Advice from the trenches: Ignore some advice

Oh, this one is going to get Here’s Why into trouble.

We’re a bit tired of hearing that people – especially women, but men are getting this as well – should try and dress, look and act younger in order to compete with new grads.

Age discrimination is abundant though not provable, but in the end a company wants a confident, knowledgable and flexible worker. These are the people who are beginning to land jobs even as the economy is still stuck, and age factors in less when companies recognize the ol’ bang-for-your-buck truth.

It does seem that more men of a certain age are shaving their heads rather than succumb to the mortifiying comb-over, and that may be a good thing. We are also hearing that more and more job hunters are having pre-interview Botox and plastic surgery, and we find that scary. But nothing is sadder-looking than an over-30 Lady Gaga wannabe. OK, that’s a stretch, but you’ve seen something like it – you know you have – and it’s lesson number one in how to look desperate.

You know this does not mean wear “old-people clothes” (whatever that means to you), but you should be realistic about your professional presentation. All the advice about researching the corporate culture and the people you will meet holds true. Companies want people who are going to make them some money. That’s it.

The less experienced you are, the harder it is to sell that point to a recruiter. So in fact, the new grads aren’t finding it any easier, and anyone actually on the job hunt will tell you so. We sat across from a capable, bright young grad the other day as she related that an interviewer had told her there was no point in hiring her. They already had five guys with more experience than she had years of age. How crushing, and how unnecessary.

(See tips on handling the Stress Interview)

A friend summed it up nicely: “Companies want a 30-year-old with 20 years’ experience.”

Some of us have experienced “eye glaze” in the reception area. It’s the flash of “But … but …” that occasionally happens after a recruiter scans the room, seeing through us as our name is called, and it appears as we stand up and are not the 22-year-old who was expected. At this point you have an extra wall to climb and you have to sell yourself harder. No fashion advice, no cover-the-grey formula or additions of “awesome” to your interview speech can help you here.

We are encouraged to hear that several talented former coworkers, many of whom fit the legal “older worker” (over 40) definition, have recently been hired because of what they can do for the companies that hired them. One had just allowed her hair to return to its full white brilliance. It suits her, and so does her new position.

Advice from the trenches: Dress for the objective, not the fashionistas.


Advice from the trenches: Be kind to strangers

Advice from the trenches: Handling the stress interview


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  1. […] Advice from the trenches: Ignore some advice Published in: […]

  2. […] April 29, 2010 at 8:46 am Advice from the trenches: Ignore some advice « Here's Why. […]

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