Several months before I decided to leave television news for good in 2006, I was passed over for a promotion by a woman nearly half my age. She became my boss. Although she was physically attractive, she left much to be desired mentally. She constantly sought help from her subordinates who, because they were hot-blooded males, were more than happy to oblige. I, on the other hand, wasn't into information sharing. I figured if she was getting paid double my salary to do what I had already been doing, then she needed to figure out on her own how to do her job.
What happened to me is indicative of what is happening to many of my fellow baby boomer buddies in the workplace today. We are being shoved aside for younger, but not necessarily brighter, employees. It's a disturbing trend that is bound to make matters worse as businesses look for cheaper way to run their operations.
Corporate America must take some of the responsibility for pitting the young against the old. Many companies don't want to pay for experience. They would rather hire someone with the ability to do the job for less money than pay top dollar to a more experienced older employee. Some businesses aren't as interested in quality as they are in the bottom line: PROFIT.
Young people, eager to get a foot in the door, often times will accept less money and learn just enough to move on. What some businesses fail to realize is knowledge and years of experience go a long way in keeping them from making the same mistakes over and over again.
According to a researcher from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, potential employers are more likely to discriminate against older workers. Johanna Lahey sent out 4,000 resumes, of people between the ages of 35 and 62, to firms in Boston, MA and St. Petersburg, FL. Her findings indicated younger workers were 40 percent more likely to be called back for an interview than an older worker, defined as 50 years and older. Furthermore, she cited the top ten reasons why employers said OTHER employers might be reluctant to hire older workers:
1) Shorter career potential
2) Lack of energy
3) Cost of health and life insurance and pensions
4) Less flexible/adaptable
5) Higher salary expectations
6) Health risks/absences
7) Knowledge and skills obsolescence
8) Block career path of younger workers
9) Suspicion about competence
10) Fear of discrimination lawsuit
The truth of the matter is baby boomers are living longer, healthier lives and need to make ends meet just like their younger counterparts. Corporate America must be willing to recognize the pool of talented applicants no matter who old they are.
As a boomer who has returned to the workforce, it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out...AGAIN.
In case you're wondering what ever happened with my younger boss…well, after I left the company, she decided she wanted to be a stay at home mom.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
When I left the news business I was in my late forties. Now that I'm four years shy of 60, I see that so much has changed and I am having to learn how to adapt. I chose not to return to my chosen career of "established media" because, quite frankly, I no longer have the stomach for "breaking news" that starts out with A LOT of half-truths and stations always trying to out do the competition. Furthermore, I was no longer interested in going toe-to-toe with younger, less-talented journalists who always seem to have the advantage because of their "blondeness" and desire to work no matter how little the pay.
I prefer not to say where I'm employed but I will tell you it is a position that is totally out of my comfort zone. As I travel through this leg of my journey I am learning a lot about getting back in the game.
Here are some things for you to consider if you are considering returning to the workforce:
HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE: Know why you are returning to the workforce. To make ends meet is one thing but you should also be thinking about what you would like to accomplish while in your position. Just going through the motions of working from 9 to 5 (or whenever) will ultimately make you unhappy and could lead to your untimely termination.
Once I was hired for the position I'm in, I decided to set a goal and am now striving towards it.
Understand this: THE JOB MARKET HAS CHANGED: Not only are many of the employees half our age, but some of them may end up being our supervisors. That is the situation I am currently in. My managers are just a few years older than my 24-year-old daughter and, honestly, it is hard to appreciate and to see them as my superiors but THEY ARE and if I am going to succeed I am going to have to accept that fact and act accordingly.
LEARN TO BE HUMBLE: I've always been a take charge person so it isn't easy for me to sit back in a subservient role as I am currently having to do. Quite frankly, humility as an employee is something I'm still working on but I do keep my devotional reading with me at all times to remind me of WHOSE I am so I don't get it twisted and end up saying things I will live to regret.
If you have aspirations beyond the job, you will have to learn to swallow your pride, know-how and "I can do it better than you!" attitude sometimes for the greater good.
BE WILLING TO ACCEPT LESS MONEY: The job market today is what I call an "employers' market." They can get away with paying less money for employees because the market is saturated with young, hungry professionals who just want to get a foot in the door so they can begin to navigate their way throughout the company. For many baby boomers, like myself, we have been accustomed to the nice, comfortable salaries that afforded us the opportunities to have beautiful homes, a sizable bank account and take fabulous vacations. That is no longer the case. You must be willing to accept the going rate but I would caution you to NEVER accept minimum wage because it devalues your skills and abilities---especially if you have 20 to 30 years of talent and skills to bring to the table.
HAVE A CLEAR EXIT PLAN: Going back to work is serious business for those of us who are more mature than the average employee. Know why you are returning and have a plan for an exit. Working indefinitely without a plan or purpose only leads to frustration.
In my next post, I'l talk about what it's like to work for younger bosses and how you can use the experience to your advantage.