How to look younger for your career

Maybe you think I’m taking a cue from Cosmo here: Look Younger at Any Age!

Before I lose you, let me just say that it’s pretty true that anyone, at any age, is better off being younger when they interview. Example?

This is what the age problems looks like, at each age:

Age 15-20. People hate entitled upstarts. I know because I was one.  When I was 16 and working for my grandma at her bookstore, I staged an insurrection due to low pay. I went to the bookstore at the other end of the street and asked for a job. Believe me, when I was complaining about my grandma as a boss, it would have been better if I were five years old, because that’s pretty much how I sounded.

The best way to get your way and not be annoying is to look young while you’re getting your way. People think maybe you don’t really see what you’re doing. Think about it: who can begrudge a seven-year-old a raise?

Age 20-30. If you have a straight career path, with no jumps, gaps or leaps, you will be in a race against all the other perfect performers. Your age is the signifier of how fast you could get to the top. The younger you seem, the more of a workforce prodigy you appear to be.

If you have a winding career path while you figure out what you want to be when you grow up, then you are constantly finding new, entry-level jobs. But the entry-level jobs most often go to the youngest person, in the hope that this is one of those prodigies who is going to have a straight career path. The older you get the more mistakes you needed to make in order to still be looking for entry level jobs.

You can only pull off that routine if you’re 20. And if you’re 23 competing with that 20-year-old, then you’re too old.

Age 30-40. This is when your life should be closing in on you. People no longer shower you with platitudes like “You’re so smart! You could do anything!” You get married, have a kid or two, and get the sense that you can see the rest of your life ahead of you. You can keep your options open longer by pretending to be at the beginning of this decade instead of the end. People will be willing to take more risks on you.

If you’re a man.

If you’re a woman you need to look so young that no one thinks you’re going to spend the decade pregnant, taking off work to go to doctor’s appointments.

In any case, 40 looms large, because everyone’s salary pretty much tops out at age 40. The best way to keep that from happening is to be like Jessica Chastain and shave some years off your life.

Age 40-50. If you can fake being 10% younger, you will face 50% less discrimination. This is not based on anything but my own experience. But the numbers are pretty much right.

Otherwise you’re competing against 25-year-olds. And they will work for very little money because they are stuck in extended emerging adulthood and they’re hoping the best is yet to come.

For a great primer on these problems, watch the TV show Younger. It’s about a woman who is 40 who has to get a job, and after getting turned down everywhere, she pretends to be 25 and gets a great job. I can’t decide if it’s painful to watch her have a 25-year-old boyfriend, but it’s fascinating to watch her fake it at work.

Which brings me to proposed solutions for aging, which are, in some cases, less drastic (and preposterous) than that TV scenario.

Botox. Start when you’re 25 so you don’t get a wrinkle above your nose. This is not controversial. The controversial Botox is on your temples, where it’s $3000 to fill them in and, just, why? I never hated my temples until my last Botox trip when the nurse pointed out to me how we subconsciously judge someone’s age by the caved-in-ness of their temples.

Okay. Face lift. Breast lift. Hair lift. Whatever. These are obvious and do them if you have that much money. But then I’m thinking, if you have that much money to spend, why are you worrying about getting a job?

So surgery is of course the best way to shave a decade from your life. But if that’s not an option, you can go the opposite direction, and specialize. If you specialize then you do not have to compete against younger people. The more specialized you are—with a stellar track record, of course—the more immune you are from the young people nipping at your heels.

Another tactic is to take a decade off your life on your resume. Literally. Just delete any job from more than ten years ago. And take the dates off your education section. But be careful: a lot of people do that, but then they give themselves away by being an oldster and not even knowing it. So pay heed:

  • Use only a Gmail address. Nothing else.
  • No street address. Just the city.
  • Put dots in your phone number. (
  • Put something weird in your school section. Only young people put clubs or awards or junior year abroad because they are still so proud. It’s too much detail for an older person—school is too far away. So add something extraneous down there in the education section. It’ll make people think you need to grow up.

