Members of my generation were raised to believe that if you got a good education and exhibited skill and success in your work experiences, security and success would follow you into the later years of your life. Frankly, for many people like myself over 50 or nearing that age, the American Dream is all but dead and buried for us.
It is irrelevant that we possess a high-quality education with a graduate degree that included honors along the way. Our vast real-world experience performing multiple facets on our career paths, along with being successful trainers, managers and leaders in our areas of expertise, means little.
Certainly our detailed resumes may create some interest from potential employers. Unfortunately, perhaps due to their fear, very few of us are given an opportunity to show what we can bring to these employers. Too often many of us know within the first few minutes – by the way they look at our gray hair, ask us irrelevant questions regarding our health, or even how many grandchildren we have – that we have been written off as too “old” to fit into their bias of what their ideal job candidate is.
An interviewer may compliment that you have better skills and experience than he does, which we’ve learned is a guaranteed sign your application will be shredded as soon as you leave.
Yet most of us find some form of employment to maintain a level of our dignity. We were raised to take pride in our work in any job we accepted and to always be successful at whatever task is given, regardless of the pay received. Unfortunately, these jobs are usually with companies that offer no benefits, spout unfulfilled promises and turn over employees as often as others fill up their gas tanks. Normally this occurs as soon as they’ve found someone to do it for a few pennies less.
Members of my generation get offered positions that want access to our family, friends and professional contacts, not to offer us a career path, but to use our experience for their benefit only. All this to be downsized, then abusively dragged through the mud when we suffer the indignity of applying for unemployment benefits.
Yet we continue on – scanning job sites, emailing uncountable resumes and burning up our time, resources and pride in the hopes that maybe there’s one legitimate opportunity just around the corner. We leave no stone unturned, no potential opportunity unexplored. Like our parents taught us, we do not surrender to the discrimination our age brings forth, or accept the notion that we do not have a great deal to offer the right employer who recognizes our true worth.
We have the education. We have the skills. We have the experience. We have the desire to successfully perform any task we’ve applied for. All we need is an employer to give us a sincere opportunity to become a valued asset to his organization.
We only expect a real opportunity that meets our needs as well as our employer’s. We only ask to be treated fairly. Pay us a fair wage for the value we add to the company. Provide basic benefits so we can be healthy and achieve our full potential for your company for years to come. But do not mislead, cheat and use us for quick personal gain, then quickly discard us. Trust in us, you will not regret it. Then, maybe some of us will believe the American Dream still exists.