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May 4, 2021

How Not To Become Obsolete In A Digital Era

It’s no secret that youth is highly valued in today’s world. Because this trend extends to the workplace where age discrimination is rife, workers over the age of 50 or even 40 start to worry that they’ll become irrelevant. With technology featuring prominently in most types of work, there is even more fear that mature people won’t be able to keep up. 

The truth is that lifelong learning is a requirement for anyone looking to succeed in today’s job market. With increasing digitization, much of that learning will include technology. Things were already changing rapidly, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made digital skills even more important. Workers who have a vast skill set will be much more valuable to companies. 

If you’re a mature worker, you may be concerned even if you don’t consider yourself a technophobe. Here are some ways in which you can stay current and continue to be an asset to current and prospective employers. 

Be Willing to Go Out of Our Comfort Zone

Trying new things is key. Not only does it make you more indispensable to your employer, but it’s important for your own growth. Be sure to dedicate time to sharpening your existing skills and learning new things. In this digital era, skills like coding, digital marketing, and data analysis are particularly valuable. However, learning another language could also give you an edge. You may also need to change the way you use social media. Mature employees are less likely to use social media for work, but sites like LinkedIn are great for networking. 

Mentor (But Also Find a Sponsor)

You’ve no doubt accumulated lots of life experience and on-the-job know-how. Make a point of passing it on to younger, less experienced workers, whether formally or informally. This is an excellent way to ensure that you continue to contribute to the organization. Both your mentees and your superiors are likely to take notice. However, you should also be looking for a sponsor. This is someone who has both the willingness and ability to create career opportunities for you. 

Ask Your Company’s HR Department About Training

Sometimes companies focus on recruiting new talent and forget about upskilling current employees. Mature workers are especially likely to be overlooked since human resources practitioners assume they aren’t interested or they’re on the way to retirement. If you believe you could benefit from training, you should reach out to the HR team. 

Know and Your Value and How to Assert It

Whether you receive on-the-job training or you seek out new learning opportunities on your own, make sure that your managers and supervisors know what you have to offer. Keep them informed about things you’ve accomplished on the job or even in the community if it’s relevant to your position and overall value. Don’t wait for someone to ask you if you’ve gained any new qualifications or learned any new skills. It’s unfortunate, but some people believe that 50-plus employees are either unwilling or incapable of learning new things. Prove them wrong. 

Establish Your Personal Brand

The idea that an individual could be a brand is relatively new. The term has been around since 1997, but it has arguably only picked up steam in the last several years. Your personal brand is simply what you want to be known for. When you leverage your personal brand, people will come to see you as a key resource in your chosen area. The author of “The Future of Work”, Jason Morgan, suggests selecting an area that’s “narrow enough to be distinctive but broad enough to give you breathing space.” Maybe you’re a thought leader on the topic of women in tech, or you have something unique to say about customer service. Whatever it is, it can help to give you an edge. 

Be Open to Changing Careers

You may prefer to stay at your current workplace and in your current field. However, if you get laid off or you’re forced to retire from one job, you should consider pivoting. If you’ve been networking and updating your skills, it’ll be easier to transition to a new phase. Even if you’re 50 or over, you may still have a decade or more left to work. If one organization doesn’t value you, you can still find employment elsewhere. 

The Bottomline

Getting and keeping a job can be more difficult if you’re 50 or over. However, you can maintain professional relevance if you engage in lifelong learning and you develop the skills the market demands. You may also find that you have to educate employers about the benefits of hiring and retaining mature employees. That’s where WiseForce Advisors comes in. We help companies to recognize the value of mature workers and provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to leverage an aging workforce. Get in touch with us at info@wiseforceadvisors.com to learn more