Take better selfies because Google never forgets. There are rules, based on science. Use them. Good lighting. Soft filter. Face is 1/3 of the picture.

I was going to put this photo up top. But I broke two important rules, which is that if you’re a woman, show long hair and cut off your forehead. (Though maybe I mitigated that by following a bigger rule, which is have a Millennial edit your photos.)

So instead, for my picture at the top I used another rule, that I just made up, which is know your best body part. (Also, do those burrs stuck to my skirt make me look younger? A good question for an enterprising researcher.)

Speak their language. Let’s call this generational code switching. If you’re in your 40s you could try doing a lot less work at work. The Economist reports that after polling representatives of all three generations, it turns out that Gen Xers (entering their 40s) work much harder than Millennials (entering their 30s). If you’re in your 50s you can fake people out by wearing a Bernie Sanders sticker, because old people like Hillary. If you’re in your 30s you could try ditching Facebook and act like the younger generation that thinks Facebook is stupid. But nothing here is foolproof.

And eventually the age thing catches up to you: I would never have guessed, in my 30s, how much attention I was getting in my career just because I was young and hot. I thought I was simply a genius. But good looks are to a career like a lighthouse is to a ship: you don’t know whether you can actually navigate until the light goes out.

Something I noticed about investors is that a lot of them have piles of money that they really don’t need any more. But they do want a more interesting life. And for sure they need to look younger. So they invest in crazy, fun, innovative entrepreneurs. Female entrepreneurs are even better, because who doesn’t want to hang out with a smart, hot, woman?

So you see my problem: it’s hard to sustain that game.

So I found a solution: I go to as few meetings as possible. The older I get, the more work it is to deal with the investors in person. So two weeks ago, I just cancelled. I said I couldn’t make the flight that week and offered the next week. The investors looked at their calendars. They are busy. Looking took a while. They could both do it at the beginning of the week.

“Oh shoot!” I said. “I can’t get there til the end of the week.”

So we did the meeting on the phone. Great. I was in my pajamas. I was happy to be talking to them. I like them. And I like that they’re old: they don’t mind when I need more money. And they don’t ever suggest we use FaceTime.

And I hope, in twenty years, when I’m their age, people will be glad that I’m old, too.


72 replies
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    Good advice. Especially true for tech companies here in Silicon Valley where your CEO might be in their 20s. Silent age discrimination is rampant. At least in pro sports, you know you’re done by 30 (35 if you’re lucky).

    The dots-in-the-phone-number thing made me laugh, though. It’s true, but I picked up that habit at Netscape, 20 years ago.

    • Logan
      Logan says:

      How interesting. Most Silicon Valley CEOs C-level executives I know are in their 50s. A small percentage of them are in their 20s, like less than 5%, but the media likes to write about them the most.

      • Lynne
        Lynne says:

        Yes, but how many CEO’s in Silicon Valley that are 50+ are women? There’s a few…only a few.

      • Lynne
        Lynne says:

        And – it’s OK to be a grey-haired distinguished man. For women in the -50 or 50+ there is no such thing as grey hair. Can you imagine walking into a room full of 30 somethings with a full head of grey hair? And whattaya gonna do ’bout that receding hairline? Like P says, you can only fake it for so long.

  2. ASF
    ASF says:

    Medicine appears to be different. As a 50 year old physician I’d like to look 10 years older. I’ve jokingly asked my wife if I should add grey to my hair.

  3. BK
    BK says:

    If you’re a man and bald or balding, shave your head. I also think it’s important to try to keep your weight under control (something I definitely struggle with). Working out is also a good thing (I’m in my mid 40s and one thing I find strange is how few people my age seem to go to the gym – most are under 35 or 50+).

    I also like to keep up with new and emerging trends and newer bands. While I actually like some of the newer bands out there (mostly metal and alternative acts) being into “younger” music and going to clubs with younger demographics usually makes you appear younger as well!

    Above all else, remember that age is just a number. Refuse to utter the words, “I’m too old to do that!” Even if people know you’re older, if you’re young at heart and they can relate to you it won’t be nearly as bad.

    I know several people my age who are counting down the days till they retire. “F*** that!” I say. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up!

