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What, Too Old

February 24, 2001
Related Topics: Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Featured Article
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I

’ma Baby Boomer. That means I’m over 40. That means I’m in that wonderfulcategory of belonging to yet another “protected class.” 

   Like it or not, there are quite a few other things that being a Baby Boomermeans. It means working doubly hard to prove that over 40 does not mean senile,unqualified, unattractive, useless, dispensable, untrainable. 

   Probably the best real world example of what being a Baby Boomer or member ofthe over 40 protected class means is the exchange I had with a woman on the buswho is two years my senior. She’s divorced with no children. She’s a formermanager. She lives alone. 

Babyboomer and over 40 do not equal unemployable. They add up to better qualifiedand able to prove it.

   Realistically, she pays attention to the fact that most if not all employers arelooking for slightly over 25 and under 35 year olds to fill their job and careeropenings. Why not? Those are the ones who are more energetic. Their minds arelike dry sponges, ready to soak up new ideas, interpolate and create newopportunities from the knowledge they already have. 

   She recited the downsides to being over 40, the factors that could and wouldplay a part of preventing her from obtaining meaningful employment. 

   As we age, this curious thing happens to our bodies called maturity. That meanswe become fuller. To the potential employer that translates into fat, out ofshape, out of condition and a health risk which then means higher insurancepremiums. So, good grief, we mature ones will take up walking or racketball orsome sort of exercise regimen. 

   Next detractor. Those over 40 are not as attractive as the younger crowd. Okay.So who wants a beauty pageant at the office anyway? Isn’t the more importantissue how well the person can do the job? Besides, we’ve got all of thistolerance stuff going on these days. Beauty should not be a factor. 

   Oh, that’s right. Friend also pointed out that recruiters and hiring managersobject on one of two other grounds, as well. Either you’re over qualified orelse don’t have enough experience. So which is it, Executive Recruiter? We justtalked about maturity and exposure and experience. Do those count for anythingat all? Oops, friend just pointed out that if we’re too qualified, that meansour compensation expectations are going to be too high for the job that’sbeing discussed. 

   But the employer won’t want to pay as much for the over 40 worker. What’sthis? Take a cut in pay? The rent is still the same as anyone else’s. Thebills, no matter how frugal and prudent you are, are going to continue whetheryou’re 21 or 114. A basic income is necessary to maintaining a style of lifethat is not one of deprivations and need. So negotiate for the salary andresearch what the going rate is in that industry, and ask for it. 

   Older workers are not as bright. Excuse me! I’m more than above average inintelligence. I’m forward-thinking, creative, and resourceful. Not only that,I have the background experience in a lot of areas to help me know what outcometo expect if one step or another is taken. I know some things about business andthe business world that my juniors simply haven’t had a chance to learn. Darnit! I’m just as bright and bright enough to do a bang up good job. Don’tpull that “not as bright” routine on me. 

   Those over 40 are starting to get gray hair and have wrinkles. Oh, so we’reback to attractiveness again. Well, the gray hair is attractive and the wrinklessimply say that there’s a lot of good experience sitting in that interviewingchair that should be tapped and there’s a good value there. Additionally,recent articles in SHRM and CNNfn noted that older workers just might be thebest ticket for companies today given the economic landscape and the need forfolks who can not only hold their own but be mini managers as well. 

   Well, I’m not buying into this old stuff. Sorry, no. Especially in light ofthe fact that reading and staying up to date on technology, innovations, anddistance learning are all available both in real world hard copy but extremelyaffordable distance learning, e-matter and the like. Say. Those things mighteven push me further ahead in the race for the good jobs. 

   Baby boomer and over 40 do not equal unemployable. They add up to betterqualified and able to prove it.

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