7 Ways Workers Over 50 Can Stay Competitive

Older worker
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It’s no secret that people over 50 face challenges in the workplace.

In a 2018 survey by AARP of 3,900 adults over age 45, 61% of respondents said they had either seen or experienced age discrimination at work. Most of those surveyed said they believed age discrimination begins when people are in their 50s.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your career on track as you age. Following are strategies older workers can use to stay competitive.

1. Look the part

senior worker
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If you’re over 50, you may be viewed by some managers and co-workers as out of touch with your job, even if that’s not the case.

One way to counter such beliefs is to dress appropriately for your job. Try to choose clothing that reflects the current fashion in the workplace. That may mean dressing casually or wearing more formal attire.

However, be sure you don’t wear clothing that’s not appropriate for your age. For example, wearing frayed blue jeans is popular with many young adults, but if you’re over 50, such clothing could make you look like you’re trying too hard to appear young.

2. Roll with the punches

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It helps to be flexible at work. You can’t always choose your duties.

You may be transferred to a job you don’t particularly like. You can appeal the decision but, once it’s final, embrace the new role and make the most of it. Look for another job if you like, but don’t give up your present job until you’ve found a new position.

Prospective employers tend to value applicants more if they’re currently employed. Besides, you may come to like your new duties and there will be no need to move on.

3. Become a mentor

Mentor
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As an older worker, one of your greatest assets is your experience.

You’ve likely performed many tasks under a variety of circumstances. You have the kind of practical knowledge that can’t be found in a classroom. Don’t be shy about sharing your knowledge when you’re asked.

If you come to be seen as a willing teacher and mentor, you’ll be a valuable asset to your company. What’s more, you may find satisfaction in passing on your knowledge to others.

4. Never stop learning

African American man working on laptop
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Staying up-to-date with training is one way older people can demonstrate that they’re current with changes in the workplace. There’s always something new to learn. Taking classes is one way to show that you’re a lifelong learner.

If your job gives you opportunities to gain new skills, take advantage of them. For example, if your supervisor is looking for someone to try out a new piece of equipment or software, volunteer to do it.

If you continue to grow, you’ll be viewed as someone who adapts to challenges at any age.

5. Don’t dwell on the good old days

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Strive to live in the present. The surest way to be viewed as someone who is out of step with the modern world is to frequently talk about the good old days and how things used to be done.

Your supervisors and co-workers probably aren’t interested in stories about people who have left the company. If you focus only on the past, you’ll come to be seen as someone who is resisting change.

6. Age-proof your resume

Employer looking at resume
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If you have an updated resume, you’ll be able to quickly apply for interesting jobs you learn about.

Make sure your resume focuses on accomplishments over the last decade. To avoid being eliminated from consideration because of your age, don’t list experiences that could identify you as someone over 50.

If you do have previous experience that you believe will help you land a job, include it under a section called “career highlights” and omit dates. The idea is to get managers and recruiters to look at your abilities, without consideration of your age.

Also check out: “Never Put These 7 Things on Your Resume.”

7. Keep a positive attitude

older worker
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Keep your focus on doing a great job, even if some people think your time has passed. Although age discrimination exists in the workplace, you’ll have a better chance of overcoming it if you don’t dwell on negative comments or perceived slights related to your age.

The best way to fight age discrimination is to use your knowledge and experience to do consistently excellent work. Make sure your contribution is so strong that no one can deny your worth.

Have you encountered problems in the workplace because of your age? Share your experience or thoughts with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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