Barbara Moses: Sometimes what you say is true, but not always. But if this happens to you or some-one you know, I would advise them to start looking for another job rather than take abuse. No job is worth it in terms of the price you pay to psychological well-being.
Globe Careers: When does age discrimination start to set in? What is mid-life?
Barbara Moses: It depends on the industry sector, how you look, and how you present yourself. Some people experience it as early as their early 40s. For most it kicks in in late 40s or 50s. Why? Because employers sometimes think they can hire someone younger and cheaper who has more of what is called "run-way"(if the company invests in them they will reap rewards for a longer time.)
Globe Careers: How can people overcome age discrimination in the workplace?
Barbara Moses: By making yourself a valued commodity. If you display bitterness or start to share old war stories, people may not want to work with you. On the other hand, if you are talented, support the development of younger workers, and act as a mentor- you will be more likely to be appreciated.
Comment From Elizabeth
Hi Barbara, I also work in academia and have recently been demoted and reassigned, although my pay rate was unaffected. I've also been told that I should stop volunteering for committee work etc. in order to give younger staff more opportunities for development. Other colleagues of similar age report they have received subtle & not-so subtle messages they should consider retirement or leaving, so there seems to be a systemic "cleaning house" mentality. What coping strategies would you suggest for us?
Barbara Moses: You should modify, but not completely withdraw, from volunteer activities. Show how you can be an asset to younger colleagues. Show how you want to make room for them but that you still have a career and a role to play and something to offer.
Comment From Guest
I am a former director at a high tech firm who, following severe layoffs, found a government job with less senior responsibilities however also with half the pay. Stability is important to me as I have a young family. Am I kidding myself that any job is stable? The environment now is much healthier as is my work-life balance. However, I sometimes wonder if I should pursue a higher paying job in the tech industry which would undoubtedly come with a price tag in terms of quality of life.
Barbara Moses: I think you have demonstrated an awareness of the issues and your own personal needs. Every job and opportunity provides rewards and trade-offs. If you can afford your current lifestyle, and are happy to have your family needs and stability desires met, why would you leave?
Comment From Lin
I was restructured out of my position, high pressure, long days, BBerry tied to the hip, What is the best way to express during an interview that I do not wish to be at the top of the totem pole any longer and life-work balance is more important than the
Barbara Moses: You expressed it quite poetically here. I was sold!
Barbara Moses: Employers understand that not everyone wants to pay the price for the brass ring. And many employers will welcome your honesty, as long as you communicate that you care about your work and being engaged.
Globe Careers: What factors should people consider if they've been demoted later in life?
Barbara Moses: I would look at what opportunities this demotion liberates. For example, many who have taken a demotion talk about having more time for family and welcome being liberated from concerns about staffers' egos, time pressures, lack of resources. Your challenge is to not ct like you have swallowed a bitter pill and rue the unfairness. Obviously money may be an issue, but I have found that people often over-estimate how much money they really need, and once they get over the shock and do a realistic assessment of current financial requirements realize that with some small adjustments in lifestyle spending that they are not being hugely disadvantaged. Remember, many older workers have few financial commitment in terms of mortgages and kids' tuition than they did when they were younger. Unfortunately many don't take the time to actually look at current financial needs, instead operating from an ossified script of previous needs....