A Woman Of A Certain Age

Recently, in a TV show I like to watch the issue an older woman has to get a job was brought up. And it made me think what the chances are for a woman my age to land a job in a country that I’ve never properly worked in. I worked for an event the first year we were here and did some little freelance jobs on the side over the last years but nothing that would give me a proper reference. And, of course, there is the age thing.

Nobody wants to hire a woman of a certain age. What they want is a 22-year-old. – Angela, Rizzoli & Isles

Is it really true? If we want to go back to work as 40plus year old women, will we struggle to find a job? I guess so. But how frustrating is it? Do we really lack something besides being young and fresh? Are we considered so disconnected?

I’m torn. Torn between thinking that a woman who wants to go back to work after spending a decade with her kids deserves the same chances as a young woman and giving a young woman a chance. And there is the question: Who deserves it more? The young girl who only just makes her way out of being dependent of her parents or the woman who maybe sacrificed a good job for her family?

I also ask myself who actually brings more to the table? I tend to think that someone older is more balanced than a young girl, maybe even more reliable. But is that really the case? While the 22 year old might go out and party and maybe appear to work hungover, the mom could be sleep deprived in a similar way because a sick child kept her up all night.

I look around and realize how many of my friends who went back to work had to step down the ladder massively in order to get a job. All of them work in positions far below of what they were used to do before children. Do we really lose track of what’s going on in the job-world while we are changing diapers, wiping noses and cleaning up Legos? Do we really turn into a driver, cleaner, dishwasher and laundromat in the eyes of the people that hire for certain positions? Where is the risk in hiring an older woman?

Is our commitment questioned because we have kids at home, waiting for us and our day of work will not be done by a certain time but continue the moment we get home? Look, if I decide to go back to work I probably know what I get myself into and i will make sure that I’m 100% committed to the position I’d like to be hired for. I wouldn’t do it with only half of me in.

While I was still working I’ve seen many people of all ages in all kind of positions. Commitment has nothing to do with age. It’s a character thing. I’ve seen a 22 year old (maybe she was 25) who was spending 3/4 of her time complaining about how much she had to do and not getting anywhere, drinking coffee and talking on her phone to friends. On top of that she was extremely rude with people she had to deal with work-wise. Why did she keep that job? Don’t know. I’m sure it had nothing to do that she was hot and her blouse kept opening further whenever her boss walked passed… And there was the lady who was only helping out on occasions because they didn’t wanted to hire her full time as she was almost 50. Her work was usually done in half of the time she was hired for. Did she then just sit around, drinking coffee or left earlier? Nope. She checked with others if they needed some assistant as she was paid for a week. If nobody needed help she would approach the person who was her supervisor and tell him that she was done. She was basically risking the rest of her weeks payment.

She could have worked slower. But that was not who she was. She was committed to finish her work in the best way possible and that meant for her also as soon as she could. Thankfully he saw it the same way and made sure that he was able to give her some additional work so she would get her weeks payment.

Hiring the right person for the job is a difficult task and I think it’s all about reading people correctly, seeing passed that mask everyone puts on when trying to get something they want. I understand that a person has to fit in a team. But I still think everyone should get a chance to be seen and heard and assessed.

No matter how old you are.

