How to stay relevant at your workplace as you grow older

Photograph: Dillon Shook/Unsplash

It may not seem very difficult at first but before long you discover your bosses are younger than you and you’re finding it difficult to catch up.

India is a young country, which also means as you grow older you have to run twice as fast to keep up with the younger workforce that's more agile, less expensive to hire and more eager to prove. If you, on the other hand, are thinking that this is the job from which you finally retire you may be in for a shock. The global pandemic has thrown away everything we know about life and careers. Companies that were once supposed to be safe havens and where you could spend the last 20 years of your career if you weren’t very ambitious, are now waking up to the reality that if they don’t evolve they will have to shut down.

Just like companies, if you’re a senior management professional, you too must evolve and work out for yourself what’s the next big thing for you. These are the handy tips for you to stay relevant in these times.

1. Learn new things

This may seem like the most obvious piece of advice but it’s also the most important one. As we grow older we tend to be less open to learning new things. And that’s the beginning of the end. We cannot stress how important it is to not stop your learning. As it happens we are living in the golden age of e-learning, which means all you need is an internet connection and you’re good. Platforms such as Udemy, Coursera and LinkedIn Learning are great places to begin your journey. Start by taking out an hour every day to dedicate yourself to learning so you don’t fall behind.

2. Change your jobs if you can

This may seem counterintuitive at a time like this when the future of most industries hangs in the balance but nothing can push you out of your comfort zone as your getting yourself a new job. A new role in a new company brings with it a unique set of challenges and that is bound to make you more agile and alert. You won’t take things for granted like you may have been doing at your previous workplace because you will have to prove yourself all over again in the new job.

3. Don’t be shy of networking

Unfortunately, networking has earned a bad reputation. That’s mostly the case because several of us tend to see networking a quid pro quo affair. You expect to go to an event to meet someone who could be your potential employer. Unfortunately, that’s not how networking works. The more you meet people, the more you learn about them and what they do. The more you learn, the better you get at what you do. Somewhere in this process, you will discover that one of those people you’ve met has a job for you. And bam! That’s how you land a job. The key is to meet people for the sake of sharing ideas and genuinely learning new things, not just to find a new job.

4. Learn to leverage social media

It doesn’t matter if it’s LinkedIn or Instagram – today, everyone’s on all platforms and you never know what they pick up on. Instead of being afraid of it, consider using these platforms to showcase your different sides. Be active on LinkedIn – by not just liking and sharing other people’s posts but also creating fresh content yourself. Ditto with other platforms. If you’re a good photographer, consider using Instagram. If you have a perspective on the latest news events, write it out and post it on your social feeds. The important thing to remember is to be consistent and not be fake. The moment you start spewing platitudes, you’ll lose your audience. Your friends and followers aren’t stupid. So whatever you create, make sure you genuinely believe it and it showcases the best sides of your personality.