In today’s job market, the affluence of young, educated professionals has significantly lowered the age threshold for what employers regard as ‘older workers’. According to one Wall Street Journal article, in the public relations field in New York, a professional is considered old once he or she has turned 40. This situation is, indeed, ageist and inequitable, but since it ties in with determining factors that stem from the larger picture of the job field, for the time being it seems impossible to change. As such, we’re listing five career advancement tips for older workers, which might help you perform better on the job, even with the perceived ‘handicap’ of age in your resume.
Understand your younger colleagues
One of the biggest issues behind workplace conflicts among generations stems from the different perspectives that older and younger workers, respectively, bring to the table. The general picture seems to be one of lack of understanding and empathy. But if you are really serious about applying our career advancement tips for older workers, you will know that being empathetic is your key to workplace success. Don’t assume you always know where your younger colleagues are coming from, even though you were once their age. The times have changed – and your experience as a 25 year-old professional might have absolutely no bearing on theirs.
–or, in other words, “if you can’t beat them, join them!” According to estimates from the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, people born between 1981 and the first few years of the third millennium will be making up 36 per cent of all employees in the United States. If you want to co-exist peacefully and efficiently on the job, alongside the young ones, you need to try and think like them. This does require some mental and creative efforts, but the long-run pay-off is immense. Start with a simple question: “If I were twenty today, how would I like to be treated on the job?”
Let go of stereotypes
Perhaps the most important of career advancement tips for older workers is to do away with preconceptions. The media has already done a lot to inform your perception of young people. They are lazy, entitled, and on a constant search for instant gratification. They have attention deficits and are not willing to apply themselves. Right? Wrong. You couldn’t be more wrong, if you let such stereotypes affect you. And just by holding on to them, you would be unwittingly letting them influence the way in which you behave toward your younger colleagues. The solution is to simply stop assuming you know anything about them – and actually get the time to know them as individuals.
Try reverse mentorship
Traditionally, mentors are the old, wise, and experienced. Yet recent technologic developments have given rise to an increased need for reverse mentorship. Nowadays, more and more major companies are enlisting the aid of their younger employees, which come in to hold training sessions and seminars in new technologies, with their older counterparts. Think you’ve got nothing to learn from them? Then ask yourself how much you know about social media, mobile devices, and other new technologies. Chances are reverse mentorship will help you hone new important skills, while also providing ample opportunity for socialization with members of the younger generation.
Understand that workplaces change
This is the third millennium, when people are no longer spending all their decades of being active in the workforce in the same office, with the same company, or even within the same career track. This might seem daunting to you, but it’s just the way the world works these days. Similarly, you will find that decentralization and collaborative efforts are becoming increasingly prominent modes of working in an office environment. Gone are the days of the hierarchical ladder and strict protocols. Nowadays, a successful career is much more about being creative and outspoken, collaborating, and coming up with great new ideas.
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