Admit it, the big "O" stimulates quite a reaction

You clicked to read about your idol Oprah, didn’t you? No, expecting some other big “O” content… Well, then you’re on the wrong website, buster!

Badge of honor, source of pleasure, reason for pride, satisfaction to scream about or maybe just something to accept quietly and celebrate contently in your own mind. The big O in all of its glory. Whether solo, with a best buddy or as a group, it’s something we’ll all experience - if we’re lucky to last that long.

What, you’re not there yet? Sorry, probably better to slowly strip it down, step by step…

Step 1: some scientific biology-type stuff happens – they mentioned it in that uncomfortable junior high health class, remember?

Step 2.0: you show up; Step 2.1: you grow up; Step 2.2: you get a JOB “work for the man” and hopefully earn a few bucks along the way; it’s all very exciting so far, right?

Step 3: just when it gets interesting, weird sensations start happening with your body – you feel sharp mentally and for sure you’ve got it going on where it counts. You’ve got game. You and your kind rule this world. You’ve got mad skills, beaucoup experience and life lessons galore. Wham, bam, bring it on, ma’am!

Step 4.0: while you’re livin’ large, being all that and bag of cheesy-poofs, guess what shows up? Step 4.1: Reality - wrinkles, unpredictable vision and other essential functionality mysteriously going awry, new gray hair where it doesn’t belong and missing hair where it does belong.

Step 5.0: other people who haven’t “been there, done that” yet with step three think you’re “so last generation.” Step 5.1: it’s their turn now and it’s full speed ahead to obsolescence-ville for you.

Step 6: dorky bloggers and mass media perpetuate outrageously idiotic stereotypes warning about the side-effects of big O disease. Out of touch with technology, out of date with current trends and just whatever it is that’s “out” and not “in” – that’s that, no snuggling, no cuddling, no love. Buh, bye… don’t let the door hit your sagging ass on the way out.

Don’t worry, as long you remain (happily or unhappily) employed, use sunscreen, have a decent hair colorist, and don’t have a wardrobe from anywhere ending with “mart” you might have some immunity. But if not, look out! When anyone perceives that you have these big O conditions or you officially become O-L-D, ain’t gonna be no sexy time no more.

If you’re still reading, you may be wondering what the what!?! Or, perhaps you agree that we’ve been exposed to far too many articles about multiple generations in the workplace and all of the goofy descriptions of each. In order to avoid more of the same drivel, my attempt at levity was intended to stimulate a stripped down real discussion about the serious implications related to the above issue.

Stereotypes aside, bias, perceptions and prejudice remain alive and well in the recruiting world. Whether it is one of the many legislated “protected” categories or assorted other traits that secretly stand out, one that the general public believes is the most problematic – especially over the past 5+ years – is ageism.

Have you been hit with the big O? Either way, please share thoughts, experiences and opinions. If you’d prefer to keep your O issues private, I’d still like to have your input and will absolutely respect confidentiality of anyone that would rather not post in the public forum. 

Views: 413

Comment by Recruiting Animal on March 17, 2013 at 6:40pm

Here's the Animal Chat we had on Friday. Guest Host Mark Salke focused on middle aged unemployed workers. The hottest debate came after it was over and I don't know if it was all captured.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 17, 2013 at 8:50pm

Thanks, Animal! I appreciate the background info & link to the #AnimalChat transcript. Hopefully, the participants will chime in here and expand upon their twitter conversations. Happy St. Patty's Day ~KB @TalentTalks 

Comment by Maureen Sharib on March 18, 2013 at 9:58am

It's funny how two sides can react (so differently) to this kind of news.

The Recruiter Side

The Candidate Side  <- I spent an hour looking for it.  The article appeared on a site that jobseekers read and man!  Did they ever take offense and let me have it!  If anyone can find it I'd appreciate you'd posting the beating I took...

and then there are the recruiters in denial...

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 18, 2013 at 12:24pm
I started not to post anything on the topic of the "big O" because frankly I'm bored with it. I'm bored with people trying to pretend that age doesn't make a difference, good or bad. There are both ends of that spectrum. I'm bored with people who are in their late 40's or early 50's asking me if their age is going to hurt them. Cripes I have kds that age. I'm bored with getting resumes that go back to 1995 with no date of education with the first job reflected being VP of Business development. Do you really think anybody is going to think lightening struck a tree and you stepped out as a VP of anything? If it bothers you why do you think anybody would hire somebody who is so worried about their age they are dumb enough to think that anybody who looked at that resume would not know that a. You are paranoid about your age and B. they don't know whether you are 50 or 70 so rather than risk a discrimination complaint, they trash the resume.

