Discouraging Observations About People Who Know Things


Executive recruiter Jack Kelly says if you're in your mid-40s to mid-50s, you're harder to employ - because you have something called experience.

The perception, I believe, is that young college graduates will be eager, enthusiastic, motivated, work hard, not talk back, are proficient in new and emerging technology, and do as they are told. If you are a young kid in Jacksonville, Florida and get the chance to work at a top global bank, you are not going to make waves, and will just be happy to have the job. Whereas, experienced – old – employees have the annoying habits of having wisdom, experience, and accumulated knowledge, and are apt to share it with everyone. Unfortunately, these positive traits can be viewed as being a pain in the ass, difficult to work with, and a know-it-all. Basically, it’s like when my kids were younger and I told them not to watch too much television, to put down their phones and actually talk to someone, or not to eat ice cream before dinner. Their death stares to me are similar to the reactions that corporate types give to these experienced people, who are trying to help the firm by sharing their knowledge and expertise. As it relates to Compliance, perhaps companies would rather not have these older people who witnessed booms and busts, scandals and schemes, and could offer lessons on how to avoid them, because it would stand in the way of making money right now.

What to do? Unfortunately, Kelly does not offer any remedies.

But here are some ideas for rising to the challenge!

One option is to become more mobile, a decidedly unattractive choice for many middle-age Americans, who own their homes and don't want to leave their lifestyle behind to move for a job (even though it's one of the best ways to improve the odds).

I (who resemble this demo) opened my own business and now "consult" (a word I hate, and which is totally inaccurate. What I actually do is a lot of busy work to get my client's tasks done). It was terrifying and maybe/maybe not my choice, but once I figured out how to run a business, it has been truly rewarding. I am encouraged to see what happens next! How did I start? A brave friend who started down this path a little before me told me to ask everyone I know if they needed the services I provide. Turns out people did.

Then there's the typical midlife crisis option β€” go back and do something completely different. If Millennials can get jobs with no experience (and questionable educational accomplishments), then so can older workers switching fields.

Personally, I think it's a waste of time to go back to college and try to earn another degree. You're seriously going to spend money on education, which you already have, rather than reduce your debts? Hey, some people like it. I've had enough schooling for a lifetime.

Perhaps, if you're able (like in a two-income household) you may want to go part-time to see what's out there that is fun and interesting. At this point in life, doing anything DIFFERENT feels good. For folks with advanced degrees, try becoming an adjunct professor at the local college. The pay's not great, but the insights are fabulous and the experience is truly helpful because you are exposed to Millennials and Gen Z, and learn how to play in that space. For others, start by choosing something you love to do, then investigate how to make money from it. There's creativity in figuring out how to make it happen.

Have you had a midlife career change, of your own making or otherwise? What happened? How did you do?