Whether we are talking about recruiting new hires or on-the-job experiences, ageism is a very real thing that exists in all arenas of product management. While it is true that not every company deals with this issue, it is unfortunately still a reality in many workplaces. If you are more senior in your career and are trying either to break into the industry or to make advancements, here are a few tips on how to combat this problem.
Ageism in the Workplace: Where to Start
If you are trying to land a new job in product management, the first thing you must consider is your desired outcome. More specifically, what sort of companies are you aiming for? A major factor that recruiters will consider is your potential to mesh well with the company culture — and if that company culture is a young start-up full of 20-somethings, you may have a challenging case to make.
By focusing your sights on companies that are looking for more experienced or senior Product Managers, you are ensuring that more of your job-hunting energy is going towards finding companies and positions where you will be able to seamlessly become a part of the team. There are so many great companies out there that are willing to work with you: wasting time chasing an opportunity that you are not the right fit for is rarely worthwhile.
‘The Right Fit’ Goes Both Ways
After all, often if you are not the ‘right fit’ for a position, the reality is likely that the company and position would not have been the right fit for you either. You want to make sure you’re going after positions you will actually enjoy, at companies that you feel fulfilled working for: don’t devalue loving your work environment and your team! Aim to find a company where you can see yourself fitting in and enjoying your work.
If you are concerned about the quantity of interviews and offers you will receive by being more selective with your applications, one of our career coaches would love to talk with you. The Product Gym program has helped hundreds of people from age 23 to 53 generate a higher volume of interviews, and most often multiple job offers within 45-60 days. In our program, age is not a factor that affects success.
How to Combat Ageism in the Workplace
On the other hand, if we are talking about facing ageism over seeking promotions at a company you are already working at, remember that promotion really works the same in every company. Best practice is to document why you should get the promotion and make your case. If that goes nowhere, go to the higher ups: solve a very big problem for them. If you are continually ignored or placated, then you may be facing prejudice that you cannot overcome: that is not your fault, and it might be time to start looking for another job.
If you are in a company right now where they do not value you and where they are not setting you up to succeed, you are going to have to get out of that situation eventually anyway. You might as well take the first step; take the initiative to get out of there. Staying in a situation like that is not only not helping your career, but also not helping your mental health.
Ageism and Toxic Environments
Unfortunately, when you are working in a very toxic work environment facing problems like ageism, these toxic environments and people can convince us that this is the best that we could ever do. The reality is there are so many other better opportunities and better people to work with, and better products to work on. You do not have to settle for this situation! You just need better tools to get yourself out of that environment.
Find the Right Company
If ageism in the workplace or a similar toxic environment is affecting your work life, get yourself out. Take the first step in moving on and finding a better company to work for. We put together a master job board of Product Manager roles using our extensive network and insider knowledge. Please make use of it: Start applying today!