CareerQuest Newsletter
The Thriving Older Workers

May 2008
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

At CareerQuest there has been a surge of inquiries and counseling sessions for people in the 40-60 age group. The most requested article from the CareerQuest Newsletter archive of the past several years is How to Find a Job After Age 50: Do's & Dont's. Even people in the younger age group have given a copy of this article to their relatives and friends. Something has touched a nerve! We are reproducing this article again in this issue for the benefit of those who missed it.

It may come as no surprise to you that the reasons why older workers have jobs are many. For example:
  • They show up on time, ready to work.
  • Have less sick days, contrary to myth.
  • Call ahead if they are going to be late or absent.
  • Arrange coverage for their jobs as needed.
  • Don't entertain friends in their place of business.
  • Don't spend their time making personal phone calls.
  • They clean up after themselves.
  • They dress in a professional manner.
  • Overall attitude is more service-oriented than their younger counterparts.
  • Older workers bring a lifetime of experience to the job.
  • They require little or no education and training.
CareerQuest presented its second Interactive Teleseminar with Career Doctor Don on Tuesday, April 29, 2008. The timely topic was The Secrets to Surviving in Today's Job Market. Two identical one-hour sessions were scheduled for 12:00pm and 8:00pm, EST.

Until we meet again through the magic of e-mail, keep your feedback coming.

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.), PE
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

How to Find a Job After Age 50: Do's & Don'ts
(Yes, Virginia, You Can Find a Job after Age 50!)


"The essence of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm." - Aldous Huxley

The greatest teacher of all time said that wisdom lives in a little child. Did He not say, "Except ye become as a little child, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." What Jesus probably had in mind when he uttered that statement was that a child never loses that sense of wonder and mystery in life.

What do these philosophical statements have to do with job hunting? Frankly, quite a lot!

Inspirational Cases

John E., in my neighboring office, is a robust 88-year-old architect. He is my inspiration. John is a survivor of Pearl Harbor and a World War II veteran. He has four grown children, all in the medical profession. He puts in 8-10-hour days, every day, because he loves what he is doing. He discovered it very early in life. He is a great architect, and people are willing to wait weeks or months for his innovative plans. He tells me that when he puts the chisel-point pencil to the drawing paper his creative juices flow every morning. He takes good care of himself through diet and exercise, has a strong religious faith, and does not hate or bear a grudge against anybody. Any question about his secret of success in work and life?

 When my wife, Elizabeth, was at college in her 20's, several years ago, she had a perky Filipino woman in her classes, Angela P., who was 72 years old and also pursuing her bachelor's degree. Angela rubbed shoulders with the 20-somethings and did not want to be treated any differently. Her attitude was marvelous! I had the privilege of meeting her, and noticed that, because of her non-judgmental, non-interfering and friendly nature, her classmates treated her like a dear friend, and not like their mother. This left an indelible impression on me. Do you think a person with Angela's attitude would have trouble in finding a job? I don't think so.
...Attitude, Attitude and Attitude...
Tom V. was 75, and he traveled with me from Northern New Jersey to Philadelphia by Amtrak train for seven years to his job. He was an expert in the shipping business and his boss begged him to stay, not to retire. It was not just his technical skill as a marine engineer. He had a youthful exuberance and ability to get along with people of all races, young and old. He formally retired at age 60, but they asked him back into service at age 62. Isn't that terrific!

The CEO of a company I am acquainted with, Jeanne Z., was born and raised in Europe. A medical doctor, he came to the United States in his early 30's. He is 82, now. At 62 he quit his medical practice and started a new company from gound zero, manufacturing medical devices. At 80, he sold the company for $300M, and founded a not-for-profit organization for medical research. Absolutely amazing!

What am I saying here? The three most important attributes in job search after age 50 are Attitude, Attitude and Attitude. It automatically shapes behavior. Everything else comes second to a positive and optimistic attitude. Enthusiasm makes the difference!

What's In It For Me (WIIFM)

