Keep Calm and Look Young in the job search

Now that the weather has finally warmed up here, I ran into Binny’s the other day to grab a bottle of white wine for Memorial Day weekend. The cashier took a look at me and asked me if I had ID. I am at the age at which I usually don’t get carded plus MBA Toddler was sitting up in the cart. Surprised, I showed her my license. The cashier said, “I didn’t expect that. You don’t look a day over 30.”

I almost did a happy dance right in line.

Aside from the fact that someone who was the born the year I graduated high school can now legally buy alcohol, a pleasant but sad thought relating to my job search entered my happy head.  If I look young to a store cashier, I will also look young to recruiters.

As a newly minted fortysomething, I am so fearful of encountering age discrimination. MBA Dad and I have both experienced some form of it.  Early in his job search before we moved here, he went for a first round interview for a position at a financial news service. He arrived at the interview dressed in a suit and tie and not in skinny jeans and a Keep Calm and Carry Whatever shirt worn by his interviewer. While he interviewed well, he never got a call from them again.

In my situation, right before moving here I met with a recruiter who had a temporary entry-level cash management posting that she was trying to fill.  She told me she sent over candidates with five years of experience and this company was sending them away and would not grant any of those candidates an interview. Five years is about half the experience I possess. However, since recruiters get paid by filling postings, she wanted to talk to the recruiter at the company to encourage them to consider me. Her angle was that for someone coming back from a break, this would be a good way to reimmerse myself in the finance world. I never heard back from her.

So, what to do?  Well, you can’t control your age, but you can control how you look.  In addition to the weight loss, I am constantly on gray hair watch. Hanging out in the skin care section at Nordstrom doesn’t hurt either.

Let me be clear, my primary offensive weapons are my skill set, work ethic, energy and intelligence. I just may need an assist from my hair stylist.

In the meantime, there is no need to panic. I will just Keep Calm and Carry On. Hell, maybe I will even buy a bloody shirt.

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Tags: job search

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