Someone once told me that I must always wage war on ignorance. As I see it, I’ve been quietly engaged in a cold war on the ignorance of ageism, at least since I turned 50. I have discovered the fact that professionals my age often confront: that many younger hiring managers and perhaps older ones who are nearing retirement, think that over 50 means slowing down, looking only backward, resisting change, leaving the new to younger minds.
How often have the resumes of perfectly qualified, seasoned and still dynamic professionals been completely ignored just because of age? How often have I, or people just like me, been denied opportunity because of pernicious assumptions that we can’t cut it?
Hard to say, of course. Certain legalities make it unlikely that anyone in a position to make such a decision would ever admit to making it for such discriminatory reasons.
I understand the law and the reality. I understand the assumptions. And I say those who make hiring decisions based on the presumption that a professional of a certain age is necessarily less than one more newly minted, are acting in ignorance, and denying their organizations valuable talent.
So here’s a shot over the bow for all you ageist hiring managers. I’ll make it easy and bullet-point it. Here’s a short list of my accomplishments just since I turned 50.
- Created a podcast
- Created a blog
- Directed a public relations and marketing department for a nonprofit
- Made videos for a nonprofit and two news organizations
- Directed social media for a nonprofit
- Consulted on social media and personal profile presentation for an executive transitioning from one big corporation to another
- Edited a doctoral dissertation
- Designed and delivered corporate communications workshops
- Wrote a book, saw it published, and promoted it through a book tour and speaking engagements
- Edited someone else’s book
- Managed the editorial functions of a weekly newspaper
- Wrote news and feature stories for newspapers, magazines and websites
- Mentored young journalists
- Taught journalism to college students
- Shot photographs for publication
- Appeared numerous times as a guest on radio news programs
- As a volunteer, directed local public and media relations for a large organization
And I’m just getting started. More important, I’ll bet I’m not the only professional in my age group who is nowhere near ready to throw in the towel on a productive, active career, unwilling to go gentle into that good night of obsolescence.
It’s time that people check in with the new reality: there’s a lot of experienced talent out there, possessed by people like me, who are still aggregating skills and still ready, willing and able to contribute meaningfully to any organization smart enough to take advantage of it. Ignoring that actually makes no sense at all.
I’ll close on this note: Open your minds to the possibilities. Free yourselves and your corporate strategies from the shackles of ageist ignorance.
One thought on “Waging war on the ignorance of ageism”
Was just talking with someone about this the other day. Our culture seems pretty obsessed with youth and “the new.” While that is great, and today’s young workforce is vibrant and bring great ideas, there is a place for experience, wisdom, patience and a broader world view at the table.