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Baby Boomers: Don’t Let Appearance Stand in Your Way!

Baby Boomers: Don’t Let Appearance Stand in Your Way!

By Barbara Jaworski
Workplace Institute

Ageism in the workplace exists. If you’re a baby boomer and you’ve had to job hunt, you’ve probably experienced it.
There are many misconceptions around older workers but the reality is that baby boomers are highly skilled in using new technologies, agile when it comes to a changing workplace, and more committed and engaged than their younger counterparts.
When you interview for a new position, it’s up to you to convince those in charge of hiring that you’re just as passionate, energetic, adaptable and technologically savvy as those half your age and it begins with the first impression.
Studies have shown that, during the interview process, prospective employees make their decision to consider or not consider an applicant with the first 10 seconds of that applicant entering the room. You want to make that first 10 seconds count! 
Because the decision to consider you for the position is made before you’ve had a chance to open your mouth, those first 10 seconds are all about appearance.
If you’re older, you need to convey the impression that you’re mature and experienced but also an energetic and enthusiastic individual who’s eager for new challenges.
Looking mature is fine—looking behind the times is not. If your clothes or hairstyle are10 years out of date, interviewers will wonder if your business skills are out of date, too. If you’re looking tired and old, you’re not going to convey energy and passion.
Both men and women should consider:
  • investing in a contemporary but age-appropriate business wardrobe. I always advise job seekers of any age to purchase a new “interview” outfit – from shoes to shirt. Knowing you look good always gives your confidence a boost.
  • getting a professional to style or colour their hair. Many of us in our 40s and 50s are stuck in a time warp where our hair is concerned. Consider updating the ‘do.
  • investing in new eyeglasses.
  • staying fit. It's more important to come across as a high-energy person than looking younger. Exercise, eat right and get enough sleep. And if you’re overweight, shed some pounds.
  • whitening your teeth. Your smile is one of the first things people notice. As we age, our teeth can become discoloured.

The first things you do after entering the interview room is smile and extend your hand. You want that hand to look as polished as the rest of you. And ladies, no overlong, brightly coloured or appliquéd nails.

And, no matter how old you are, don’t wear perfume or cologne to any business interview or meeting. Some people are allergic and some may simply dislike your choice of scent.
One final note. Watch your posture. All the above tips will mean nothing if you slouch. Great posture conveys confidence.
So get out a full-length mirror, put on your best business outfit and take a long, hard look at the image you project. If you’re having trouble, ask your kids, spouse or a trusted friend for an honest appraisal. Then get out there and show prospective employers that you have everything they’re looking for – and more.
Barbara Jaworski is Canada’s leading expert on boomers, chief KAA-Boomer of the Workplace Institute and author of Rebel Retirement – A KAA-Boomer’s Guide to Creating and Living an Explosive Second Act. You can find out more at

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