|The Age Issue
"Still too old!"
[The following note was posted by a true skeptic in response to my advice in the Over 50 and nobody wants me item in this FAQ section. It's valuable
because it gave me the opportunity to address the very real concerns of the most
frustrated "age-bound" folks out there. - The Headhunter]
If you really think age doesn't matter you are obviously under 40. I am 53 and in 5 months
have had one interview. I changed my resume to make me appear 43 and I recieved interview
offers (I turned them down on moral principles). The sad fact is that if you are a
professional manager over 50 your chances of employment in the traditional job market are
ZERO. Your story about Mike was nice but I noticed he got a job with EQUITY. That's
another way to describe a job paying way below average in a startup or troubled company.
The average manager who has been working in a traditional position in industry all his
career can be blinded by EQUITY. Trust me, if the company was worth it they wouldn't be
giving it away. My experience is the owner has nothing to lose by giving away something
worth nothing now and if your performance makes it worth something, they risked nothing to
I'm really sorry to hear you're coming up empty. But I'll wager you one thing, and
my experience proves me right: you are contributing more to the problem than you are doing
to get past it.
As a headhunter, I've interviewed lots of people over 40, over 50 and over 60. (I even
talked to a guy very recently who was convinced he was over the hill at 35). There's a big
difference between the ones who have succumbed to both perceived and real discrimination,
and those who are determined to let their work and abilities speak for them. Bear this
hard fact in mind: when a candidate does or says something to suggest they think their age
is a problem, I believe them and I step right around them. Their attitude will cost my
client more than their age ever would.
Make no mistake: there is age discrimination (and lots of other kinds) out there. But it's
not rampant and I don't think it's as big a problem as most suggest. Most managers are
concerned about getting the job done, not your age.
Now I'm going to prove that your attitude is hurting you. Your comments are very unfair,
and the inaccurate picture you paint will do nothing but foster fear in others who are
concerned about their age.
1. <If you really think age doesn't matter you are obviously under 40.>
I am over 40. Your first premise is wrong. And you go downhill from there.
2. <The sad fact is that if you are a professional manager over 50 your chances of
employment in the traditional job market are ZERO.>
This is unmitigated bunk. You can claim it's more difficult to win the job you want, but
don't go telling me your chances are zero. Your recent experiences may be leading
you to make such an outrageous statement; but your saying it doesn't make it true.
3. <Your story about Mike was nice but I noticed he got a job with EQUITY. That's
another way to describe a job paying way below average in a startup or troubled
Mike's new salary is higher than his old one -- and his old salary was quite healthy. He's
doing better than he ever was. And the "startup or troubled company" you refer
to is Teleport -- a stable, growing success story in telecommunications if ever there was
one. The equity is a perk, not a substitute for salary. Don't be so negative.
4. <Trust me,>
It's very hard to trust you. You have a terrible attitude and I don't want other ATH
readers to buy into it.
5. <if the company was worth it they wouldn't be giving it away.>
They aren't giving it away. The equity is valuable, and Mike earned it in addition to a
good salary. He walked in the door and showed the manager who hired him how he was going
to tackle some serious challenges. As Mike put it, "I suddenly realized how much more
significant my ability was than my age -- and what made the difference was that I proved
the former before the manager could stop to think about the latter." Not his exact
words, but close.
Sure Mike could have encountered discrimination. Maybe the manager was ready to dismiss
him. But by having a very enthusiastic, positive attitude, Mike was able to prevent the
manager from growing a negative attitude.
And I know it's tougher as you get older. But it can be better, too.
Your note is one long proof of your own problem. You work very hard to prove your point.
But almost every point you made is unfounded. Better get your facts straight before you
blindside yourself again -- or make it easy for someone to do it for you.
I don't know you, so this isn't personal. I'm concerned that you're doing yourself a lot
of damage. If you're talented, you've got to let that part of you speak before the other
part does -- or you're sunk. Don't be sunk.
I wish you well. I really do.
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