Looking for a new job when you’re 50+

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Looking for a new job when you’re 50+ can feel daunting, but age should not be a barrier to career success. Listen in this week as we talk about ageism in the workforce and how to overcome limiting beliefs about age in job searches and career changes. Learn how to double down on your strengths, be confident in who you are, and approach new challenges with a mindset of self-confidence. Listen and learn.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman. I worked almost 12 years at Amazon and saw so many brilliant and successful overachievers burn themselves out and leave their jobs because they’re so stressed and anxious. But guess what? Having a successful career does not have to be at the expense of your mental sanity and personal time. There’s an easier way, and I can show you how. Let’s do this.

Hey y’all, all right, I love me a good show to binge-watch, and I found one recently that I really kind of got sucked into. Now, I will warn you, this is in the genre of like Pitch Perfect, it’s that type of show, which I love. It’s not heavy, it’s not dark, it’s not deep. There’s plenty of them for me to binge to get a couple of weeks’ worth of content out of it. Makes me laugh, it’s light, it’s a little bit silly, and not possible. I loved it. So, the series that I watched was called “Younger.” I think I watched it on Paramount Plus, I don’t actually know, but if that’s the type of show you like, I highly recommend it. The premise of it was interesting, and it’s actually what I want to talk about on today’s podcast.

So, the pilot episode starts out with this woman who’s getting divorced, and her child is going away to college, and she’s going back into the workforce. Before she left to take care of her kid full-time, she worked in editing or publishing, kind of in that sort of world. So, as she’s trying to go out and get a job, she’s really having a hard time getting a job because she’s too old, and they want someone younger and more current. Or, they tell her that she’s overqualified for these jobs she’s applying for, plus she has this gap in her resume. And she goes out to a bar that night with some friends or something, and some younger guy hits on her, and her friend tells her, “Well, you do look a lot younger. You could pass for a lot younger.” So, the whole series is about this woman who’s actually in her 40s, which is not old. I am in that category, and I don’t feel old. But about this woman who’s in her 40s, and she lies and says that she’s like 27, 28, and she gets hired on as this younger person. And the whole series is about, you know, if people find out and all the ups and downs that go along with it.

So, I’m not a proponent of lying, but it’s this interesting concept and something I hear quite frequently for many of you around, “I’m too old to fill in the blank, change careers, get a new job, find a job in today’s job market.” Okay, and I want to talk about this today head-on. I’ve talked to a lot of people recently who are very concerned about their age. I don’t know their exact age, but they’re usually people 50 and older, and they have these limiting beliefs around like, “No one wants to hire me. I’m too old. They’re not going to want to hire me because they think I’m just going to, like, cruise into retirement for the next 10, 12, 13 years. They don’t want me, the old person. They want someone younger that’s more current, that’s hungrier to climb the corporate ladder that they can pay less.” Right? These are the beliefs.

And at first, I always kind of laugh because the other side of that coin that I often hear as well, for many of you leaders that are frustrated with the younger people out there, there is the limiting beliefs of people these days. They just don’t know how to work, and they don’t want to work. They want to get promoted for simply doing their job. They need their handheld. They can’t take feedback. They’re not resilient. So, I just think it’s funny how our brain believes both of these things, and I’m like, “What? Okay, so what’s the ideal age? 32? Do we just think we peak in our career at 32?” No, logically, this is crazy.

But what I don’t recommend doing, if you find yourself in this situation where you truly believe you’re at a disadvantage because you’re older, I don’t recommend telling yourself it’s fine and it’s okay and it’s not a problem. Go back and listen to the episode I just published about your brain would rather be right than feel good. But if that’s what you’re trying to tell your brain, you don’t believe that. You genuinely believe, and probably have multiple examples and dozens of other people that would back up this belief of, “I am at a disadvantage because I am older.” So, if that’s what you believe, you can’t lie to yourself in this situation. You’re not going to fake it till you make it because your brain is purposely out there scanning and looking for proof that this is true, and it will find it. But you can also tell your brain other things and help it go find evidence of that. So, we’re going to put that on hold for a second. I’m going to come back to this belief that a lot of you have around, “It’s hard to find a job or change jobs or switch careers when you’re older in your career.”

I also believe your weaknesses are simply your strengths overused. Look at people who have a really strong bias for action and ownership. They’re volunteering for things, they’re getting a lot of things done. This is a strength. They’re not the ones that say, “This isn’t my job.” They can figure lots of things out. They’re able to overcome a lot of obstacles and deliver awesome, great things. That strength, overused, becomes burnout. They tend to have perfectionist qualities. You have a lot of resentment because you keep thinking, “Why can no one else do this? Why am I always the one doing it?” Right? Your strengths, overused, become your weaknesses.

At the same time, if that is true. So, if we think about this in terms of, you believe a weakness of yours is your age, I want you to think of this as, no, this is simply a strength you’re underusing. So, here’s what I tell most people that come to me really worried about finding a job or making a career change in their 50s-plus. I tell them, go all in on you. Like, double down on who you are. Be that amazing 50-year-old. Okay, and stay with me here. I’m going to tell you what I mean by this.

Go all in on who you are. Get really clear on that and have so much self-confidence behind it. It’s things like, you’re agile, you’re able to work independently, you work hard, you know what your best learning style is. You also know how to learn new skills. You also know how to play hard, and you have a thriving life outside of work that you are dedicated to. So, you want to be very focused and driven at work so you can continue to be focused and driven outside of work. Who you are is the kind of person that’s looking for a company that wants to support them in the long game. Side note, did you know the average employee at a lot of these big tech companies stays less than two years? It’s very expensive to companies to have to train and rehire people. You’re in it for the long game.

