It’s not unusual in life to be caught between two stages. Tweens straddle the line between young childhood and the teen years. It happens again when you’re old enough to vote but can’t order a drink in a bar. And after college graduation, you may be embarking on a career but are also not completely, as my father would say, “off the dole.”
Who knew it could happen again as a working adult, one who’s far past entry-level, but still a good bunch of years away from retirement?
I see lots of young professional groups, mentorship programs and networking events, all geared toward helping fledgling careerists get ahead. There are management groups and networks for senior-level folks, too. But if you’re not young and your job is more rank-and-file than boss, there’s a palpable dearth of such groups, as if you’re just too far gone to pursue anything beyond what’s in your lap.
Several years ago, before joining the credit union industry, I decided to transition from freelance work to something more steady. Nosing around online revealed a curious trend in advice for jobseekers of a certain age. Keep dates off your resume, they said. Don’t include anything over ten years old.
Translation: Hide your age and hide your experience.
Really? With all the push to be our authentic selves, to view others as individuals, we’re supposed to tone down a significant part of our identity. And why deny experience that is, or should be, a benefit to the job?
One of the perks of having been alive a number of decades is a nice cache of memories from which to draw life lessons. You’ve probably dealt with a variety of problems and have seen solutions that work and those that crash. Perhaps you’ve been to a hundred or more weddings, charity galas and fundraisers, and know how important traffic flow and placement of the bar are to a successful event. Or maybe you’ve been confronted with hateful communications, and know that it’s better to wait a beat and craft a response than it is to blurt out something that will haunt you later.
It should go without saying that people with talent can apply those talents, along with their work and life experiences, to whatever you throw at them. Forget old dogs and new tricks. Smart people can keep learning no matter what their ages are.
Here’s a tip, old friend: choose your employer wisely. A worthwhile one will value those dates on your resume. Employees will be from a variety of age groups, and everyone will be given the same or analogous opportunities. By all means, if you think the foosball table in the conference room is stupid, don’t work there. But remember, wisdom is not one generation’s sole domain. Young people have it too. You could learn a lot from those whippersnapper colleagues.
And if you can’t find a professional group or mentorship program that suits you, make a group or find a mentor yourself. You know you’re capable.