Turns out a lot. Shame about age and being recognized as someone who happens to be older. If it’s regarding age and searching for a job – shame is especially egregious. What’s interesting is that we shame ourselves. When we admit that maybe age was the reason we did not get that interview or land that job, then we’re admitting that we are a victim. And being a victim is not who we identify with if we are ambitious and want to do interesting and challenging things even - god forbid - in our 50s, 60s and beyond.
It’s time to swap age shame for age pride.
A few months ago, I went on a hike with someone who had been looking for a position in marketing - for two years. She had an amazing background working for big tech companies in the Pacific Northwest. You know what else she had? Beautiful gray hair. Perhaps she’s a terrible interviewer or didn’t prepare well before speaking to a hiring team - but I doubt it. She talked about the shame she felt and the word “embarrassed” came up several times when friends would ask how the job hunt was going. When I asked several people if they’d consider signing up for a career matching platform for people with 20+ years of experience, their response was enthusiastic at first and then lukewarm. They did not want to self select as someone who needed help landing a job because of their age.
When I went through Founder Institute last September, one advisor said after my pitch, “I don’t believe it. It’s not a thing. Ageism at the hiring level is not a problem to solve.” I could feel my face burning but since we were not allowed to respond to an advisor’s comments, I said, “Thank you for your input” while inwardly screaming. Which brings me back to denial and shame. My hunch is that she didn’t see it as a problem because a) She never experienced it and b) She believed it’s all about having a “growth mindset”. Growing, learning, falling down and learning from it are valuable lessons in life and I’m a big fan of Dr. Carol Dweck who covers this topic. But this is different. It’s a societal construct that needs to be dismantled and it’s a damaging one at that. Since longevity and the 100 year life are here to stay, we need to make sure that opportunities exist to earn at any age. In fact, it’s so critical the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals calls for “decent work and economic growth” as their eighth initiative to be achieved by 2030.
We believe it’s time to lose stereotypes about people over 40. We believe the hiring process is flawed and that age bias is all too common. More than anything, we believe there’s an untapped market filled with amazing, talented people who can help companies excel and rise above the economic impact of the pandemic.
That’s why we’re building a pilot program for people with 20+ years of experience. We have 400 spots available and the deadline is May 14, 2021. Please review and share this link with anyone who’s interested in participating in our pilot program. There’s no fee to apply. Join us for positive change and an easier way to be matched with companies that know the value of hiring older job candidates.
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Emily’s vision for illume hire developed as part of her journey from a startup-curious sales and media professional to co-founder and CEO. Her passion is to provide resources to support professionals with 20+ years experience. Emily was part of the founding leadership team of Age Equity Alliance, a non-profit focused on the benefits of an intergenerational team.