different generation; it is a different mindset and he had a perception of mature workers (it wasn’t good). I’ll repeat what you already know—the dynamic of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1981) and Millennials (1982-2004) in the workforce with a smattering of “The Greatest Generation” ( a term coined by Tom Brokaw) brings a clash of values to the workforce Corporate America is ignoring. While there are stereotypes for each generational cohort, from my Boomer perspective, “the boss is still the boss.” So, I treated “Boy Wonder” (a derogatory name coined by my friends) with the respect I treated previous managers and worked hard to dispel the myths that someone my age couldn’t master new software programs, perform my job duties or working with me was like working with his mother. I endured him and like they often do; he finally went away. (Hear me breathing a sigh of relief)
#4: Leverage Your Experience: In a US News & World Report 2010 blog post advised that if you make money or save money for a company, it protects your job. “It would be silly to let go of somebody who is making you money…” their post continues. Everyone 50+ knows it happens, a lot. A typical example is an employee who was the number one sales representative in a division of a Fortune 50 company whose combination of high base salary and long tenure found her surprisingly laid-off in the company’s first wave of reductions in force. Highly compensated non-management employees are an issue for companies when they have to provide lump sum raise annually instead of the average 3% merit increase in 2014 because their base salary has topped the range or band for their role. Try to protect yourself from sudden unemployment by finding and accepting a new role within the company that moves you into a different salary grade or broadband, if you currently receive lump sum annual increases. You might also try to expand your duties to move into a position so your salary is not in the upper deciles.
#5: Maintain a Professional Image: Humans are primarily visual beings with some researchers claiming 90% of the transmitted information in the human brain is visual. There are hundreds of studies of about physical attractiveness bias in business. While most 40+ and 50+ workers would look ridiculous dressed like a college student, men and women should keep the clothing they wear to work, their hair and anything about their visual appearance updated. Department stores often have free personal shoppers to help you create your perfect look for an important interview or meeting. Aim for styling yourself so you feel confident.
Use these five tips along with whatever skills and attitudes are unique to your workplace to be successful where you work today and able to get a new job if needed in the future.