In a previous blog on transferrable skills, it was brought to my attention that the suggestions I made were more appropriate for those just finishing college and entering the workforce for the first time. That is true. That demographic doesn’t have the skills and experience that will help them land their dream job right away. Often, they have never worked and have only “done school”, so they need some coaching to identify what skills they did acquire while completing their education that can translate into skills that will help them succeed in the world of work.
The suggestion was to look at how those who are 40 or older can identify their skills and translate them to fit to the modern work environment. As I was drafting this blog, I came across a post by Jo Weech who spoke about the experiences of interviewing while 40. Her descriptions are at times funny while other times they are soul-crushing. Her recommendations are for the employer to focus on the opportunities, skills, insights, and maturity that “older” employees can bring to an organization.
This blog is about what you can do to shine. I go back to the categories I used in my previous blog and ask you to do some reflection. Look at areas in your resume and work (both paid and unpaid) experience and see how they can be retooled to fit the contemporary work environment:
- Project management
- Time management
- Organizing events
- Managing a budget
- Domestic and international team leadership
- Mentoring and coaching peers
- Interpersonal skills
- Skilled in working with diverse groups
- Leading small or large groups
- Creating or doing something new
- Being resilient
- Winning awards and grants
- International travel and experience
- Public speaking
- Multi-lingual abilities
- Training others
- Keeping the important people informed about your progress
- Web, email, content creation and social media
Knowledge & Information Skills:
- Learning (taking classes)
- Critical thinking
- Research & analysis
- Managing data & information
- IT applications & programming languages
- Subject matter expertise
You may never have had to look at your resume and your experiences in these terms. Developing different ways to look at your skills, abilities, and experience gives you the insight to decipher job descriptions to better understand what it being asked by the employer. You need to become more adept at reading between the lines and seeing how to market your skills, abilities, and experience to match what is being asked of in the job description. You need to become a translator, someone who understands the job market and knows how to make your skills fit.
Remember, survival of the fittest has nothing to do with strength, and everything to do with the ability to adapt. Those over 40 experience a different kind of Imposter Syndrome. This sort of imposter isn’t one that knows they will be found out as a fake, but one who doesn’t feel like they belong in the current work environment. With that mindset, we give off a feeling of inadequacy…sometimes this feeling is so strong that we don’t even bother to apply for the jobs in the first place.
I’m not saying that your feelings are wrong. They are not…they are a real response to a real situation. What I am saying is that you have control over your future. You must remember the drive and desire to succeed that got you the work experience you have now. You must not get stuck in the thinking that “at my age, I shouldn’t be doing this!” whatever “this” is. The new economy requires all of us to retool and continue learning, growing, and challenging ourselves.
Demographers are saying that the US population will continue to age well into the 21st century. Birth rates are dropping, and people are living longer. Currently employers don’t know what to do to better integrating a multi-generational workforce. That needs to change in order for industry to remain competitive worldwide. You may be just the person to help in that transition. Businesses must do better in abiding by the EEOC guidelines and consider diversifying their hiring practices to ensure that the best candidate for the job is hired. In the meantime, do the work on yourself, both mentally and physically, to make sure you present your best self to the world. Evolution benefits those who adapt.
This blog post is part of a newsletter I publish weekly called The Gigster 'Zine. It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at colegasgroup.com.