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How to Age-Proof Yourself for a Midlife Career Change (from a Recruiter!)

 How to Age-Proof Yourself for a Midlife Career Change (from a Recruiter!)

Did you know that the average age for an successful entrepreneur is 45? Yet women experience ageism at work earlier than men in midlife.

From our work with women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, we get it. Age discrimination can hold you back from making a change, whether you’re:

  • Returning to the workforce.
  • Pivoting careers.
  • Asking for a promotion.
  • Job searching.

Ageism feels like the last acceptable “ism.” But more and more, companies are realizing that it needs to be included in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which is a sign of progress.

At the same time, women in midlife are a growing demographic and represent a talent pipeline for organizations looking to fill gaps with experienced professionals.

How can women capitalize on this growing attention? At EvolveMe, we know there’s a positive edge to being in midlife!

In a recent Ellevate + EvolveMe Midlife Career Change Roundtable session, we spoke with Candance Chow, co-founder of NextGroup, a recruitment firm for mid-career talent, for an honest interactive conversation about tips to tackle gendered ageism head-on in the workplace (the conversation you can’t have at work!) or when you’re making a change -- starting with what’s inside of you!

Check out NextGroup’s five actionable tips below for how you can best position yourself for a change in midlife. You can take back control! You’ll also gain insights into what employers are looking for in mid-career talent like you.

[Related: Tips For Women on the Verge of a Career Change at 50]

1) Shift to a consultant mindset and/or become a subject matter expert.

Your years of experience in a field or subject area are assets to leverage - not a moniker to be ashamed of! I spent years in the management consulting industry and never did we shy away from touting the 20+ years of experience of our senior partners.

These years bring wisdom, courage, and adaptability. The same applies to women! So, position yourself in roles where you can utilize your institutional or functional knowledge in a field or company. Age = Value.

2) Never stop up-skilling.

Change is a given in every field, in every role, in every workplace. Demonstrate that you’re committed to staying at the forefront by taking on new technology or trends and absorbing the value and application in your work. It is not okay to lean on the fact that “someone else did that for me” or “I never had to touch those tools directly before.”

The workplace has flattened and is especially flat in more high-growth industries where employment opportunities abound. So even if you’re guiding the work, you need to know how to do the work. Companies like General Assembly, Google Learning, and LinkedIn Learning offer endless opportunities to grasp new concepts, learn new technology, and better understand the trends that will most impact your career. Invest some time and there will be a return on your investment.

3) Show your value in a multigenerational workplace.

I participated in a panel about the Great Resignation recently and learned there are five generations currently engaged in the US workforce. This is the first time in history we can make this claim. And, in such an age-diverse workforce, having experienced many stages of life is invaluable. Yet some may subscribe to the narrative that those in midlife are out of touch with the youngest workers among us.

I prefer to stress a 50+ woman’s ability to mentor, coach, and guide colleagues as they mature in their careers. You don’t have to be a direct manager to contribute to a coaching and learning culture. In fact, now more than ever, mid-level managers who hold this responsibility are stretched thinner and thinner. You can bring tremendous value by offering your informal counsel and support.

Your years of experience in a field or subject area are assets to leverage - not a moniker to be ashamed of! -Candance Chow

[Related: Innovating Through Empathy to Thrive in a Divided World]

4) Demonstrate your ability to innovate, be curious, and be adaptable.

One of the “risks/concerns” I’ve heard from hiring managers regarding hiring women (or men in some cases) who are in midlife is the perception that they will be more “rigid”or unwilling to approach problems in creative ways. They typically will pull up an example of one hire who just couldn’t break the mold of how he did it for years…and thought he was always right.

You need to combat that false narrative head-on. Share stories in your interviews that showcase your ability to pivot, respond to new challenges, and remain agile in your decision-making. Make sure accomplishments and/or skills on your resume spotlight your curiosity and adaptability - two traits almost every employer I have worked with is seeking right now.

5) Focus on your network and tap the hidden job market.

When you’re looking for a new role, the best way to tackle the myths of gendered ageism is to have someone in your corner from the outset. Your network can advocate for your skills and accomplishments. They can dispel concerns or biases due to your time out of the workforce (if that applies) or time in a single role, company, or industry.

Plus, we all know that many, many opportunities never make it to the job posting phase. They evolve and professionals who are well-networked gain access before they are even official. It may not be fair, but it happens. And if you’re hiring, you want as much information on the candidate's track record as possible. Make sure yours is top of mind.

With these tips in hand, you’ll gain more confidence to position yourself for opportunities you deserve. Firsthand advice from a recruiter who meets with companies interested in hiring experienced female candidates is priceless!

Which tip can you take action on now?

Don’t go at it alone! Coping with ageism at whatever age and stage you’re in can make you feel like you’re the only one. We’re in this together.

[Related: Working Women's Double Dose of Discrimination: Gender + Ageism]

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Want to check your mindsets to see if they're setting you up for success? Download EvolveMe's free resource: www.evolveme.work/mindset.

EvolveMe partners with NextGroup and Ellevate to prepare women to take on roles that help them get closer to their potential in midlife. Learn more here: www.nextgroupus.com; www.evolveme.work; www.ellevatenetwork.com.

Linda Lautenberg, Co-Founder of EvolveMe, is a return to work expert, women’s career advancement strategist, and champion for all midlife career changers. Along with her co-founder, Linda developed EvolveMe’s proprietary DARE Method of Career Reinvention to help cohorts of high achieving women find clarity, gain confidence, and launch the best chapter of their professional life. Linda's work has appeared in Forbes.com, cnn.com, Reuter’s World at Work, the Ellevate Network, and Fairygodboss. And she was nominated for the Forbes’ 50Over50 List. Get the inspiration you need for your next career move by downloading EvolveMe’s FREE training: 6 Mindset Traps that Sabotage Career Transition in Midlife.

As Co-Founder of EvolveMe, Judy Schoenberg is a career strategist and leadership expert for women in midlife career transition who are exploring a return to the workforce or are pivoting careers. Through the DARE Method of Career Reinvention she created with her co-founder, Judy helps cohorts of women find the clarity and confidence to own their value and pursue new opportunities. She’s appeared in Forbes.com, cnn.com, Reuter’s World at Work, the Ellevate Network and Fairygodboss. If you need a place to start getting unstuck, download EvolveMe’s FREE training: 6 Mindset Traps that Sabotage Career Transition in Midlife.


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