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Job Seekers: Fight Age Discrimination by Refusing to be a Luddite

Transform from Luddite to Technophile and start with some incredibly simple steps

Reader Alert! I’m about to grant myself a bit of poetic license and offer a slightly different perspective on the topic, so no need to go chasing down the more precise ramifications of being a Luddite in the workplace just yet. We’ll get to that a little later.  

If you don’t know what a Luddite is, chances already increased you might just be one. As history goes, a gent named Ned Lud (perhaps a mythological character) led a rebellion (this was definitely real) against technology during England’s Industrial Revolution. Mill and cotton workers feared their jobs would disappear with the advent of innovation. They viewed machinery as their nemesis, eroding their ability to earn a decent wage. Driven by fear and ignorance, they resolved to settle this crisis by simply destroying their employer’s equipment. A short-term solution to a much longer-term problem!   

That fear factor started me thinking about a different sort of rebellion going on with today’s resistance to technology. It doesn’t involve turning laptops on their ears or squashing the life out of mobile devices but has more to do with the self-imposed limitations resulting from people avoiding technology.

Unlike the Industrial Revolution, fear is compounded by the invasive reality of today’s technology spreading far beyond the workplace and deep into our personal lives, causing a secondary, social revolution. According to Dr. Roger E. Kasperon, director of a risk study center at Clark University in Worcester, MA, “People climb mountains and expose themselves voluntarily to all kinds of risks, but they don’t like risks inflicted upon them that they don’t have understanding or control over.” The Things People Choose to Fear: Kirk Johnson, New York Times, July 30, 2000.

Technology certainly seems to check off most of Dr. Kasperon’s risk avoidance boxes and has the potential for a bigger negative impact on the more seasoned worker. Does technology seem like a vehicle to accelerate an already disruptive force called the younger generation?  It could certainly be viewed in that light unless you’re willing to ride the wave and join the revolution. Limited use of technology can be intimidating when competing with Generations Y to Z and ultimately a career killer if not addressed. Here’s a way to start a simple makeover to look the part even before you start playing the part.   

Certain “markers” brand job seekers who represent the more mature workers. The signs can be so subtle they may have even totally alluded you. Refresh your look and quickly up your game with these easy steps. 

  • Update your email address from yahoo, AOL, Hotmail or outlook. Those addresses all scream “Boomer”. Migrate to Gmail-it’s the safest bet.
  • Master the basics of Office 365. When you attempt to create a resume, it can be excruciatingly painful and time-consuming if formatting ties you up in knots. The same goes for Excel and to a lesser extent, PowerPoint.
  • Become conversant in social channels-specifically Twitter and Instagram. By conversant, I don’t mean you even have to post on them (but you should consider it.) Just don’t automatically ask “What’s that?”  or “No, I wouldn’t ever use that…”  Navigate these sites and discover what they have to offer before dismissing them. Instagram provides a venue to showcase a portfolio of work for the “creatives.” Twitter provides an insider look at employer’s stakeholders, coupled with their reactions to news important to them. It’s invaluable to approach an interview armed with more nuanced knowledge.    
  • Exercise caution with personal information used on the web, but don’t express disdain over everything “internet.”  Avoid comments like “I don’t USE Facebook or LinkedIn, why would I want my personal information out there?” There are ways to protect your privacy AND use these platforms.  Get educated on the features of each or you’ll be missing out on a lot of free advertising and information.

Bigger picture, there is definitely an awareness all job seekers must possess for future workplace preparedness. The dawn of artificial intelligence and more advanced automation is upon us. Herein lies the Luddite’s concern harkening back to the Industrial Revolution. Obsolescence will occur with certain jobs and workers will be displaced. Upskilling is needed to stay relevant and employable- even for those remaining positions. Over a short period of time, even those jobs won’t look the same and job seekers need to be ready. “60% of employees believe their current skills will be outdated in the next three to five years” according to the 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, PwC 2019; The Upskilling Crisis, West Monroe Partners & the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, 2019.

One training resource-rich in offerings is General Assembly, an education organization with a curriculum including the most in-demand skills. Learning is delivered on a full and part-time basis via on-line courses, workshops and in traditional classrooms, covering high tech, business, marketing. Visit their website at https://generalassemb.ly/  Skillshare is another learning option, with classes delivered on-line and moderately priced.  Details of cost and curriculum can be found at https://www.skillshare.com/

Move beyond your fears, take control and start the re-learning process.  As you transform to a technophile, you’ll also find yourself becoming a highly sought-after candidate.

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