I really don’t know if there are many women like me who would rather stay at home and manage the household rather than work in a corporate world. I had little patience for office politics. Besides, my father instilled in me that entrepreneurship was the way to go and thus with one giant leap of faith I resigned from work at a very young age and went on to set up a business.
By and large, it was a good decision and I found myself able to live comfortably but not without hard work. Several years ago, I started feeling the economic downturn, then sickness came, and some wrong personal and business decisions along the way. It was inevitable, I had to go back to work. There is nothing wrong in going back to work per se but I had major apprehensions. After all, aside from being away from the formal work environment for more than 20 years, I am 50 years old. What challenges and opportunities lie before me now? A lot of both it seems.
1. Age Factor
No matter how much we euphemize the age factor, it will always be a factor at work. Most companies would prefer young employees especially for frontliner positions or for most other positions for that matter. Although age can be an advantage for higher positions that require more experience, the experience should be related to the job position. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
2. Adaptability Factor
It is said that age has a way of cementing behaviors and practices, both good and bad. This is the reason why adaptability can be a major concern for potential employers of middle-aged applicants. Middle-aged people may not be as easy to mold into a company’s desired behavior. Some positions also require physical agility where the young has the obvious advantage.
3. Cost Factor
Some employers are hesitant to hire middle-aged applicants because of the usual higher salary expectation. Again, while many companies are willing to pay for related experience, skill, and expertise, it will not be so merely because of age. This is precisely the reason why some companies offer tenured employees early retirement because it will ultimately cost less to hire and train a new graduate than to pay the salary of a middle-aged employee. Health is also a major consideration here.
1. Stability Factor
An HR Manager once told me that older age is often seen as an advantage by potential employers since older applicants tend be more stable and would think hard before transferring to another company. Young people tend to be more impulsive since they realistically have more options, all things being equal. The most obvious manifestation of this is attendance and punctuality.
2. Decision-Making Factor
Employees who are older in age generally have more patience and better capability in determining possible results of actions than their younger counterparts. Because of being exposed to the realities of life more, they are more adept in practical applications. Of course, there are always exceptions.
3. Determination Factor
Because older new hires are entering the workforce at a “disadvantage”, they tend to work harder to ensure that they are able to cope. This often results to better performance. The key is to make a seeming disadvantage into an advantage.
Tips for Middle-aged Women Reentering the Workforce
1. Focus on what you can offer to the company instead of your age. If you act that your age matters to being chosen, then it probably will to the person interviewing you. Once it is clear that age is not an obstacle, then go for it. Emphasize your accomplishments.
2. Be sure that you are ready to go back to work. Make sure that you are physically fit. Make arrangements for any household concern so you can work in peace and confidence.
3. Do not let being out of the workforce be a reason to stop learning and developing your capabilities and potentials. You will need every skill in your bid to return to work. These are very good items to include in your curriculum vitae.
Reentering the workforce at 50 may be challenging but the sense of accomplishment in succeeding at it is priceless. Do not let your age dictate what you can do. Woman, you are made of tougher stuff to let that happen.