Keeping Up With Technology is Key For Older Professionals

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Technology is changing the face of the workplace in many ways. Long gone are the long weekly office meetings and conference calls. Now, email, text messaging and skype web conferences are the norm. All of these changes can leave older professionals scrambling to keep up. If you are finding it difficult to understand what your younger co-workers or even your younger boss is saying, then maybe it is time to brush up on your technical skills.
I know there will be some naysayers out there who will think “Well, I didn't need all this text messaging back then, and I don't need it now.” or “I do things the way I am comfortable, I am set in my ways and all this techno-hooey is just a passing fad.”. This sort of thinking will inevitably make you a less productive employee and much easier to replace. Struggling to adapt to changes is not new. Think about the early 80's. As the baby boomers were putting their stamp on the workplace, the older people were having trouble with the rise of professional women, the end of accepted sexual harassment, the working moms, casual Fridays and loosing the “boys' club” atmosphere of closing business deals over drinks and cigars.
Times change, and if you don't change with them, you can quickly become a liability rather than an asset to a current employer or a potential new employer. Being open to change and willing to adopt new technologies in the workplace is one of the most important things you can do to combat age discrimination and make yourself hireable. And if you think about it, if you aren't willing to learn how to get things done, in the manner your employer wants them done, firing your isn't about discriminating against your age. It is about not keeping ineffective employees.
In today's office, long meetings tend to be rare. Most communication is done through email, instant messages, Twitter feeds and SMS messaging. If you aren't participating in social media, now is a good time to try it out. If you are hesitant to join in with text messaging and mobile twitter, consider investing in a smartphone with a data plan. Almost all of them feature a full QWERTY keyboard that will feel more comfortable when you type out a text message than the traditional clam style cell phone. Using a phone keypad to learn how to text is much more difficult.
As you are reading emails, tweets and SMS messages from younger co-workers and even your boss, you may find that they are using abbreviations that you may not understand. This isn't a sign that you are getting too old to communicate. I am very tech-savvy, but still struggle to understand the newer abbreviations that teens and young adults are using these days. But, I have to keep in mind that this is their technology. Many of the youngest employees today have never lived in an era when there werenn't cell phones and internet. If you can't figure out what they are talking about, there are some websites that can help. UrbanDictionary, Wikipedia and even Google can be great tools. Just type in the terms you are unfamiliar with, and they will quickly help you decipher it. And, if you have a smartphone with a data plan, you can do it right from your phone.
Keeping current with technology is the best way to stay relevant and keep yourself in the office information loop. Show your employer that you aren't afraid to learn something new and adapt to the changing workplace and you will find that you can still be professionally relevant and employable for a long time.
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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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