Maximizing your value proposition
By Fran Lyon-Dugin
Project manager, change agent, organizational management and leadership, ethics in leadership, merger management
When Kim Kardashian declared in 2017 that selfies were over, I was so relieved. It’s just not something I have ever been very comfortable doing. That’s probably partly because I’m one of those “over 50s” who has just a little reservation about feeling like I am self-promoting. But for those in job transition, especially those over the age of 50, promoting your vast array of skills and your value in the marketplace is a must. At the same time, filling in skills gaps is also key to competing for today’s jobs.
Although ageism is real, ageism myths continue to prevail in the hiring world, even now in a time of labor shortages. The good news is that current research is catching up and helping to dispel some of the myths about older workers. The Society for Human Resource Management found the following skills typically stronger among workers age 55 and older compared with other workers:
- Professionalism/work ethic
- Writing in English (e.g., grammar, spelling)
- Critical thinking/problem-solving
- Lifelong learning/self-direction
- Reading comprehension (in English)
- English language (spoken)
Workers over age 50 and in job transition can gain an advantage by stressing their competence in these skills to employers through their resumes, work samples, and interview responses. At the same time, mature workers should emphasize how their skills can be leveraged through mentorship and training, transferring these skills to younger workers.
What about areas where we might feel less than proficient? In my own research of female workers over 50 and in transition, co-researchers expressed frustration with adapting to the rate of change in technology. Women were confident in their ability to learn new technologies but were challenged by how often systems changed. Taking technical courses in junior or technical colleges, or online, can help improve proficiency not only in the technologies themselves, but in one’s ability to more quickly learn technological skills. Another suggestion: practice by using everyday technology like phones and tablets and keep them up to date with the latest apps.
Another area of focus for those over 50 might be learning new job seeking skills. Networking and social media are proving to be key in securing new employment and require a comfort with things like a 30-second elevator speech summarizing your experience and promoting your accomplishments, areas that may be uncomfortable for some people. Again, the more these skills are practiced in real settings, the easier they will become. Open networking events sponsored by companies and nonprofits have become prolific, are often free, and allow you to gain access to new groups of people.
As with anything, the more you practice, the more proficiency you will gain, so go Snapchat that selfie and tell us about yourself!