Do you want to be able to say, “I’m 50 and I’m fabulous.” Maybe you can already. You’re smart. You work hard and get results. You look good. Maybe you are young and it’s just a distant dream. Either way, it might be much harder to do if you’re a woman and working when you are 50.
I recently went to dinner with two friends. These women are talented professionals. One ran an international sales department for a high end leather company. The next time you sit on a private jet (and I hope you get to do that someday) you will be sitting on some of the softest, plushest leather. My friend probably sold it to the company that decorated the plane.
This job had her on the road. She was traveling ever other week for 20 years to make those sales happen. It got old. She looked for another job. That’s when her trouble began.
Then there’s my other friend. She started out in retail and managed a store for AT&T. Her company kept getting sold. She stayed with each company and moved into different jobs. Her final career, before the company was sold, was in Human Resources. She traveled the world managing their human resources in Asia and the United States. Then she was downsized.
They both started looking for work. That’s when they found out that it’s not so fabulous to be 50.
Both of these very talented women found out that getting employed at 50 is a tough nut to crack. Don’t think it’s just them. You may have heard that networking is a great way to find a job. That’s what one of them did exclusively. At one large company where she networked in, she got the interview. After the interview she got the surprise.
Her friend told her something confidential. The friend said, “I can’t tell you this, but I can’t hire you because you’re over 50.” Imagine that. This company was thinking that if you’re younger then they will have more years of your working for them. It’s just not “worth it” to hire someone who is 50. There might not be that much “work” left in them. Did your jaw just drop?
This stupid attitude is more common than you think. I had heard this same finding from another friend who had been looking for work a few years before. I thought it was just her experience as she was a very opinionated woman. I was wrong. This recent dinner conversation showed me just how prevalent this attitude is now. Both of these very talented, 50 year old women ran into it.
Not every company is as dumb as the ones these women have found. One CEO recently told me that he hires twenty-somethings. He said, “If I get three years of employment, then I’m happy.” Do these other large employers think a 50 year old will start wheezing in three years?