Preparing and presenting yourself properly is key in the job search battle. Remember the following 30 tips: 
  1. Most of the time, people over age 50 already have the experience which is in demand.
  2. Enhance your experience by projecting youthful energy. It is not that difficult to do!
  3. Get the advice of an image consultant.
  4. Obtain unbiased on-camera feedback.
  5. Limit your résumé to the last 10-15 years experience.
  6. Leave out graduation dates and personal information from your résumé. Why prevent yourself from being invited for an interview? You can always make a convincing case for hiring you when you see the interviewer in person.
  7. Accept a contract position, if necessary, to prove yourself.
  8. Project a charisma that you will contribute and learn and grow - a lifelong learner.
  9. Take relevant courses to update your skills, even if it means using your own time and money.
  10. Beware of talking about the good old days. That will be your death knell!
  11. If you are labeled as overqualified, tell the employer confidently that you can, "hit the ground running, doing the work of 2-3 people, in the shortest possible time, and bring credit to his/her placement."
  12. While negotiating higher compensation, tell the interviewer that they "will get the biggest bang for their buck because of the multiple talents you have to offer, and the lack of a learning curve".
  13. It is better to under promise and over deliver, instead of the other way around.
  14. Don't be a cop-out and hide behind age discrimination. It may be salary discrimination because the company truly cannot afford you without causing discontent within their ranks.
  15. Rely more on networking (professional friendship development) and the telephone than on résumés.
  16. Preparing and presenting yourself properly is key in the job search battle.
  17. Focus more on smaller companies.
  18. Patience is a virtue, because the job search may take twice as long as expected.
  19. Keep up-to-date on technology and industry jargon in your field; project computer literacy.
  20. Take your transferable skills and sell them in another growing industry if necessary.
  21. Dress appropriately for the company audience. Yield on the conservative side in some cases, and the contemporary in others.
  22. If you feel comfortable, dye your hair to your previous natural color or wear a high-quality wig. Wear contact lenses instead of glasses, if you can. Perhaps it will improve your interview performance because of higher self-image and self-esteem.
  23. Dispel the myth that older workers are sickly by mentioning activities like mountain climbing, hiking, etc.
  24. Learn to respect the feelings and opinions of younger workers, especially your supervisors. Tell them you will boost their professional standing within their company by doing a good job for them without being a threat to them.
  25. Join professional associations and be proactive.
  26. Volunteer in select organizations.
  27. Get career coaching to minimize the scratchy elements of your personality.
  28. Try to keep your weight under reasonable control, using whatever method suits you. Yes, there is discrimination against obese people, who are perceived as out of control.
  30. Minimize the wrinkles on your face and bags under the eyes, failing this, a charming smile will cover a multitude of sins.
  31. It is important to remember people's names. If you don't, it shows a lack of interest in them. A person's name is the sweetest sound in the English language to him or her. Ask the correct pronunciation of their first and last names and make sure you repeat their first name frequently during all conversations.
  32. Tap into your spiritual experiences so that you can give something to people, other than eight hours on the job. Rejoice with people in their good fortunes and mourn with them in their sorrows; in other words, be an encourager.

Several prominent executive recruiters have told me in confidence that modern day white-collar professionals are being discriminated against much more based on age rather than race! I say, "So what?" Age discrimination has always existed in modern society, though much less so in Eastern countries.

African culture, for example, recognizes the fact that older people have a lot of knowledge to share with younger generations. There is an old African saying that when an old man or woman dies, the village loses a library, because of the wealth of knowledge and information that they were able to share.

People will admire you when you break the paradigm and "step out of the box". Which side do you want to be on, the winners or the losers?

Live your life and forget your age!

Words to Inspire You
TALK HAPPINESS. The world is sad enough
Without your woes. No path is wholly rough;
Look for the places that are smooth and clear.
And speak of those, to rest the weary ear
Of Earth, so hurt by one continuous strain
Of human discontent and grief and pain.

TALK FAITH. The world is better off without
Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.
If you have faith in God, or man, or self,
Say so. If not, push back upon the shelf
Of silence all your thoughts, till faith shall come;
No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.

TALK HEALTH. The dreary, ever-changing tale
Of mortal maladies is worn and stale.
You cannot charm, or interest or please
By harping on that minor chord, disease.
Say you are well, or all is well with you,
And God shall hear your words and make them true.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(My father, Phiroz Sutaria's favorite poet.)

Don Sutaria is Founder and President of CareerQuest (formerly New Life Career Counseling), located in New York and New Jersey. CareerQuest is also mentioned in "What Color is Your Parachute?" Sutaria is a consultant to individuals and various corporations, offering executive coaching and career management services. He has developed unique methods for capturing jobs in the new millennium. He appeared on a Phil Donahue TV special on unorthodox methods of job hunting. Known as "Career Doctor Don", he has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Star-Ledger, The Union Leader, WorkingSmart, SmartMoney, Fortune, Money, and on WINS and WOR radio. He specializes in counseling of international professionals, Generation X (age 20-29), career changers, freelancers, consultants, mid-career executives and people over age 50. He really believes that your career is a pathway to your soul.

Mr. Sutaria has over forty years of diversified industrial and management experience, complemented by training in career development and hands-on experience in career advising. He is an international cross-cultural trainer. He has also served on committees of several organizations, and conducted courses, seminars and symposiums at Columbia University, New York University, Nyack College, Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, Rutgers, and Stevens Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Association of Career Professionals International and the Career Counselors Consortium.

Don earned his MS degree in Management from Kansas State University, an IE (Professional) degree in International Management and Personnel Relations from Columbia University, and obtained New York University's postgraduate Certificate in Adult Career Planning and Development.

Don Sutaria is the author of 
Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is A Pathway To Your Soul!) due to be published in 2008.