Dear Kate & Dale: How disappointed I was to read your words of advice concerning older workers looking for work. Do you really think that it was encouraging to know that it takes only four weeks longer than anyone else to find a job and how important it is that we ask for less pay? I have a 58-year-old girlfriend who was looking for a position, and the prospective employer did not ask for her age (we know they can't do that) but did ask for a copy of her high-school diploma - give me a break. - Martyna
Dale: Well, yes, Martyna, I think it's highly encouraging to know that it takes a few weeks longer for older workers to find jobs. To get some distance on the topic, let's say you are a real estate agent, selling a marvelous older home. After two months, it hasn't sold. Meanwhile, across town, new homes are selling quickly. You might conclude, "Nobody is buying older homes," give up and retire. However, wouldn't it be fabulously useful information to know that you're wrong, that older homes are selling - they just take four weeks longer? Knowing that, all you have to do, besides hang in there, is a price appraisal, to make sure you're being realistic about market value. OK, enough of that analogy. If you want more about the job market for veteran workers, Kate has written an uplifting article you should read.
Kate: Yes, it's a short piece called "The Old Gray Mares: They're Better Than They Used to Be." You can find it at www.fiveoclockclub.com under "Free Articles." I give some brief examples of people reinvigorating their careers, along with some advice that includes this: Exploit your age and experience! I want you to say to a hiring manager, "I hope you want a mature person, someone who's been around the block."
Dale: And for all the other people who wrote to tell us that they've experienced age discrimination, let me finish with this: YES, there are people who discriminate against older workers ... the morons! Do you want to work for one of them? NO. Do you want to waste energy focusing on them? In the words of old King Lear, "That way madness lies." Find people with the sense to appreciate you, and then prove them right by doing innovative work that will make the youngsters weep with envy.