It’s not always easy to be an older person in a young office. At 53 I personally feel like I am in the middle of the pack. There are plenty of people more senior than me from whom I gain knowledge, and yet the younger folk keep on coming, demonstrating the many ways I struggle to keep up with the world.
You may also feel out of place socially, or out of your depth technologically. But there’s no need for you to be totally uncomfortable. You’ve still got plenty to offer your company and your colleagues. You may have to work hard to stay relevant, but employees at every level are expected to grow. The only thing holding you back is you. And you still need to position yourself for long-term success, because you may be working for a while.
Here are tips on how to stay competitive in the workforce, maximizing what you’ve got and even expanding your skills:
1. Apply Your Experience
Time is the most valuable commodity, and you’ve had more of it in your industry. Along the way, you’ve picked up skills others only wish they had. They may pick up certain technological processes better, but don’t discount the value of your experience. Make sure, however, that you share it. You’ll make yourself more vital to your office than ever.
2. Exercise Your Brain
Remember, age is just a number. You can do a great deal to keep yourself young and fresh. A great way to stay sharp is to exercise your brain every day. Do a crossword puzzle or a Sudoku. Get a booklet of brainteasers. And remember to get physical exercise and sleep, too! It’s an investment in yourself that will absolutely pay dividends. You’ll become more adaptable to new things and better able to face new challenges.
3. Be a Culture Master
Make yourself an indispensible culture maker inside your company. An employee who embraces the culture leadership wants is worth their weight in gold. Live your company’s core values, and help others do the same. And don’t forget about popular culture, either. The standard is low, so demonstrating even a little bit of knowledge of pop culture will be very impressive to your colleagues. People will think you’re hip to the latest trends, rather than fearing you’ll break a hip.
4. Don’t Be Intimidated – or Stubborn
Have some confidence! You’ve been doing this successfully for longer than some of these kids have been alive. You’ve learned valuable lessons, have a full set of tools you’ve mastered, and are connected to an impressive network. At the same time, just because you’re more of an expert doesn’t mean you can go on as you’ve always done. You need to be open to new processes, people, and technologies, or else people will come to think of you as the cranky older person. Don’t look at new skills and assume you’re too old to learn them. Instead, remember that the new skills are easy enough that even your inexperienced colleagues can do them!
5. Don’t Be Lazy!
You need to be your own best advocate. Young employees are often told to hustle to make their mark – but you should be hustling just as much. If you want to get reinvigorated, treat every day like it’s a tryout. Recognize what you need to improve, and be proactive about it. Make yourself a how-to guide on that computer trick your colleague taught you. See if you can teach it to another older person in the office. The best way to learn is to teach, after all. If you have a question, look it up! There’s nothing the internet can’t explain, and there are tons of helpful how-to videos out there. Most of all, practice!