By Alex Freund
Once you reach a certain threshold of maturity, fewer job opportunities are available because you get stereotyped. It’s a fact in most cases. But why? There are several reasons. First, in today’s exponential advancement of technological developments, younger people seem to catch on and to be able to adapt much faster than older folks can. Employers know that, and if anything, the future will probably see the advent of more and more and faster and faster technology that will permeate our work lives and home lives.
Second, mature people tend to resist change. They’re happy with the status quo and often struggle in learning new things. If you’re older and use a smartphone, remember how hard it was to convert to your new gadget and how much you envied the younger person who within minutes helped you originally set it up. And by the way, how do you react to periodic upgrades of computer programs you’ve been used to for a long time and now everything is different and rearranged and you can’t find anything. So, that’s my point.
Third, it is known that with maturity comes complacency: you’re satisfied with the way things are; you don’t feel the need to make changes; and you’re not considering the danger or the cost of not adapting to new things.
Fourth, the business world has become very fast paced. If a company does not include the expression fast paced in a job description, it may mean the company has not yet adapted to the twenty-first century. Older people like their own pace and resist getting on a work-related treadmill where the company or the boss regulates the speed control.
Fifth—and possibly not the last reason—certain physiological changes occur with the aging process. They’re of course normal, and they occur at different ages for different people. Examples are some loss of hearing (not being able to hear everything being said in a team meeting), impairment of vision (problems seeing fine print on the computer screen), general memory loss (difficulty in quickly recalling relevant and important job-related issues), and loss of energy and vitality (in a fast-paced organization in which both energy and vitality are prerequisites).
Employers are aware of all of those impeding factors and naturally gravitate to younger people despite the fact that older people many times represent a much better value: older workers may have better work ethics; they can apply seasoned thinking; they make fewer errors because they’ve already made those mistakes and learned from them at earlier stages of their careers; and they offer an abundance of experience that younger people simply do not possess.
You can’t fight city hall, as the adage goes, and therefore, more-mature people should consider doing other things that better fit their lifestyles. Oops, didn’t I just say older people resist change? So, what is one to do? Don’t panic. There are solutions. Seek out books that cover this subject precisely and provide answers—for example, What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement, by John E. Nelson and Richard N. Bolles. Such books have terrific information on how to go about making a change. Bon voyage on your journey. Please send postcards and photos.