“I want to find a place where I don’t have to work so hard anymore. I’m 6 years from retirement. With my experience, I should be able to get top dollar for my next job.”
Do you see the absolute logical disasters in that statement? He wants to work less, slow down preparing for retirement, and be paid as much as ever. I hear these words at least once a week. They are the prelude to disaster. This guy may get another job, but he will be fired.
No one wants to pay you to relax and take it easy. They want your best effort. They want miracles. If you decide it is time to slow down, then step down too. If not, someone who wants to work hard is going to leave cleat marks up your back. He will run right over you to climb his career ladder. Your boss will cheer him on and give him your chair.
A lot of people complain about age discrimination. There is a fair amount of it. More often the problem is that the young guy is obviously determined to excel. He commits to hard work. His record shows 50, 60 and 70 hour weeks. The older person literally says in an interview, “I’ve learned how to work smart and not hard. I don’t need to put in more than 40 hours a week anymore.” The boss who is putting in 70 hours a week will not believe the old guy can do it. What is worse, often the older guy has a history of declining output.
“In accordance with our principles of free enterprise and healthy competition, I’m going to ask you two to fight to the death for it.” (Monty Python)
Who would you hire? The person whose output is increasing, or decreasing?
Especially if you are over 40, like me, you have to show in every second of your interview that you can outwork, outlast and out perform any of those young guys. Your message is that they don’t know the meaning of accomplishment. If you prove you won’t relax and take it easy, you’ll get the job. It doesn’t matter who you are competing against. If you relax, you’ll get cleat marks up your back.
Next: The attention business