Had lunch with my dear friend Faye. When I arrived at the restaurant I told the hostess that I was meeting someone and she said, “Yes, the older lady is waiting for you by the window.” As I approached the table I could see Faye with her gray hair in the same style she’d had since college. I also saw her granny glasses and matronly outfit. Faye is younger than I am, but I could see why the hostess had called her the older lady. Faye brought up the reason for our lunch right away. She’d been laid off 6 months earlier and had not landed another job. She blamed her lack of a job on the economy and she wanted me to help her revamp her resume.
The job market is plenty tight but that’s all the more reason to present yourself as a stylish, ageless woman. Faye is bright, funny and knowledgeable with a college degree and good professional experience. Her resume didn’t need a make-over. She needed a make-over. I’ve known Faye a long time and felt comfortable telling her the gray hair had to go along with the glasses and the outfit.
Faye had always said she earned every wrinkle and didn’t see why she wasn’t judged by her character and experience instead of her appearance. Looking older is a drawback no matter what a woman’s goals are. In some cultures, older people are sought out for their advice. Ours is a youth oriented culture where 12 year olds write computer programs and make tons of money before they go to high school. Looking our age, or God forbid older, is counterproductive.
If you’re on the job market, appearance is key to getting hired. Let’s consider the term “older woman”. What comes to mind? A woman whose best days are behind her? Someone who is set in her ways? Who suffers from senior moments? An older women may be in poor health. In short she’s lost her mojo. If you’re a 30 something human resources person, is that who you want to hire? But, you say, everyone gets old; it’s just part of life and can’t be changed. True enough. But looking like an older women, can be helped.
Here’s what I suggested to Faye: Go see a good hairdresser. Color the gray hair and get it cut into a stylish new do. Dump the bifocals and get good looking transitional bifocals. Invest in an interview outfit. A well cut pantsuit in a flattering color will work well. That way Faye could avoid wearing the stiletto heels that are so much in style. But no flats. A medium heeled shoe is fine.
To my surprise Faye actually took my advice and asked me to come shopping with her after she got her hair taken care of. We chose a taupe pantsuit that complimented her new auburn hair color with accompanying accessories. Faye looked so different her own kids would pass her on the street. The most amazing thing was Faye was thrilled with her new look. Her spirits soared and she said she had a new lease on life. I think she’ll have a job soon!