How to Overcome Baby Boomers Who Are Bottlenecking Your Jobs

How to Overcome Baby Boomers Who Are Bottlenecking Your Jobs

April 26, 2017 Interviewing

Gone are the days of your predecessors retiring at the age of 65. Now your hard-earned potential for upward movement is met with a huge hurdle to overcome.

Have you observed this trend in your office? Where your director roles are filled with a man or woman who have occupied that position for 30 years? What makes it even harder to overcome, is that he or she is more than qualified to be there and has no plans to retire.

You can’t blame the Baby Boomers, though. Their retirements were hit hard, many not making the financial goals they had anticipated. Not to mention, they are in great health, and their years of experience in your sought-after position makes their expertise all the more valuable.

Their decision to stay should motivate you to ready yourself — read: to pounce! — when a position does open up. The process starts now. Don’t wait until you hear of your predecessor’s departure, start working the internal angle to ensure you are the frontrunner for replacement.

Why the Baby Boomers are such fierce competitors

Real life stories of two of my Baby Boomer clients may help you understand what is creating stiff competition for you.

Maureen was six years away from retirement. She had put 10 years in at the same company. Where once hard-working Baby Boomers looked forward to retirement, she pivoted and went for an altogether new position. Maureen started a new career at Mastercard, taking a job that — had she retired — would have been left available for a candidate from a younger generation. Great for Maureen. Hard for you.

Or take Lisa, for instance, who had to fight through ageism to land a new job. As a 55-year-old now working as an HR representative at a law firm, she’s starting a career at a point in her life that might make for a challenging environment. While she won an uphill battle, she earned an opportunity that could have gone to someone else. Good for Lisa. Hard for you.

Our traditionalist society has evolved. Baby Boomers are providing stiff competition by remaining evergreen in their contribution to the company, making it harder for you to move up.

This is why you can’t miss an opportunity to impress upon your boss that you deserve to move up. When there’s an actual spot open — you have to take advantage.

What does this change in trend mean for you, a younger generation candidate?

Baby Boomers are unique competition — fighting their own battles to be considered for the same jobs you seek. Like Lisa, many have approached me because they are facing ageism in the job market, finding it hard to prove that not only do they have the energy to win in a competitive market but also that they will be open to new ways of doing things. These are consistent ill-informed assumptions about job candidates who started careers during the 1980s versus those who started in the 1990s or 2000s.

Baby boomers know this already and are proactively addressing these assumptions. Their commitment to overcoming any stereotypes makes it harder for younger generations to fully appreciate how they are no longer only going head-to-head with peers — but also with experienced professionals who have witnessed the evolution of industries.

How can you compete with that? First and foremost, take every job interview seriously knowing:

Baby Boomers are staying at the top roles
Baby Boomers who want to work know how to circumvent market-wide assumptions
Baby Boomers are just as tenacious as you, if not more so, about winning the role in which you compete

It’s critical you know how to position yourself in a way that you’ve never positioned yourself before. Especially since opportunities in your salary range may not crop up as quickly as they have in the past.

Regardless what hurdle you must overcome, you can’t wait to start selling yourself internally. Be prepared — whether for a casual conversation with your director, or an official HR screening, or round one interview with a hiring manager — to answer the following questions:

What fresh ideas can I bring to the table?
What are my two greatest career wins?

Knowing the answers to these two questions will help you position yourself as a ready-to-go candidate for the next available promotion.

Preparation must go up in order for you to stand out

In today’s competitive market, you need to set yourself apart from those who have notable reputations in an industry and have been solving business challenges across economic cycles for years. You have to play to what HR is thinking so that they select you over one whose experience comes with deep industry relationships.

Figuring out how to sell yourself can be a challenge on your own. To help, let me give you instant access to this eBook where you’ll discover the 10 most important things that HR is thinking about YOU and learn how to sell your skills to the one person who will decide whether you are staying or leaving.

The playbook will include 7 solid pages of clear-cut advice from top leaders and major HR execs. It will serve as the anchor to a more focused and effective interview preparation, marking you as the clear, leading candidate.
The value of each and every interview is up because there are more candidates in the pipeline who are more experienced and opting to stay where they have built decade-long careers. Would you want to leave a place where you felt like family?


About the author

Melissa Llarena: is the CEO and career coach behind Career Outcomes Matter. Her craft is coaching top executives on how to dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Her client base includes US-based as well as international business leaders with 15-plus years of experience who are undeniably really good at what they do yet simply want a strategic partner who can quickly fully understand their tangible and intangible contributions to effectively scale up their interviewing skills for the toughest interviews. Click to gain instant access to her 20-page interview preparation kit to gain an edge then schedule a phone call to see how she’d leverage her most powerful insights based on your unique situation -- all in time for your next interview.