Overcoming Age Bias
How has age bias toward women in the workplace affected you? I'm hearing from a lot of women about this. According to Ellen Alcorn, Monster contributing writer, "It's the fastest-growing category of complaints received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In fiscal year 2008, the EEOC received 24,582 age-discrimination claims."
"We have a youth culture in this country, where younger is better than older," says Tom Osborne, senior attorney with the AARP Foundation in Washington, DC. "It doesn't matter how good you are at your job or how much experience you've acquired over the years. If you're rounding the corner toward 50, you'd be smart to start looking for signs of age bias."
OK, so this is a radical reality of our times, but there are many things people can do to manage and impact this. Fight it, and fight back!
"Perception is reality" right? If you act and appear old and passe, that's how you will be treated. If you act and appear current, relevant, and fresh, that's how you will be treated.
It’s not so much about age. It's more about attitude, persona, language, and culture and how you stay in tune with and on top of today’s world.
When you use the platforms, play in the playgrounds, and speak the current language, no one cares how old you are.
There are 4 areas where women can cultivate relevance, where people will focus more on you and what you bring rather than how old you are.
1) Your Persona
Seriously look at your personal and professional image. Invest in a style update and makeover, with regard to your hair, grooming and clothes. Get some professional current pictures taken that flatter you.
- Take the 20 plus year dates off your resume and marketing materials.
- Quit talking about what you did 30 years ago!
- Create a ‘younger image’ by looking, acting and speaking more current.
- Bring your essence out in a fresher way.
- Build your communication skills and a bold persona.
- Join Toastmasters, volunteer to speak, teach a workshop, take an acting class.
2) Your Skills
Make sure you do a serious evaluation of your personal, professional, technology, and social skills! Invest in some classes from your local adult education programs, or chambers and professional organizations.
Check out the Women's Business Center or Small Business Development Centers in your area. Get up to date on how people communicate, where they are gathering on and offline.
3) Your Process
People watch and observe how we do things. In the past 3 years, I have built out my business, social platforms, and my media activities. A friend of mine recently emailed me and said: "I'm watching you do good work. Keep it up". That really made me feel good.
People watch us triumph and handle our challenges. How we operate says a lot about us. How do you operate? Are you in the game or on the sidelines?
4) Your Platforms
It's NOT negotiable anymore to say, "I'm not using any social platform." You must have a LinkedIn profile, and start using your Facebook account more!
The benefits of using the social platforms are far reaching. Ask a friend or your children to sit down and help you. Make the time. It’s an investment.
You do realize that people are checking you out by "Googling" you, right? If you are not linking yourself to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Youtube, you are not going to be considered a player.
You don't have to be on everything but you do need to be on one or two.Bottom Line
So, how do your persona, skills, process and platforms impact your image?
They all work together to put you out there, make you available and accessible and give you a much broader reach to make the important connections that just may lead to your next big job, sale, break or lead.
© Copyright Deborah Shane, 2010. All rights reserved. Used With Permission.
About This Author:
Job Search for Women Expert Deborah Shane is founder and Chief Motivator, Educator and Catalyst at Train With Shane, which delivers business education and professional development through speaking, events and training in the career, sales, social marketing, and motivation fields. Reach Deborah through TrainWithShane.com, her blog deborahshanetoolbox.com on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at Deborah Shane, and at Blogtalkradio.com/trainwithshane.