12/05/2012 11:28 am ET Updated Feb 04, 2013

Age Is Mind Over Matter

I had a friend about five years ago who was terminated as the manager of an IT team and was disconsolate about being able to find another job at age 51. My advice was that he needed to turn his thinking around, that he had years of experience in IT and team management to provide a company, that he should not walk into an interview with his hat in his hand but rather confident about what he could contribute to a company in an important area. I saw him again about two months later, and he had a big smile on his face. He had found a new job within six weeks and greatly appreciated my counsel.

What is really important in conducting a job search is to think in terms of the experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and proven performance (we call it EESP) that you can provide a company, which puts you way ahead of younger people. And having a positive attitude is always helpful because how you feel about yourself influences how you are viewed by others.

I'll share a family story with readers. Years ago a daughter, aged 16, asked me for advice on connecting with a summer job, and I suggested applying as assistant to one of the school custodians, and she said that was a great idea but that they didn't take girls. I said: "Why not?", and she replied: "I don't know, they just don't," and I said: "Great! You'll be the first one." At that time, we had five youngsters in the school system, all doing well, and my wife was a Village Trustee. So my daughter applied and was accepted. The story reminds me of a book titled: How to Get to Yes, and that's a question older people need to keep asking themselves. The answers frequently include developing a strategy of overcoming roadblocks, real and artificial.

I might add that this story was an excellent metaphor in raising five children. When can you be the first, or maybe just the next?

At age 85, I would like to tell younger folks that age can be an asset. You shouldn't sit on your assets!