I was “right-sized” by one of the majors. Truth is, I took a package I could not resist but I was told I could have stayed in my job. I just knew it was time to move on – to try something new - and the “package” was so good that it gave me the financial cushion and the courage to leave my job and look for another one. No non-compete or non-solicitation to hinder my search - just me, with lots of energy and relationships that I would like to share with another company.
Problem is, I get through one interview and then I rarely get to Step 2 and never to Interview 3. I think it's my age - I'm a young looking 58, but that doesn’t always mean I can fool the interviewer. They can tell how old I am. So what’s the deal with ageism and how do I get around it? If I knew things were going to be this hard, I may have stayed where I was. With inflation and maybe a recession coming I cannot afford to be without work, what can I do?
Too Young to Age Out
Dear Baby Face,
In our industry I rarely see ageism. Look at the leadership in our associations and publications. There’s certainly no ageism there. Truth is that a sales rep is only as good as your current relationships and from the prospective employers point of view it is less about you and more about whether the relationships are “relevant” to the job they are offering. If you are friends with interior designers and specifiers that are about to retire, your once relevant relationships may not be relevant anymore. Keep yourself marketable by keeping your current relationships fresh and by continuing to make new relationships.
Here is a tip: During the interview never tell the manager who is interviewing you that you are looking for a company and a job that can be your “home” or “your last home." You are setting yourself up in their mind that you are ready to retire. You are implying that you want to 'cruise' into the sunset for the next 10 years.
The average age of salespeople we place is 55 to 62, not so young. Our clients want experience. They also want a bargain and sometimes experienced workers like yourself price yourself out of the market and blame it on age. If you took a nice package, no one cares what you made last, because now you are making ZERO. Sometimes people who have taken packages from manufacturers do not want to go to dealers. Some dealers make great workplaces so don’t let our industry's “snobbishness” keep you from an attractive opportunity.
Last but not least I see with my own eyes plenty of companies that could care less how old you are. They simply want good people - so send them your resume. There are too many to name but some that come to mind are Allermuir, Senator, OFS, and other companies that are family owned like Global, Teknion, Haworth and, of course the big names like MillerKnoll and Steelcase are consistently ranked among the best places to work in America. Age is not an issue. Virtually everyone is an equal opportunity employer.
So, re-think why you may be having a hard time:Money? Too picky? Stale relationships or not great references?
Then speak to your references and former bosses and see what you can do to make a better impression. Ask a spouse or friend to role play the interview. Chances are it is not your age. And I can tell you that, for sure, The Viscusi Group would love a copy of your resume.