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Turning ageism on its age

Starting over at 57

Author: Mary Calhoun/Tuesday, June 03, 2014/Categories: Life after 50, Workforce

I’ve been on a couple of interviews now and they have been most enlightening.  Every one has been hosted by individuals decades younger and considerably less experienced. There have been some awkward moments and some genuinely engaging moments that I will always remember with a smile.
 
All of these experiences referenced my age in some way or another—blatantly obvious or cautiously and curiously enquiring.  Being the perverse individual that I can be, I must say that I enjoyed watching them squirm uncomfortably or with noticeable relief when they realized that I was not offended or defensive in my responses.
 
Who knew that I could charm these young whippersnappers into seriously considering me to be a part of their team where I would be working under their direction?
 
I have replayed those interviews over and over in my mind trying to figure out what exactly did I do right. Here’s what I think happened:
  1. I went into those interviews thinking that my age was an advantage instead of a disadvantage.  My portfolio of experience took a few years to cultivate; it didn’t happen overnight.  Short term specific experience is sometimes less desirable than a vast array of long-term experience
  2. Focusing on my passion for learning helped them to get past any preconceived notion that I was hostile or hesitant about learning anything new.  Showing my progression of learning through the years and the skills acquired (both hard and soft skills examples) helped me to make an instant connection with their need for someone willing to learn or take on a project that no one else wanted
  3. My sincere willingness to take a pay cut. Before I even applied to these positions, I crunched my numbers. No matter how promising a job offer is, if you can’t afford to pay your bills, job satisfaction will be a farce. I think when one interviewer asked me if retirement was a consideration and I said without a moment’s hesitation, “Yes, it is” the interview turned in my favor. The other interviewer on the panel exclaimed, “Seriously?” I think that’s when they realized that I was not desperate for the job, and that I truly wanted to be a part of their team.
The learning never ends for this old chick.

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Mary Calhoun
Mary Calhoun

Mary Calhoun

Pacific Region OASIS member Mary L. Calhoun has worked in the public sector for over 35 years. She's a former staff writer for a Los Angeles City Councilmember and a technical writer who has published annual reports, media portfolios, training and instructional manuals, policy and more. Other posts by Mary Calhoun
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