You must have been a real looker when you were younger.
The graying of the American workforce has begun. Many people have delayed retirement because of the economy and some older workers still want to work and don’t plan to stop. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers age 55-64 in the workplace is expected to increase by 36.5 percent between 2006-2016.
I have been getting a number of questions lately about being a successful older worker, and offer these suggestions to help people stay vibrant in today’s changing business world:
1. Don’t get defensive. The above quote said to a businesswoman in her 60s illustrates that people give back-handed compliments about age. A man was told that “He looked great for his age.” Don’t dwell on the comment or its intent. Simply reply, “Thank you” and move to another topic.
2. Overcome negative self-talk. Don’t keep asking yourself, “Am I too old for this?” View yourself as a professional with lots of good experience and look forward to more career accomplishments. You can also look to role models of successful older workers for inspiration. Diane Sawyer turned 67 a few months ago.
3. Learn social media. Have a Facebook page. Get on LinkedIn. Know about Twitter. You need some familiarity with social media. If you don’t know where to start, ask your children or grandchildren for help.
4. Toot your own horn. Regardless of your age, you need to speak well of yourself. But you will be dating yourself if you continually mention the past. Saying, “At Gimbels we did…” may make you seem like a dinosaur as some people you work with may not have been born in 1987 when this national department store closed. Also, don’t joke about how long you have been in the workplace. One 54-year old manager often says, “When I worked at Ford 100 years ago….”
5. Stay in shape. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help keep you vital and well.
6. Learn how to work for a younger boss. You may need to adjust your communication style. Know how your boss likes to communicate. If he or she prefers texting, learn to text. Remember to act like an employee, not a parent.
7. Get a makeover. You can choose to look younger. Dying your hair, updating your glasses or getting contacts, whitening your teeth, getting a new hairstyle and a contemporary wardrobe can often deduct ten years or more from your look. Some people also choose more extensive measures like Botox or plastic surgery. If you don’t know where to begin, professional coaches can help.
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Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette and communication for organizations worldwide. Contact Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
**This blog originally ran in February 2011.