    • John
      John says:

      For people in their 40’s, Children & career stage really hamper their ability & time to make it to the gym.

      • BK
        BK says:

        Very true. I struggle with this myself. I also think older people start to worry more about their health and decide to work out regularly again.

        • Dharma in Heels
          Dharma in Heels says:

          I am 42. I was always busy with something in my life but always had to carve out time for fitness. Career and kids definitely take a lot of time and energy, but if I didn’t take time to work out I would be even more tired and unhealthy for everyone.

    • Deidre
      Deidre says:

      Love love love this!I know several people my age who are counting down the days till they retire. “F*** that!” I say. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up!

      • BK
        BK says:

        Thanks Deidre. While I think it is good to be young at heart, reinvention can happen at any age, and if you still have a good 20-25 years left in your career, why waste it thinking about retirement? None of us knows how long we have left or even if we will ever make it to retirement; we might as well try to enjoy life and our careers as much as we can. Enjoy the here and now!

  4. Eva
    Eva says:

    Thank you for this Penelope! It is so true and so sad at the same time.
    I don’t have so much negative experience because of my age, yet.
    There were just a couple of “small situation” where the attention of my boss was to 100% kept by my younger colleague and even my opinion in professional matters was ignored because of hers. Till the day when he realized that she is doing a lot of mistakes.
    It was just sad, to be part of situation like this.

    I am pretty lucky, because in my 30’s I still look much younger but I know thais is going to change and I am quite afraid of it. I try to stay relax, eat healthy, do regularly sport, have fun of what I am doing and enjoy my life. I think being professional, being a happy and self-esteemed person is a good way to win such a competition. And I hope that my genes are going to stay nice to me for the next couple of years!

  5. Diana
    Diana says:

    Penelope, check out Juvederm if you’re going to inject something into your face. There’s a great youtube video posted by Miami plastic surgeon Rian Maercks. He injects his own face and shaves off 10 years.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yes, thats a good one, too. I think when it comes to monnikers, maybe Botox is the Kleexex of injectables.

      Philosophizing: I think the best approach is to use the right stuff for the right spot. Like, some spots you want to freeze and some you want to fill. Increasingly I find that its all an art form. The problem is you pay for each open syringe so each face would really need like half a syringe of ten different products but thats a million dollars.


      • Logan
        Logan says:

        Penelope, I do not recommend injecting your face with synthetic fillers, plastics or silicones like juvederm or botox, the latter which is a poison. Ultimately people who start injecting their face when young eventually develop hardened skin. Drinking lots of clean mineral water, green juices and using natural products without synthetics, parabens, and petrochemicals will help your skin naturally recover from environmental stresses.

      • Pat Sommer
        Pat Sommer says:

        my sister and I split a syringe (I’m a cheapskate) or I should say, split the vial into 2 syringes with a shared appt.

  6. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I’m 48 and in software development. I ended up unexpectedly changing jobs last summer and fell into a company where I am the oldest person among the techies. Most of the developers are in their 20s or early 30s.

    I think one part of what got me hired here is that the company is transitioning from its young startupy phase into that first level of maturity as the business takes off. Companies start looking for experience then. Or, smart ones do.

    But the other thing is that I pass for younger. My hair is only now just starting to thin and it’s still 99% black. And while you couldn’t exactly say that I’m in good shape, I’m at least still slender. People tell me I pass for 40.

    But here’s the craziest thing that has bought me wide acceptance here: my co-workers, even my boss, are in the same generation as my oldest son, who is 30. All those Nicktoons we watched together, all those Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 games we played together — this was the stuff of my coworkers’ childhoods. I get it all. So when I drop an Invader Zim meme into a Slack conversation at juuuuuust the right moment, everybody forgets for a little while longer that I am old enough to be everybody’s dad.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I dance with many men in a wide age range. It’s hard to tell how old many of them are. And much of it boils down to their spirit.

      I am sure that showing up once a week to hit the dance floor for all the latin dance that can roll out that night really requires a certain kind of person willing to push past the comfort zone and stick it out until they’re good at it. And that’s attractive. Whether there are lines on your face or not.

