Contribution from Kirsty Ferguson, interview and resume expert
I had an interesting discussion over the weekend about ageism with a gentleman. He was older than me and stated that “Women become invisible in the workforce at 50”. He didn’t know that in the very near future I too will hit that new milestone. Notice I call it a milestone not a millstone. His premise being that his wife had found it difficult to get work, and at this point a vivacious lady around mid 40’s joined our conversation. We started to think of and illustrate how many women we knew in successful careers and/or had changed careers who were 45 to 55 plus… there were many. This did little to lessen his determination that age was an insurmountable obstacle in job searches. Now, I’m not denying that age can be a consideration for employers, as can many other attitudes and attributes.
Back in the 80’s the glass ceiling was well and truly sitting atop my and many other women’s heads. What we were disputing was attitude. The women we sighted didn’t rely on past experience; they re-trained, they networked, they developed specialist skills and more than that, they took risks and backed themselves. One great friend’s mother is 80 something and still works as a contract bookkeeper. Nobody is going to tell her it’s time to retire, she loves it! And yes, she definitely has “attitude”, “chutzpa” “get up and go” or whatever you wish to call it.
There are many things that can be considered challenges in finding employment; lack of tertiary education, English as a second language, economic downturns and of course age to name a few… But above those I would like you to consider that the most challenging position to hold is a limiting attitude. As my clients have often heard me say: “Do something differently, change opens up new opportunities”.