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AGEIST CAREER

ageist editors | february 22, 2018

report from the job front

Two years ago in this newsletter we featured Len Psyk, a career commercial real estate executive with a boundless enthusiasm for new experiences and ventures. After the company he’d worked at for five years was acquired, he found himself out of a job. At 68 he was unemployed with no desire to turn it in. After six months of searching he landed at a new firm in a senior role this January. We asked him to report on his search. This is what he wrote:

Unemployment at any age can be traumatic, especially if the circumstances that created it were unfair and unexpected.  But the trauma increases exponentially for those over 60. Age discrimination is rampant, prolific, and sometimes hardly concealed in spite of regulations prohibiting it. So what is an over-60 person supposed to do when they have no interest in retiring or heading out to pasture, and are blessed with good health but no interest in shuffleboard?

Network. Network. Network! 
It keeps you in the game.  Your network can be a lifeline to opportunities that seldomly-valuable internet job sites offer.  If you rely on websites, you miss the best insights available to you ... those of the people you have spent years building relationships with who sometimes know you better than you know yourself. They recognize the wisdom you bring. They know where your skillset and personality would be a good fit, sometimes better than you do yourself.

Play to your strength.
A good friend who has known my work for many years made an offhand comment that I brought a definite “gravitas” along with the skills and experience I had developed. I had no idea what he meant so I had to look it up. Gravitas identifies a solemn dignity in men and women, but it can come readily to some of us over 60. We subconsciously find it easier to demonstrate the quality organically without knowing it.  In my case, I didn’t know I had gravitas until my friend told me so.  And I kept that in mind as I chased opportunities for my next career adventure and it helped my self-confidence.

Stay on track.
Be always focused and diligent.  Some friends would suggest I take a few months off, play some golf, travel, and then ramp up my search. I was just not comfortable taking time away without knowing what might be next and whether or not I’d miss out on opportunities. I didn’t play golf a single time but I did take an amazing and eye-opening trip with my wife and the family of one of our children to Berlin. What I learned visiting another culture in another country was how precious life is and how easy we forget our good fortune.  And I decided to focus on what was best for me and our family over the next year, instead of getting stymied trying to plan for the next 10 or 15 years of life.

It is interesting how our perspective changes when the road ahead can be sensed, rather than thinking the highway will never end.