Ageism, or outright age discrimination, continues to concern older executives as they consider late-career moves. Here is a recent question posed by an anonymous engineering professional.
QUESTION: My most pressing long term career question is regarding employment opportunities for those who do not accept the fact they must retire after some age, proposed by a local government or else, and the fact they are not anticipated to stay competitive starting from some certain age. I feel like, HR professionals are actively discussing D&I, AI, the post-pandemic word, future workplace, etc, and not an opportunity to leverage this category of individuals. There’s no wide-open discussions on fears, challenges and uncertainties, and how to overcome them in advance. –Head of Engineering
ANSWER: There are two separate issues in this reader’s question: One, the external pressure on aging (e.g., a retirement age rule, prospective employers who assume that older means less competitive); and two, the internal “fears, challenges and uncertainties.” Yes, it would be great if HR or senior leadership supported special initiatives to address late-career concerns, but you can’t wait for any one resource. Instead, when you plan your job search, reserve time and attention for navigating both the external and internal challenges that come late in your career.
Be prepared to counter common concerns about late-career candidates
Before assuming outright ageism, or age discrimination, do an honest self-assessment of your marketing and interviewing technique. Are your skills competitive? For a head of engineering role, this means recent on-the-job experience with the latest technologies. If you’re trying to enter a new industry or fill a skills gap, training courses and/or certifications provide searchable keywords during the resume screen, as well as examples to talk about during a networking meeting or job interview.
Are you committed for the long-term or retiring soon? There is always a ramp-up period to learn the processes, priorities and culture of a new employer. Companies don’t want to invest in people who might soon leave. Yes, this isn’t just a problem with late-career professionals, but it is a concern, so you have to address it. MORE
Photo by Gustavo Fring