Are you over 50 and working for a company that pays you a solid full-time wage, plus benefits? If so, I probably don't know you. Certainly, you're not one of my LinkedIn contacts. Because when I scroll down that list, it turns out that almost every 50-plus person I know is self-employed, a consultant or a "freelance professional." Even the few contacts I have who (still) have great salaried positions confess they are slipping out for phony dental appointments so they can consult with career coaches. Why? Corporate America is decidedly unfriendly to graying workers at every level.
The problem, I'm told over and over, is that once you hit your late 40s it becomes difficult to even get a job interview. It seems many HR departments use software that buries everyone who is "over-qualified," graduated before a certain date, or whose resume does not claim they have five years of experience with a technology that's been around for six months. The annals of American business are chockfull of examples of corporate stupidity. But the shutting out of older workers is dumb even by dumb standards. Over-50 workers are an incredible bargain. The ones I know will work for less than the top dollars they used to make -- in effect, offering their years of work and life experience at a deep discount. As a group, no other workers are so low-drama and dedicated. Please, if you're a boss, delete that algorithm and interview the next over-qualified 50-something candidate who applies. Here are six truths Over-50s wish they could tell you, courtesy of my LinkedIn connections (if you're a 50-plus job seeker, please add to this list):
1. We don't have childcare emergencies. You don't have to worry about our having to "work at home" because the nanny called in sick or Brunhilda is teething or the day care center was condemned for asbestos contamination.
2. We aren't tired or distracted. We didn't suffer a sleepless night because our recent ex's Facebook status just changed to "in a relationship."
3. We are experts in psychology. Having raised a kid or two, we can deftly handle the arrested development displayed in any corporate department. We are unfazed by sulking or tantrumming toddlers of any age. We know how to deal with the backstabbing Mean Girls in sales, the passive-aggressives in accounting, and those narcissistic clients.
4. We aren't about to quit or die on you. Despite what you secretly fear, our brains aren't on the verge of atrophying. Check out the actuarial tables. Life expectancy for healthy people of our generation is now 80-something. We can work for you for many years to come. In fact, we have to. If we retire at 65 our savings aren't going to last as long as we do.
5. We aren't angling for your job. Probably, we've already had it and know what it's like, so no thank you. All we want is to put in a full day doing something that matters--oh, and health insurance, please!
6. We aren't spending our lunch time interviewing at other companies. Who's going to hire us?
Nan Silver is a journalist and New York Times bestselling author specializing in psychology, parenting and health. With Dr. John Gottman she is co-author of the books What Makes Love Last? and The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. Connect with her at nansilver.net and on twitter.