You’re telling yourself, “Oh, they’re not going to want to hire me because I’m just going to come in and coast to retirement.” Companies would be thrilled if you’re going to stay past two years, trust me. No matter your age, if you’re not meeting performance expectations, they will manage you out. But if you are, they want you to stay. They want you to be in it for the long game. Know who you are and double down on that, which also means you’ve got to know who are you not.

You’re not the kind of person that’s looking to get promoted easily simply for doing your job. You’re not the person that needs extreme details and guidance to be able to go and deliver on your job. You’re not the kind of person that needs a lot of check-in and handholding and good jobs and gold stars along the way. You’re also not the kind of person that freaks out when the company reorgs. Again, you’re comfortable with change. You know how to deal with it. You’re also not the kind of employee that’s only in it just for you. You’re not the one to say, “That’s not my job.” You’re the one that has healthy boundaries but understands when to go all in and understands the importance of functioning as a team to reach a common goal. Double down on who you are.

Here’s the other thing I’d offer to you to think about. You are your harshest critic. You are significantly more concerned and worried about your age than the person on the other side, even the person that has a conscious bias against your age. I think of it like, as an adult, I get acne sometimes. I don’t love it, but it happens. But like, the other day, I had this huge zit on my chin, and I was meeting up with some friends, and I go and I meet up with them, and the very first thing out of my mouth is like, “I know I have a giant zit on my chin.” They’re like, “Oh, hey, Lindsay.” They’re like, “Hi.” I honestly probably wouldn’t have even noticed unless you pointed it out, right? It’s like I’m so obsessed with it, it’s all I can think about. I’m just like, “Let me just blurt it out and make it obvious so they know that I know I have this thing on my face.” But I’m the one obsessed with the zit on my chin. They don’t care. They’re like, “Hey, friend, what’s up?” They don’t care what I look like.

The type of company you want to work at is not going to care what your age is. What they’re going to want is someone that can deliver, be agile, be independent, and be a good human along the way. If your strengths overused are your weaknesses, your weaknesses are your strengths underutilized. This is where it’s important to go after finding this new job from a place of self-confidence. Because if this is the first time you’re having to do this, I’m pretty sure you’re not confident in it. Confidence comes from things we’ve delivered, we’ve created, we’ve produced, we’ve done in the past. Confidence comes from years and years and years of experience. I’m sure there are certain things in your job you’re very confident you can go and deliver on. But if this is the first time you’re past your quote-unquote peak at 32, needing to look for a new job, the confidence isn’t going to be there. This is when you’ve got to go all in on self-confidence.

Self-confidence is a belief in your ability to figure it out. It doesn’t mean everybody loves you, it doesn’t mean it goes according to plan, it doesn’t mean it’s not hard. But when you’re truly self-confident, you believe in your ability to figure it out. That’s it. And yeah, when we do things for the first time, it’s hard. This is a new thing. My guess is if you’ve been very good at your job and worked in the same job for a while, you haven’t done as many new things, and you’re not as comfortable being uncomfortable, trying new things. That’s a key part of self-confidence.

I think there’s three main elements that make up self-confidence. The first, you’ve got to learn how do you stop optimizing to other people’s opinions of you and how they feel, particularly your leaders and managers. This can be tricky in a work setting because our managers and leaders can impact our performance review, our promotions, how much we’re getting paid. It’s tricky as well when we’re looking for a new job because we want the recruiter or hiring manager to like us, we want them to give us a job. I’m not saying be jerks, but if we’re trying to control how they feel and sell them on something or spin something a certain way, that’s just a losing game. It’s okay for people to be uncomfortable, it’s okay for them to not like you. My question is, do you like you? If you like you, let other people be wrong about you, let them miss out on that opportunity of hiring you, let them have that conscious or unconscious bias and not give you the job. We don’t want to work with those kind of people.

The second part of building that self-confidence is learning how do you be comfortable being uncomfortable. Remember, we’re believing in our ability to figure it out, not that we have a plan and everything goes according to plan. The more you’re willing to interview with people and try to figure out how do you sell yourself, how do you translate your skills into this new field that you’re wanting to try, the more you’re willing to screw it up and try and not get stuck in the drama of it, the faster you’re going to learn what works and what doesn’t work and get to that end result. But if you don’t know how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, for sure you’re going to play small and just stay stuck and feel bad for yourself because that feels safer.

The third part to building that self-confidence, so you’ve got to get your own back. You’ve got to like you. If you believe your age is a problem, that will prove itself true. But I’m telling you, your age is not a problem to anyone but you. When you like you and you’re going out there and you’re trying to find the right job, you’re trying to find the right company, and you’re willing to do it over and over and over again, guess what? You’re going to figure it out. And it’s not because of your age. It comes down to learning how do you go after this goal from a place of self-confidence.

You guys, this is what I do. I work with people all day, every day on this. If you’re struggling, reach out to me. Click the link in the show notes, go sign up for a coffee chat. My coaching program is very close to being full, so grab a spot if you still can. But there’s nothing wrong with your age. There are companies and people out there that are dying to find someone with your skill set and your strengths and your abilities. They are actively seeking for you. Raise your hand, show up, be willing to feel uncomfortable, let some people be wrong with you, and like you at the end of the day.

All right, y’all, you’re amazing, you got this, we’ll talk soon. If what you’re learning from this podcast is helping, this is just the beginning. Each week, I offer a limited number of coffee chats so that you and I can connect one-on-one and talk specifically about what’s going on for you. You’ll leave this call feeling more hopeful and motivated, but I’m also going to teach you a few things to try right away to get unstuck. Space is very limited and these are free, so grab your spot before they’re gone. Click the link in the show notes or go to lindsaylymancoaching.com/chat and sign up today. You got this.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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