Once again I am tip-toeing into the waters of the job market. Picture a lovely beach with waves rhythmically rolling in. I am the nervous one at the very edge where the tide laps the shore, my feet hardly getting wet, trying to drum up the courage to wade on in.
When asked about my relationship with the job market, I would say – “It’s complicated.”
I worked full-time – lawyering – for 33 years. Then, as my loyal readers know, a 2x dreadful cardiac infection kicked me out of the action. One day I was a law partner at a downtown firm, the next day I was in the ER. It was a sudden transition.
The next phase was what I like to call “semi-retirement” – returning to my childhood roots as writer and sometimes even getting paid for it. Speaking out on young adult mental health and sometimes even getting paid for that. The “gig” economy, that is what it is called these days.
But the time between “gigs’ stretches thin, as many of you likely know – and as much as I love siting on my deck, listening to the birds sing in my backyard and writing, I do feel obligated o search once again for that wonderful thing we call a “paycheck.” A part-time one that shows up regularly would be quite nice.
Back to the tip-toeing and perhaps the reason for my trepidation.
Last spring I send out a batch of job applications. Heard zippo back from all of them. Maybe something in my resume was not winning over the hiring managers?
Then a close friend of mine called my attention to one particular Want Ad and said – “This is you!” – I applied and was invited for an interview. Two people asking me questions at the same time; it did not go well from the start. Bad vibes emanating from one of them. You know how it is when you meet new people; sometimes you we just don’t click. And exactly 24 hours later I received a very short email of rejection.
I wrote about it here:
Who wants to be told “No” when it’s your first time applying for a new job in over 25 years? Job rejection stings – at any age.
And while I do want to focus on my writing (moment of pride: I have finally written an outline for my novel. Yes, just an outline but it is a start), I’d like to be back among the work force some of the time.
But this time I am going to take a different tack before sending resumes out. I am going to stack the cards in my favor.
I have decided to change my first name! Because, face it, “Ageism” is not only alive and well, it is flourishing – especially if you have a baby boomer birthdate and the name that goes with it.
Think about it –> when an HR person or recruiter opens your resume, the first thing they see is your name, right? And if it is Linda or Carol or Deborah, forget it. Your chances of making it out of the first round instantly diminish. Because no one under age 55 has that name. Brenda, Diane, Pamela? You are likely doomed.
Particularly if the HR person/recruiter is named Ashley, Heather or Jessica.
Amber (do forgive me if that is your name; it is lovely but an age-give-away), that nice young VP of human resources, is not a stupid person. She sees that you are named “Nancy” and she knows right away that you are about the same age as her mother. Which is not a good thing.
Who wants to hire their mother? Let alone work in the same office with her.
So before I start applying for a part-time job this time around, I am going to switch the name on my resume from “Nancy” to something that at least sounds 20 years younger. I’ll start with the statistics kept by the U.S. Social Security Administration and pick a popular name from the late 1970’s or early 1980;s that will prove my youthfulness, in spirit if not in reality.
“Hi, my name is Jennifer. Pleased to meet you.”
“Hi, I’m Amanda. Here is a copy of my resume.”
“Thank you for interviewing me. My name is Nicole ____.”
Already practicing for that crucial first moment of appraisal when Amber, the VP of human resources meets me in person – and realizes (to her chagrin) that despite my millennial name, I am indeed the same age as her mother.
What do you say Diane, Ellen and Gail? Want to start a movement to fight Ageism in the older women workplace by disguising our real names?
I’m going with Nicole.