    • DeniseG
      DeniseG says:

      Just yesterday, I read that one reason there are so few older women working in tech is because they remind young hiring managers of their moms, and no one wants their mom in their workplace.

    • Melissa
      Melissa says:

      That isn’t crazy, and isn’t ageism, that’s just math. By population, millenials now outnumber any other generation, so you’ll see them in tye workplace more than other age groups.

  7. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    the secret trick millennial women use for selfies is the facetune app. you just have to be subtle because if you go overboard your pictures start looking like a botched plastic surgery job.

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        They aren’t. Everyone does pre-screening social media research on new candidates now. Selfies scream narcisist. If anything, it is a red flag.

  8. Cassie Boorn
    Cassie Boorn says:

    I went to visit one of my mentors last weekend and we were talking about careers. She said, “you know you are starting to enter that phase where you aren’t just cool anymore. People won’t be impressed by how smart and cool you are. They will be impressed by what you have done. You can do a lot but it’s important to know you can’t rely on being cool.”

    It’s such good advice.

    • Dharma in Heels
      Dharma in Heels says:

      If anyone is telling you you have hit an age where you are not cool “anymore”, I hate to break it to you – you probably were never “cool”. No offense – because I don’t know you – but I know people who are cool as shit. They were cool when they were young, and they still are cool at 60, 70, and 80. I am not saying cool because you have to dig deep and find something cool about them. I mean – everything that cool is. Style, lifestyle, music, just the whole 9.

      It is never too late to find your “cool” if you never had it – but it will take you a few years to get there. So maybe when you are older than you are now, you may finally get there!!! Don’t give up!!

  9. Brooke
    Brooke says:

    I have heard that employers hiring consultants are much less concerned about age, let’s say a contract that lasts 18 months or so.

    Also I think staying fit conveys youth. If you can look svelte and sharp in your interview clothes it goes a long way.

    I agree with the comment about shaving one’s head when hair starts to thin, i.e., shave it don’t save it.

  10. Logan
    Logan says:

    I think if you want to be an actress or model- especially in Hollywood, then people will be concerned about your age since the media focuses on youth and people in their 20s.

    However, I think the problem is seeming “smarter” “more qualified” “more experienced” than the person who will eventually hire you. People feel threatened if they think you can replace them in their position. That is a much bigger problem for women than looking young. No one really cares how old you are as long as you take care of yourself.

    People who are overly focused on looking “cool” actually look stupid.

  11. Rog Wenley
    Rog Wenley says:

    I totally agree with the concept of code switching in order to “speak the language” of those around you. The generation gap between employees can be the toughest part in making those social connections are integral to a functioning workplace.

  12. Des
    Des says:

    Penelope, this is amazing as usual, and as a young woman in the workplace I think this is so true. I’ve had a pretty linear career path and am in the “achieve things young to look like a superstar” race, which is a good fit for me.

    The funny thing is that my male boss has found the opposite to be true in his career – he was also on the linear race-to-achieve-things-young path, and he found that when he would walk into meetings, people would be disappointed that he looked like “the kid.” He’s developed ways of presenting himself that negate some of that, but it’s interesting that from his perspective, looking older would be a big benefit.

    That said, I’m not saying that this is true for me. I know that being young is an asset for my career right now – just interesting how dramatically different youth can be perceived across genders (and I work in tech, so it’s not like we’re talking about insurance or banking.)

  13. Rose Hayden
    Rose Hayden says:

    I have to admit I winced at the truth of this blog. I am 56 and considered well preserved AND I put a lot of effort into looking fit and healthy. I do it all – food, exercise, fillers, botox, longer dyed hair. AND I have my own business because it is some protection against our collective agism. I believe in working as long as possible. If a healthy woman,life expectancy is long – the longest it has ever been. And working is important – financially, emotionally. That said I don’t give up my self care for anything anymore. It is directly tied to my financial well being! So ironic in our crazy work culture! My one tip – have friends in every decade. It will keep you aware, informed, and vibrant. And I love dots in the phone numbers – looks so much better anyway!

