A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco showed that yes, age bias in the workplace does definitely exist, and what’s more, it’s especially hard for older women. We see these worries all the time in our clients – it’s just another challenge that we rise up to face as we age. But it is certainly not impossible for older women to stay competitive at work. There are plenty of ways to turn your age and experience into your biggest asset.
#1: Continue to Develop Knowledge and Skills
It is never too late to brush up on your skills. While I’d love to be able to hop back in time and tell you 20 years ago to devote plenty of time to your professional development, the next best thing I can do is tell you to do is make sure you’re doing it now.
Seek out any possible training opportunities in your workplace. Otherwise, go online. Look for online training or search for relevant courses at your local college.
Speak to your boss about professional development. Are there conferences you can attend, or any learning opportunities? Ask if you can shadow other members of the team to gain knowledge and experience in different areas, especially if there’s an area into which you might like to transition.
#2: Keep an Updated Résumé
Even if you’re not planning on making a career change any time soon, keep an updated résumé. Just having a look over your résumé every few months can keep you focused at work and prepared for anything that might come up. Plus, sometimes the need for a résumé can come out of the blue – a job opportunity might suddenly appear that you find attractive.
To make sure you stay competitive at work and in line for any new positions that might arise, consider seeing a professional career coach and have them help you rebuild your résumé.
If you’re considering a change into a particular area, keep your résumé concise. Chances are you’ve accumulated years of experience by now so just trim it to the most relevant points. This works as a bit of a deflector shield against any potential age bias that an employer might have. Some advise going one step further – you can “age-proof” your résumé by not including dates.
#3: Act Now To Stay Competitive at Work
If you are thinking of making a career move, do it sooner rather than later – set the wheels in motion now. Unfortunately, the statistics tell us that time isn’t on our side here – but you can still stay competitive and move into a more fulfilling role.
Don’t miss the lateral opportunities – a sideways move can be just as beneficial in the long run as an upward move by giving you a much-needed change in scenery and expanding options available to you at a later date.
Talk to friends or colleagues who are in roles you find interesting – ask them about their career journey. Offer some of your time in return for experience; inquire about volunteer opportunities or shadowing.
Be confident – you absolutely can stay competitive at work as an older woman. Remember that your age and experience really can be turned into your greatest asset. After all, while the work environment does seem to value youth, nobody is going to prefer a 25 year old for advice, for training or for consultancy. Use your age as your strength; seek out the positions that are going to value your experience the most.
Returning to Work After a Long Time?
This is where things can feel really intimidating – you might have gone through a challenging transition in your life, which means you either must or want to go back to work. It’s easy to undersell yourself at this point – you may not see that some of the skills you have already developed have value in the workplace.
Returning to work needn’t be a nightmare – it could be a dream come true. Look for volunteer opportunities in an area that really appeals or reach out to organizations that you would love to be involved with, for some unpaid work experience. You may also decide to pursue an advanced degree or some type of technical training that will afford better earning opportunities.
And get professional advice. In South Carolina, you can get help creating an effective résumé through SC Works or use your local library for help too to build your workforce development skills. Use local resources – job banks or employment agencies can help you find what’s out there. Go to local jobs fairs and hiring events to speak to employers.
Keep Your Money On Track, Too
As you move up the career ladder, or return to work after an extended period of absence, you may find yourself with increasing financial planning needs, too. Should this be the case, we’d be very happy to offer advice and guidance to help you feel confident and in control of your finances.
If you’d just like a chat, please reach out and make an appointment with us. We can guide you through any life transitions, and help you develop financial security as you move towards retirement.