Old people know how to do stuff.

Last week, I started a new job after searching and interviewing for many months, for many positions and across a number of different fields. As sometimes happens, life was on my side, and I landed up in a job that not only uses some of my more marketable skills, but it also crosses paths with ideas I’m passionate about: The environment, health, education, and kids, specifically kids who might be considered at risk.

As with many non-profits, there are a number of players involved from idea through planning, development, funding, staffing and implementation. Again, fortunately, during my first week, I got to sit in on the rare meeting when all players were on hand.  At the conclusion of that meeting, I made a point to meet everyone in the room, at least to shake hands and introduce myself. One of the last individuals I met was about my age, relatively new to her current position and very well-versed in the programs and bureaucracy within her own government organization. And her first words to me? “I’m so glad they hired an old person who knows how to do stuff.”

“Ah…thanks?!”

And that’s the lesson. It’s challenging looking for a job in your 50s, especially when you wear your age quite literally on your head, as I do. I’ve never felt as old as I have when interviewing with managers who could easily be my children. And, where on earth are those people who are my age? I rarely see them in the workforce. And they’re certainly not the ones interviewing me (at least not usually).

But something really beneficial comes with all those years, and that, believe or not, is the knowledge of how to do stuff. And the knowledge that if we don’t know how to do stuff, we can certainly figure it out, unless it’s neurosurgery or rocket science, and I don’t really want the stress of either of those fields at this point in my life.

Lead with your age, your knowledge, and all that stuff you can do. For crying out loud, what do we have to lose?

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