Recently, Tory Johnson, the Good Morning America career contributor, talked about how job seekers are using plastic surgery to help them in their job search. Obviously, Tory didn’t support the concept and neither do I. While I’ve conceded the point that there is age bias out there in the work place, there is also a perspective I would like to impart on my peers.
First, if you want to get plastic surgery because you’ll feel better about yourself, I’m all for it. I think plastic surgery is a personal choice and when made for the right reasons, it can help a person feel better. Having plastic surgery simply to make yourself more competitive (unless you are in Hollywood) as a job seeker or on the job, means you don’t fully understand the turf you’re playing on.
I agree there is age bias. I also agree there are a ton of other biases including race, gender, professional background, sexual orientation and weight. Pick one or two; I’m sure you qualify for a couple of different biases. Unfortunately, we have a part of us that does judge other people for purely irrational reasons. It’s part of our genetic makeup. We can legislate overt prejudices, but we can’t make a law to govern what goes on in someone’s mind. I hope you get the point I’m making. All of us will be judged for all types of reasons by those who are interviewing and hiring. It might not be fair, but it is reality.
With that thought in mind, here is the perspective I’d like to impart:
It all equals out at some point. For every person I’ve heard tell me their concerns that their boomer age is getting in their way, I’ve heard a twenty something say the same thing. Both are true and both even out. Let me tell you this quick story to illustrate my point.
I recently had a gal tell me she thought she was not getting a job because of her age. After a bit of inquiry, I found that she had been sending her resume to online postings. No one had a chance to tell what her age was. She was working against the odds of high volume and made up a story that it had something to do with her age. Once I pointed this out to her, she realized her error on many levels. As a result, she changed her approach and her attitude. My point is that the age issue can sometimes be all be in your mind. Even if it’s not, just know that someone in their twenties is having the same issue.
If you are in this group and think you honestly have had your age work against you, then it simply means you have to work harder or differently to find a job or get promoted. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then change what you’re doing. You might also think through what the age bias means to others. See if there is anything you can do to behave in such a way that age simply isn’t an issue. When I speak to groups on this problem, I ask about the real issues that drive the bias. I get answers like:
I suggest you think about this list, self assess, and see what you could be doing to perpetuate the bias.
Notice the list of age-related issues did not include wrinkles, glasses, hair color or knee braces. We all face bias, but it doesn’t mean you have to be so desperate you go under the knife. I challenge you to think about this problem in a new way. You have a choice about your own attitude on this issue. You can think it’s totally unfair and be frustrated or unhappy much of the time; or you can decide that it’s just part of life, which means you adjust and move forward. What’s your choice?
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