31 thoughts on “A Woman Of A Certain Age

  1. Oh yeah, tell me about it. When I was made redundant in 2001, I signed on to an agency. I was told, to my face, that I was the wrong shape for temp work! Talk about kicking someone when they are already down. I could understand if I was looking for a pole dancer or modeling position, but to work in an office behind a desk? Age was also an issue. I was 45 at the time and considered too old for any position. I kicked them into touch.
    In the UK, employers can pick and choose their staff on a whim.
    If it’s not a curly piece of paper (degree) they want to see on your CV, it’s experience in specific software. There are a lot of clerical jobs I can do, but am not given the chance. At 59, I’m hardly likely to go on maternity leave and what I lack in ‘qualifications’ I make up for with common sense, being flexible and adaptable, a quick learner and the added bonus of not expecting the extortionate salary ‘qualified’ people want, just a decent wage for the job. However, because I am 59, I’m considered untrainable, doddery, slow and useless to the post.
    I got fed up taking it all to heart with their negativity and now see it differently. I think they see me as a threat, as someone who will show up their workforce because I am prepared to do the job (and well) and not sit around complaining, drinking coffee or doing my nails.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t know. I think the advantages to hiring 22 year olds are 1) they do not have to be paid as much as an older and more qualified worker, 2) there’s the assumption that older people are not as familiar with technology — that’s patently absurd since older people invented it and taught the younguns to use it but WHATEVER. One way around this is volunteer work while you are not attempting to find gainful employment. That can get you references, experience and exposure. Two of the best opportunities ever offered me came directly from work I was doing as a volunteer.

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  3. Even though it is not supposed to be a factor, age discrimination is a major issue.

    I know in technical positions, people tend to think older people as less tech savvy. On the flip side we also view younger people as not being experienced enough for leadership positions.

    I know when I was a General Manager in my 20’s, I had a customer accuse me of lying stating I was too young for that position.

    In general though, it is much easier to find another job when you are working than it is to reenter the work force after a long layoff.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That is one reason why I am a fan of having a “skills assessment” as part of the initial interview. That way there is no question as to what transferable skills the interviewee brings to the table.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We had that yesterday and it was so much fun. You are right, it makes so much sense. And you can actually compare how everyone reacts in a group as well. Team work and so on.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I would tend to think that an older person has more experience, his or her head in the right place therefore more reliable. Yet again there are plenty of young, well trained young people that have a drive and hunger to move up the ladder. So depends on the job, and the skills that you bring to it. Nut in general, older means more experience and I believe if I was the CEO of a company I would prefer someone with experience that leads to a job well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I started a new career at age 49 and a half. As a testament to hiring older employees, in the ensuing 2 years, my boss hired 5 more folks, all in their 40’s and 50’s. The 20 somethings were lovely to work with, they just did not have the same life experience, patience or work ethic.There was a well established training program to catch up on the technology…that was easier for management than training young folks in how to deal with the public.Just saying…hang in there, all is possible ! โ˜บ

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My deepest fear! I’m hoping to start a job hunt in a few months with no substantial job history. I’m not afraid to start from the bottom but I would be disappointed if there would not be a growth. Good post

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, absolutely! I often wonder how the job market would be for me if I lost my job. I’ve been here 3 years and I’m not getting any younger.

    Another view on this is how many job interviews I’ve had where I was asked things like ‘are you detail oriented?’ ‘can you multi task?’ and I want to tell them, I pick out two kids outfits, make them lunch, make sure they’re clean, get them to school on time, help them with homework…you tell me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In defense of younger workers, there are some who work their butts off just as much as we do, but they fall into the background, behind the loudmouths who are complaining and talking on the telephone because they (the hard workers) are too busy, you know, working to be noticed. The squeaky wheel and all that.

    I was told that I was overqualified for the positions I was applying for. I have no kids at home — all of my kids are grown — so my absence from the workforce wasn’t related to family leave. I actually stopped working and went to college full time. But that worked against me for some reason. Anyway, managers fear that people with decades of work experience will keep looking for better paying positions and leave as soon as they find a better job. They don’t want to risk putting the time and effort into training someone who’s going to skip out at the earliest possible convenience, then have to go through the time and effort of hiring and training someone else. So it was explained to me. I suppose they feel that younger people will stay on longer because they will keep any job that pays the rent whereas older people have more flexibility in that area. Who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very true. Oh I hate the ‘your overqualified’! I think you forgot something there: Some of them are also afraid that you and your qualification and experience will actually put them in a “dangerous” position. They are scared that you might want to take their place and maybe your have the better qualification than that person or more experience. Happened to me once. And it’s actually so frustrating as I never had the intention to take over. I was just interested in getting back and work with a team like the one I applied for…

      Like

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