  14. Teach By Type
    Teach By Type says:

    When I began working remote 100% of the time, I realized I could market myself as younger than I am.

    It’s gotten the point where I question if it even matters what I look like in real life. Most of the people I work with have never seen me in real life.

    I used to dread video calls, but I researched how to look younger real-time. It has made a difference (most important tips – don’t look down at the camera and don’t back light yourself)

    There used to be an app to do just this, but snapchat bought it and ruined it for professional use. Damn them.


  15. Reader2016
    Reader2016 says:

    These observations, by age group, are pretty on target. The good thing about being Black is that we always tend to look 10 years younger naturally, unlike our white counterparts who age at an accelerated pace. However, that, unfortunately, doesn’t counter the discriminatory ax of racism in hiring, which remains prevalent.

  16. Daniaazi
    Daniaazi says:

    The article is all about different stages of ages, to avoid being looking old or have a fear of getting old early try to have good food, daily exercise, early to sleep and early to rise also another trick to remain looks young avoid any kind of surgery or injection intake. Eating fruits also another tip to keep you Young.

  17. ellen
    ellen says:

    ageism (and lookism) is sad but true, but aren’t you perpetuating it by posting stuff like this? buying into it? what about people who are young, fat and unattractive? should they just forget about being “successful”? unfortunately i’m tall, thin, i look younger than my age and i’m still not “successful”. oh well. bummer.

      • ellen
        ellen says:

        I disagree, stuff like this makes me feel sorry for the person who lives in fear instead of just living. I had an extremely beautiful and young looking friend who constantly compared us to the younger people around us. She created a prison for herself. This way of being is sick – and it’s more unattractive than a few, or a whole head, full of gray hairs. Life is too short and too long.

        • Teach By Type
          Teach By Type says:

          The aging process must be especially difficult for females who got lots of attention for their looks growing up. I imagine they learn to rely on their looks, more so than less attractive people. It must be upsetting when the attention stops as your looks fade.

          Awkward teen years were pretty tough for me, but it provided plenty of opportunities to develop my personality. Then I grew a chest over summer break and I was shocked with how differently I was treated beginning senior year of high school.


          • ellen
            ellen says:

            Rely on looks for what? People are complex regardless of how they look – attractive people don’t have especially under-developed personalities because of being attractive. I look forward to the day I can ride public transportation without creepy people staring and trying to talk to me, it has been long enough.

  18. Mary
    Mary says:

    This is an interesting topic to me because I am pretty vain, but I also actively try to appear as though I’m not trying too hard. I’ve always had a low-key obsession with youth and beauty, usually manifested in my choice of TV (plastic surgery reality shows, Nip/Tuck, Botched, etc).

    My issue is that I have a fairly youthful appearance and a bubbly, outgoing personality, and I think both of these things work against me in a professional setting. One of my male friends recently told me that “I am much smarter than I come across.” This seems like a problem, but it might be less about age and more about how I present myself.

  19. Erin
    Erin says:

    A few years ago, I stopped dying my hair fun colors. I’ve always loved the transition to grey hair and have eagerly anticipated my own. I wanted to make sure I had a blank slate when it started happening, so I could cherish it.

    I think dying my hair after a certain age makes me seem older, not younger, anyways.

    And, besides: I’m an artist. I can get away with eccentricities, like telling everyone I’m excited about getting my first grey hairs. It makes me endearing.

  20. Frank Martin
    Frank Martin says:

    I’ve anecdotally found “reverse” age discrimination just as common. In technology jobs, the thought is young people are better at taking risks. But, the same risk stereotype tends to work against perfectly competent young people in many other fields.

  21. Tracey
    Tracey says:

    After thinking about this a bit further I think the ultimate advantage to looking younger is to mentally be younger, which means having ADD/ADHD. The lack of impulse control and risky behaviour mean we never actually grow up. Kids for life. I guarantee you anyone in your life that isn’t progressing through the stages like the most has ADD/ADHD. If you’re ever wondering why Sarah or Alex have no interest in being a proper adult. BOOM. Enjoy your amateur diagnosis. So on that note, if you have ADD/ADHD you really don’t need to heed to any of this look younger stuff because your brain is stuck in early adolescence and you’ll always come off as more interesting and youthful and exciting. More so than any twenty something.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Yeah, but for emotionally intelligent people the people stuck in adolescence are obvious, and not in a positive interesting way. It’s best to improve yourself to hopefully match your age and experience. It commands more respect than leaning on tricks and gimmicks.

