Baby Boomers: How to Stay Relevant in a Millennial World
Last month we discussed that employees over 50, while providing value to their companies, were living in fear. Fear that while at the very top of their game, had them worried about being replaced by younger, cheaper workers, compounded by a fear of irrelevance created by the actions of their employer. A fear knowing that finding a new job over 50 is a daunting task, often taking up to a year and resulting in significantly lower compensation.
No doubt about it – today’s jobs are tailor-made for a younger workforce, but there aren’t enough Millennials to fill positions. While these fears are justified, fortunately, there are plenty of ways for 50+ year old employees to prove their worth at work and in turn, see their way to retirement. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path:
Embrace Your New Work Environment: It is what it is and you will either embrace and grow with it or you will be left behind. Accept change and adapt your experiences to the new way of doing things. Don’t talk about the past; how things use to be. Don’t leave work at 5 pm on the dot. Work late a couple of nights a week to showcase your drive and enthusiasm to management and act as a role model for your younger co-workers.
Get Up to Speed on Technology: Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Instagram. Uber. Airbnb. If you don’t use these apps and aren’t the President of the United States, you are behind. Technology has changed the modern workplace dramatically in the last 20 years. U.S. companies easily access global markets, and tech devices bring convenience to both our professional and personal lives. But in a world where technological know-how is a ticket to employment, aging Baby Boomers must change to stay relevant – or find themselves in the unemployment line. Adopt and adapt. Know the internet – what it does, what sources you can trust, and how it works with other technologies. Learn and actually use popular apps like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Know what Uber and Airbnb are and how they work.
Be a Mentor – Find a Mentor: Becoming a mentor for your younger co-worker has two advantages. First, it provides meaning for you and provides valuable learning experiences for the mentee. Second, it provides the opportunity for you to be mentored by the younger worker, keeping you current on things like technology, young adult trends and simply opening your mind to future possibilities.
Go Back to School: The most important way to close the generation gap is education. Back to school today is way more than the traditional classroom. On-line programs, seminars, blogs and eBooks are at your fingertips. Set a goal to read in your field every day. Learn how to use and take advantage of social media. It’s more important than ever for Boomers to learn the right skills to compete with their younger counterparts in the job market.
Build and Communicate Your Personal Brand: Why do you do what you do and why should people care? How do you do what you do? What success have you had in your career? All of this is part of your personal brand. If you don’t have this written down you should.
Stay Visible, Stay Relevant: How do you communicate your brand? Who you know still matters, who is in your network? Do you volunteer for at least one organization? Are you perceived as an expert in your field, do you speak regularly at conferences or do you blog regularly? If you’ve done something noteworthy and it landed on the web, trust me – it will be found. Technology serves you and your organization, so make sure you record accomplishments virtually.
Look Young, Feel Young: If you don’t have one already, start an exercise program. Not only will it make you look good in the office, it will give you more energy and stimulate your mood and ability to think creatively. Invest in an up-to-date wardrobe and hairstyle. You will be more inviting to your co-workers and customers. Be authentic, a modern version of yourself. Above all else, bring a high energy, optimistic and positive attitude to work.
Consider a Second Career: Finally, if you feel that you no longer get joy out of your current work environment, then do something else. First ask yourself what you “really” want to do, what you want out of life, what makes you happy. Take all that experience, the money you have saved and your new-found opportunity to teach or mentor young people or invest and start that new business you have always wanted but never quite had the courage to break away from corporate life to pursue. Know your strengths and accomplishments and point them toward a new career. Whatever you choose, make sure it feeds your soul and delivers on your “purpose”. Then get whatever education you need and get on with it.
Know that true success comes from your experience, leadership and a positive attitude. Your strengths and accomplishments are valuable. You are at the top of your game, you know you have what it takes to achieve success. Get rid of that negative talk that is going on inside your head, get past your fear of irrelevance and get going. If you believe in yourself, you’re trained, energetic and enthusiastic, there is no limit to what you can achieve.
Leadership and a positive attitude are age-less. Be your own best promoter.