Am I Too Old to Get a New Job?

Last Updated Aug 13, 2009 4:53 PM EDT

Dear Stanley,

I am almost 50 years old and have been told by headhunters that I am already too old. I have been a controller for 25 years and in the same position for the last 8 years. My boss recently told me that I am at the top of my game and does not think I should get a raise anymore. I don't know where to look for a new job. The newspapers have nothing and the headhunters don't want me. Help!

Signed,

Young at Heart

Dear YAH,

I am tempted to tell you to sue the headhunters for age discrimination, but they are sort of telling you the truth. This is happening to you because you are old. Fifty is the new thirty as far as I'm concerned, particularly for very immature people like you and me. But it isn't your age that's getting in your way, primarily. It's that you're too damn expensive. See, here's what corporations like to do. The like to hire very young, inexperienced and cheap people, keep them around until they are seasoned, wise and experienced, and then complain about how expensive they have gotten. Pretty soon, they screw with the old-timer so much that he gets fed up and leaves and the whole cycle starts over.

How old is your boss? I have personally outlived at least three Human Resource executives who told me I was making as much money as I ever would. One of them showed me a chart showing how I was overpaid already, and that was when I was making about 15 percent of what I'm making now. My point is that people are full of it, and bosses even more than other people a lot of the time. Cool your jets. Don't be pissed off so badly that you fall down on the job. Take your time. And note this carefully: STAY AWAY FROM HEADHUNTERS. I have never met one that got anybody I know a job. I know they must, because they all work for big firms with very nice wallpaper and corporate art on the walls, so they're getting fees someplace. But most of the time they just recycle resumes and send people out for jobs that, while they are posted, are already going to be filled by the boss's nephew. Besides, headhunters have all kinds of advice and rules and other nonsense that make you feel like killing yourself.

You're a hot property, buddy. You're young. You have lots of savvy, know-how, and moxie. Perhaps one day you will be more than a CFO. Finance people of your age start looking good to companies who need a smart, moneywise Chief Operating Officer. Fire your current headhunter. Keep your current job. Start putting out feelers to other opportunities. Take your time. And keep pressing for a raise every six months or so. One day, something will pop: You'll get a nice new job, and you can tell the boss to stuff it. If he's still around. Bosses top out, too, you know.

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