Seniors Survive in the Workplace by Knowing What Works for Them

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by Rita Ashley

My friend, Joe (not his real name) is 69 years old. He is advising six startup companies, sits on the board of three. Four companies want him as CEO. He is routinely sought out for advice, teaching, and speaking on entrepreneurship. Why is Joe, so squarely identified as a boomer or senior citizen, so much in vocational demand; why is he so popular?

I have learned that my popularity comes from being me. The fact that I know stuff helps, but my interest in other’s success plays a bigger role. – Joe C.

How is it that some “grey hairs” are fully employed and others are long-unemployed, complaining and angry? What makes the difference?

Surely, geography and area of expertise enter into the equation, but even there, many people over 50 are employed. What can we learn from those who are in demand and gainfully employed?

Here are time-proven, field-tested techniques that keep these seniors happily employed:

1. They have no concept of “under employed.” Whatever went before is past. The new reality is the salary offered or responsibilities required are as much a thing of the past as the value of your home five years ago. They deal with current reality. They don’t hold out for what is no longer available. They are employed and enjoy doing that job well.

2. They keep their network active. They use social media, face-to-face networking, and events to strengthen and create new relationships. Those relationships are not about jobs or employment; they are three-dimensional and about interests, shared experiences, and information.

3. They live their lives on their own time and don’t expect their jobs to provide their identity or satisfactions. It is a job and nothing more.

4. They help others. They are mentors, advisors and supporters of others. They do not talk down to or feel intimidated by those who are in more senior positions and perhaps younger. They value their position within the community.

5. They don’t complain or whine about their career or that their boss is younger than they are. They bring to the table what is needed and only that. They do not lead with nor do they brag about all the experience and expertise they have. They depend on and relate what is relevant today, not what was.

6. They never see themselves as overqualified. They know only their recent experience and expertise are relevant to landing a job. (Doing the job well may rely on those skills and experiences, but it isn’t relevant for landing the job.) They never stress the opportunities for promotion and career advancement instead of their desire to do the job for which they are applying.

7. Employed seniors address the fact that employers look for very specific skill sets and that skill set only. When they interview, they convey experience using the job description to tailor remarks and stories. They conclude with outcomes specific to the employer needs and ask for the job in terms of outcomes they can provide. They understand when they are turned down, it is not because of age.

Final Thoughts on Senior Worker Success Strategies

Those over 50 know the employer knew their approximate age when they were invited to interview. If they didn’t get the offer, they simply did not make the sale. They know to improve their chances next time, they must review all aspects of their interview to discover how they can make a more compelling interview.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

Executive Career Coach Rita Ashley Rita Ashley is a career and job-search coach for technology executives whose clients get the promotions they are after and the jobs they want when they take her advice. Before becoming a coach, she had a Silicon Valley career in technology companies such as HP, Xerox, Apollo, Gould and several early stage companies. She was an executive recruiter during Seattle’s emergence as a high-tech town. She has been invited as facilitator, trainer, and mentor on topics such as building morale, creating mission statements, and developing job descriptions that work. Author of three business books on job search, networking, and using LinkedIn, Rita holds degrees or certificates in education, psychology, counseling, technology and social work. Find Rita at NNE and

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