The question is, are you too old for this crap? Where that came from? Yesterday around five the sky got dark, my horses were out, I checked the weather and discovered we were suddenly without much warning under a severe thunderstorm alert. What that might mean in the Texas panhandle in the spring is driving rain, baseball size hail and straight line winds of 50 miles an hour or even a tornado. A couple of my horses are too old for that crap so I threw on jeans, jumped in the truck nd set a land speed record to the country. As I pulled up at the barn, the wind kicked up, it was starting to rain but the dirt was blowing so hard it was raining mud, I couldn't see my horses who were running in circles 20 feet in front of me. Too much dirt. I have two high school football players who help me with this band of lunatic horses but they were no place to be seen. Out of the truck into the dirt, gather up the lunatics, close the barn, turn on the hose and fire water in the air to settle the dust storm inside the barn. That over with, I fell in a chair and thought...where are those kids...I'm too old for this crap.

I started laughing, I had read Kelly's post earlier so I guess it was on my mind. Could I get this mess fixed, sure, I did. Did I want to, of course not. It had to be done. Am I too old for this crap, yeppers that is why God made high school boys.

So what does all that have to do with older workers? There are some situations where a lot of us are "too old for this crap". We've done it, we can do it, we will if we have to. Take a situation of a direct sales team, managed by a realitively young and inexperienced supervisor who doesn't know squat about about managing a sales team except to stay on their tail about making calls and coming to daily meetings. Is that a good place for somebody in their late 40's or early 50's with 20 years of sales experience? I don't think so, I've seen some do it because they need a job. In about 8 months they hit my office and as they get into telling me why they are looking it normally comes out of their mouth. "I'm too old for this silly crap".

I normally smile with an understanding of exactly what they mean. I think I may be too old for a lot of this crap about being old. It is what it is. There are a lot of situations where people are either too young and inexperienced or too old for this crap. How about we learn the difference and look at age, experience and find the right, age/experience appropriate spot instead of trying to be something we are not. Sometimes it makes a difference and sometimes it doesn't.

I still wear 4 inch heels some of my peers tell me they are too old for that crap.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 18, 2013 at 2:07pm

I am either 38 or 39 - I forget from time to time and none of my kids are around to tell me. Whatever. Pretty young by many standards, old enough to have a kid in college and a couple of stepkids getting married and having babies. WTF.

On a good day when I put some effort into it, I can pass for 25. I don't know if this is a blessing or a curse some days but it cracks me up when my 18 yr old daughter is mistaken for my sister. She hates it. She won't when she's either 38 or 39. (38. Add 20 to Kim's age. I remember now).

Here's my point (finally). I am on the other side of ageism. Some professionals in my field consider me "too young" for a senior or management level job because I can't be a day over 30... right? Even though my resume goes back far enough and I managed staffing agencies in my late 20s. Of course that's assuming they look at my resume.

Everybody faces some kind of "ism". Pretty people, ugly people, tall people, short people, young people, old people. And a whole host of other isms. I don't have any kind of advice for anyone today, just wanted to say it's not so rosy on this side of the equation either. :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 18, 2013 at 2:23pm

And the point is that everybody is an individual with a unique background, appearance, energy level,ability and blah , blah.  and fair is a kidergarten word so let's all go to work and quit worrying about the isms.

Comment by Will Thomson on March 18, 2013 at 3:00pm

@ Amy- you just made my day.  That was awesome!

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 18, 2013 at 6:05pm

@Maureen - I remember those articles. It is a volatile topic for sure! Thanks for sharing. 

@Sandra - I'm bored w/ it too have been reluctant to even write about it. Like Maureen, I rec'd some nasty comments when I posted some plain-old facts about this tired topic on a few LI discussions in the past. There's only so much "victimization" mentality I can take and practically all of the generational stereotypes are complete CRAP that gets everyone (all sides) worked into to a paranoid tizzy over. Yes, isms are everywhere, but it's pointless to obsess over the stupidity of others that aren't going to change their discriminatory ways - it's been proven that boatloads of laws don't fix it. Life isn't fair and some people just need to grow a pair. 

I agree, we reach a point of being "too old for this crap" In may case, my tolerance for BS & a-holes seems to decrease with age. Oh, I can't stand most music by people named Britney, Justin, Katy, Gaga or any of that genre, so I guess that proves I'm not hip. 

@Amy - Usually, it's just my husband that forgets, but recently someone asked us how long we had been married and I drew a blank too & had to do some math. Here was one of my big O moments: Back when I was about a month and half away from being two years older than you are now (more math), I was interviewing an early 20s candidate that mentioned that they had lived in several countries growing up. I asked which was their favorite and if they would want to live there again and they said: "maybe when I'm older, like 40." Ouch! 

Here's an "ism" article I wrote about 4 years ago - the best part (ironic now) is seeing who I referred to as "role models" about overcoming obstacles.

Thanks for the comments, all! 

~KB @TalentTalks 


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