Ageism in Professional Development

Ageism in Professional Development

I’ve been meaning to do a post on ageism and professional development for some time now.  Perhaps next week when I take a little off time with the family in Nashville.

Having been a professional developer (contractor, employee, manager, owner, entrepreneur) now for some twenty-five years, I have more than a few idle thoughts on the subject.

Part of my reticence on writing about the issue (which is very real) is not wanting to come across as just another bitter old guy crying about one thing or the other being better when I was a younger guy.  I’d rather write a heist novel – nobody’s ever done that, right?

Any way, trying to coalesce my thoughts into a semi-worthwhile take on the subject.  Meanwhile, if you have thoughts on the subject (or war stories), please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

One thought on “Ageism in Professional Development

  1. Prejudice against “age” exists, it’s real, we know all that. I coach, and I hear it all the time. Those sneaky interviewers … one of my clients thought it was going to be OK and then came, “Oh your son lives here? What does do” (blah blah) “How old is he?”

    I maintain if a company, corporation or individual comes on that way, you don’t want to work for them, and you have dodged a bullet. Thank them (silently) for letting you know early-on and move on.

    Because someone is looking for you!!

    It exists, but, like any other prejudice, it’s not smart to adopt it because you can miss the individual that does not suit your specific, pre-judged stereotype.

    I have innumerable clients over the age of 50 for over a decade now; a fair portion over 60. Most of them defy any stereotype one might have.

    What if I told you this? One of “them” just went white water rafting. One of them has a better short-term memory than I ever had. One of “them” has become fluent in Russian AND German in the past 5 years. One of “them” just entered a new field, in which she immediately excelled. (Her supervisor is “amazed” because she meets deadlines, shows up on time, doesn’t call in sick on Monday, and has a cheerful attitude. That’s kind of pathetic, isn’t it, that a supervisor would find that “amazing”?) Most of “them” have superior emotional intelligence which, given relatively equal IQ and skills, can make or break your workplace ambience. If one beautiful woman can hang a jury, one self-centered, negative and entitled worker can sour a work environment.

    Further, I see middle-age, and any not-chosen change, as a transition, and a chance to move to a better place. I have coached numerous “aging professionals” to doing what they always wanted to do, never had time to do, were afraid to try … with smashing results. One newspaper editor who was laid off hung up his credentials and is happily running his own HOME REPAIR BUSINESS. Why? Because THAT IS WHAT HE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO.

    I have also interviewed numerous HR personnel. The protected minority is 40 and over, which is – well, you know, A HECKUVA LOT OF PEOPLE. They tell me they value the experience of older professionals, their ability to handle stress, their emotional intelligence and communication skills, and their ability to ride through what younger workers consider “crises.”

    I could go on and on. I have plenty of war stories, but I can trump them with success stories. Telling war stories raises your blood pressure and makes you ‘sick.’

    Want to hear more success stories?

    Good luck, and why not write that heist novel? Email me for coaching, .


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