I recently attended an unemployment orientation class and was recommended to trim my resume to be more concise to the work I was looking for. My “years of experience” translated to overwhelming the audience and it was intimidating. I was immediately categorized as a “mature worker” and was recommended to attend a class on maneuvering in the new work force as a mature worker.
The woman who told me this, herself was about to retire and she said she knew where I was coming from. Did she really?
Did she understand my background and my technical aptitude to hold my own as a “mature worker”. Just exactly what does that mean?
Let me back up and say that first of all, I embrace and accept crone hood. I have earned each and every white hair and wrinkle circling my eyes. Years of raising a child by myself, working a full time job and putting food on the table has made me a stronger and more agile woman, mother and worker. I know when to adjust for agility and I know what I am capable of. A lot more than the average bear, let me tell you.
I found myself working in the IT field because it was the smarter thing to do. I knew staying stuck in an “administrative support” role would lead to frustration and anger. How the hell is a single parent suppose to raise a child on $15 per hour?
I got out of the support role because the only person I support is myself and my child. I am not about to support others when they could do it themselves.
Being 10 years in IT consulting has taught me a few things. The industry is highly flexible and fickle. You learn to anticipate change and move within it. You learn to not over react and at times hone your skills. You learn not to panic.
I want to break it down even more.
What I love about what I do.
What I like about IT consulting.
I like the challenge. I like learning new skills and testing them out. In a way, I like the ability to flex my brain power. Too manipulate even the toughest problems and the joy of overcoming them. And sometimes when I’m not able to overcome obstacles, to push past and take the lesson to heart.
What I don’t like about what I do.
Well, there is the unsteady nature of consulting. When a project is done, it’s time to move on to other pastures. A colleague of mine referred to what we do as mercenary. I like that definition in a way. You go where the problem is and you solve it. End of the day, there is always another battle to fight. So what’s in it for me? The glory of the fight? The ability to not be bound and committed (This does not reflected on my personal life. My husband used to get worried that I would have the same approach to our marriage. Hah!) ?
Or perhaps it is more about being in the moment and practicing to let go when it is done.
Buddhism. The 4 noble truth. The act of acceptance and letting go. These concepts all point to a singular point of starting and ending. The ebb and flow of how things work.
So before I got off track and started getting all esoteric, what I wanted to talk about was being labeled “mature worker”. What does that mean and who labeled me a mature worker. Is there some magic line that I crossed over to becoming mature as opposed to immature? I haven’t even turned 50 yet! 7 more months!
What is this concept and notion that once you are “mature”, you are now considered outdated? By whom?
I recall having a conversation with a few women friends also in the tech industry who also were labeled “mature”. They noted that there were definite ageism going on when it came to looking for work. According to a recent Seattle Times article, “Ageism is alive and well in the workplace,” said Kerry Hannon, a workplace expert and author of Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies. “It’s illegal, but the fact is that it’s there.”
With that being said, I want to challenge my readers who are 50 and older, do you consider yourself outdated and if so, what is your approach to being typecast as “mature”.
In a society that is stuck on old as being discarded, what do the youth have to offer? Inexperience and naivete? Do you want that running your IT projects?
Just something to consider when someone calls you a “mature worker”. ;0