People 55 and over struggle to find new jobs, and the average time for them to find employment is a little over a year. Unemployment is at its lowest level in the past four years, but the people being hired are mostly in their 20s and 30s. And, the unemployment numbers don’t accurately account for those older workers who have simply given up on finding a job and have dropped out of being counted among the nation’s unemployed. It’s against the law, but appearance-related age discrimination is still rampant in American workplaces.
Older job hunters need to walk the tightrope between demonstrating solid, relevant experience, and being considered too “mature” for the job. Some interviewers don’t take the time to get to know a candidate once they’ve met them face-to-face and reach an initial, stereotyped assessment of “too old”. If you really want the job, and don’t want to lose out for a completely superficial reason, there are a few things you could consider doing before starting your job hunt.
Update Your Hairstyle
If you have gray hair, think about coloring it with natural-looking highlights and lowlights. You don’t want it to be inky or monochromatic, as that can make you look even older. And, if you haven’t changed your hairstyle in the past 20 years, now is the time to try something new. Many people find a look they like at a young age and stick with it. Decades later, times have changed but their haircut hasn’t. Go for something not too trendy, and easy for you to style yourself.
Rejuvenate Your Skin
An even-toned, uniformly pigmented complexion advertises health, youth and beauty. Start a daily skin care program that includes exfoliation, brightening and sun protection. If you want to achieve a more dramatic improvement, you might consider cosmetic procedures which are becoming increasingly popular choices for older workers, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS). Plastic surgery, BOTOX, fillers, eyelid surgery, facelifts and neck procedures are on the rise as the economy improves and hiring is picking up. While eye lifts rose 3% and facelifts grew 9% in 2011, injectables were up 12% and fillers, such as fat injections, jumped 14%, according to the ASPS.
Refresh Your Wardrobe
Clothes and shoes can immediately date a job candidate. Seek the advice of a trendy, younger advisor and learn to create updated, polished looks with items you might already have, and by investing in a few choice new pieces, such as a blazer, pencil skirt, tailored white blouse and dress pants. Avoid heavy, nude pantyhose. If you wear any stockings at all, make sure they’re either colored, or the sheerest, most invisible type available. Don’t forget to evaluate your eyeglasses and accessories, too.
Brighten Your Smile
Age, smoking and coffee cause teeth to yellow and become spotted, which can make you look older in an interview. Fortunately, it’s easy and inexpensive to counter this problem. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products ($25 to $50), brighten up a smile dramatically.
Get Your Rest and Prepare
Being well-rested is one of the best ways to feel and look great. Get plenty of sleep, rehearse your pitch and do your research before any interview or informal meeting. Arming yourself with knowledge is powerful and will give you the ability to converse confidently.
Education, training, a strong work history, solid references, and a polished interview experience should be the only things that matter when you land that dream job. However, in today’s competitive job market, too many other people also have the same qualities. Hiring managers are forced to use some other criteria, and unfortunately, they may choose a potential employee based on their appearance. Refreshing your look can offer you a big boost, and cosmetic procedures aimed at turning back the clock may offer an advantage. If you were already considering eye surgery, BOTOX, a mini-facelift, facial fillers or laser treatments, and you’re a 50+ professional searching for a new job, this might be the perfect opportunity to explore your options.