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Nervous about job opportunities with age

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Nervous about job opportunities with age

Postby Ralf K. » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:07 am

Dear forum,

I just heard three stories this week that shocked me and I want to have a broader view from the forum:

A) After a re-org a colleague of mine was head of project management and then put in a transition organization (late 40s) and after about a year to try to find him a new job inside the company he had to leave.

B) A friend has a guy in his lab that after his first industry job (in his late 30s) made half a year break due to family reasons and now in his 40s he could never find another job again. He is basically helping out in the lab as part-time tech as part of an un-employment program.

C) A regulatory manager in my project team a work told me today, that he has to do the job even he doesn't really like it, but after 40 he can't get anything else.

I am asking because I signed for a new role as Project Lead in a top company that is quiet well payed, but not 100% what I enjoy doing. I thought I slowly grow my skillset before going towards the job I really want: Innovation Project Management, Marketing, Strategy, Partnering etc. as none of these jobs really had an opening for somebody with medium experience 4-5 years in his early 30s.

My questions:
1. Are we really in such a bad job situation today?
2. Is the career direction set and hard to change after 35/40?

I get a bit nervous about all these stories and realize that I start to become very risk-averse in my job search and networking strategy. I am thankful that have a decent job compared to no job, but still...

Thank you very much for your views
Ralf K.
 
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Re: Nervous about job opportunities with age

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:51 pm

Ralf

I am absolutely sure that certain kinds of discrimination DO exist. You'll find companies that will screen you out of the process if they don't like your race or your sexual preference. You'll find women being discriminated against because they "could become pregnant" in the near future . . . And, you'll find people in the middle of their career who will be discriminated against because you can find a cheaper person who's in their 20's.

Yet, despite the fact that in each of these situations you can always find an example, or at least hear the "horror stories" being passed along from mouth to mouth, this isn't the reality for 90%+ of the job seeking market. Probably more like 97%. It's just not all that easy to find raw, ugly discrimination today.

I've worked in the employment world for three decades, and I recall a terrible racist hiring manager who used stereotypes and nasty names to justify why he didn't want us to bring in candidates from South Asia. I've had women who did not want to hire another female candidate. And, I've seen people laid off because (in all likelihood) there were cheaper, newer staff available who do the same work. But all of these examples are from 20-25+ years ago. Companies have REALLY cleaned up their acts. Most employers recognize that diversity is a plus -- they want the gender balance, they want the cross-cultural thinking and faster solutions to problems that occurs when there are people of many different upbringings on board. It's a fact -- companies who do NOT discriminate do better, act nicer, and in general succeed easier than the slimy kind of operation that might discriminate.

As a job seeker, you'll need to keep your focus on always providing a better package of "deliverables" to your employer than the next guy. Take the extra classes, learn how to manage people and projects, and then put your nose to the grindstone and put in the hours. You'll always be able to find a good job if you are that kind of person.

As an aside, I have a hiring manager who told me today (and this is not uncommon) that the profile of the candidate she wants to hire would be someone "in their late 50s, who brings in a lot of experience and savvy that the younger team members can learn from, and who will be respected by them from day one."

Dave
"One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action." - Lewis Howes
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Re: Nervous about job opportunities with age

Postby D.X. » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:45 am

Hi Ralf,

Well first for the forum, both Ralf and I are in the same country ,and same area, we probable work a few Kms from each other. Our pharma sector especially at the Global Operations level is and has been consolidating quite intensily, meaning alot of layoffs and a super competitive and saturated job market. So ageism and discrimination linked to that is an artifact and/or untended consequence of our market.

For Ralf, I do believe there is an age vs experience sweet spot. You mentioned Marketing Strategy and Partner Management as career objective, first many whom I,ve met who are say heads of function or franchise started thier careers much earlier than us PhDs and or have a career profile that have included alot of experience in a short time be it jumping to different roles in the sane company or doing so externally, with quite a bit of geograpgic movement - alot of Senior Management i see in our Global teams have a bit of US, a bit of Europe and some Emerging Market experience from an expat perspective. So do alot of that stuff by a certain age and you are in a sweet spot age and experience wise.

What also notice is these folks never get too comfortable - they are very attentive to thier competitive profile and thier political situation. They are great at reading the hand writing on the wall. If there is change coming where competitive and politcal edge are no longer in thier favor, they have already mapped thier escape route long before and thing can get to them, i.e. No boxes of kleenex for the, to cry into. So they.re always networking always finding doors to open , thats how they are fighting the age thing.

Many you will find get incapacitated to look eslewhere so the examples you gave i think are the signs and symptoms. For example an issue i see is many get stuck on the idea that the want to be in-house Pharma, they'll take crappy roles and complain rather than say take a chalkenge and see what say for example the vendor side has. Or even start thier own company or switch fields or industry so thats another issue i see with lack of managing agism challlenges.

Other sectors save for permanant government jobs are no different - its about investing in yourself and network. Dont let market dynamiic impact networking.

As for me - i am one who is on the look out - with dabbling with a business and well my company is going throught a re-org too so im not waiting to see what happens, it will happen very very soon, but i already have an offer fromi another company which i have a couple weeks to judge on (we just started the package negotiation). So my advise, we cant get too comfortable on the paths we took, we always need to be hustling especially was we get older and advance in career and life ambitions!

Dx
D.X.
 
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