      • Tracey
        Tracey says:

        Hi Jessica – I did not discuss emotional intelligence. Having ADD/ADHD doesn’t mean you lack emotional intelligence. In fact chances are you have a high EQ if you do have ADD/ADHD.

  22. Erin
    Erin says:

    It would be nice to live in a world where looks don’t matter. The reality is that they do. And looks matter way more for women than men. Our current emoji dictionary is one indication of that:

    Our society cares about what men do & how women look. Pretending like that isn’t the case won’t effect change.

  23. Laura
    Laura says:

    ” … And eventually the age thing catches up to you.”
    Well, since your brought it up, Penelope. It’s true. You look old.
    Your feet are veiny and they sport bright red toenail polish — which should either be a (youthful) deep brownish shade or nude/neutral color. And your thighs look much larger than they probably are because of the camera’s vantage point. Your best asset, really?
    And that headshot is NOT flattering — RULES: no eyeliner under the lower lash line. No vantage point that makes your nose lose big; big noses = old because, it’s true, noses keep growing with age.

  24. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Maybe it’s only a matter of time when the trend will reverse and people will look up to senior citizens.

  25. Starrie
    Starrie says:


    I was born in 1974 and was one of the first wave in Gen X to get a college degree in web technology. My first jobs were at start ups in the late nineties. Don’t you think as Gen X ages, the age discrimination will get better? There are so few of us, we are good with technologies and we generally dislike Millenials. Right now oit is the Boomers still working who are screwing us by promoting Millenials. That is going to change as they retire, though. Right now Gen X needs to band together and outwit them. It is not that difficult as they are comparatively gullible and naive.

  26. Sam
    Sam says:

    Penelope, INTJ here; could you expand a bit about the strategies and the path for specialists? I feel that my age is working against me in the opposite direction there.

    I’m the youngest (I’m senior bla bla bla so I’m not that young) in our loosely coupled team and the only formal hierarchy is who “owns” the money (holds the grant/contract) but even with that there is little formal power over anyone else in the team. For quite a few years the situation has been that I state the consequence of a decision and the others shrug it off and do whatever they want and then the decision comes back and bites us a few years later in the same way that I predicted. Internally people are starting to realize my predictive powers and the fact that I make room for them to do their job so we’re making better decisions and getting less bitten than we used to. There is also a snowball effect since individual team members are talking to each other and getting better at avoiding obviously stupid decisions so things run themselves without my involvement to a greater degree.

    I’m not slamming the team–I’d prefer we all performed better but mostly they’re performing OK for being senior specialists. I wish they had an ounce more of Nancy Duarte in themselves though.

    Externally the situation is more difficult; looking at a meeting room full of technical specialists at clients I’m always the youngest by atleast a decade and often more than that. I have some grey hair but beyond that I could probably pass for being a grad student if it wasn’t for my clothes. This is probably compounded by the fact that I tend to answer client’s questions along with the background they need to understand the answer rather than rambling for 5 minutes and let them follow along in my utterly confused thought process hopefully arriving at an answer.

    I don’t care if the client’s specialists insult me or my competence–I’m paid for helping them so that kind of stuff is included in the service. The problem is that not all of my senior colleagues are media trained so meetings are always interesting. Once their tongues slip I rarely have enough clout to steer things in the right direction on the spot–we have to leave the meeting and I have to carefully describe the next 5 steps that will happen to my colleagues to get them to understand why it’s a bad idea and then we have to figure out how to get the back on track without losing our face to our clients. Shortcutting this process would be jolly convenient for all of us.

    I’m not sure why my colleagues have such a difficult time to foresee the obvious consequences of decisions but I have learned to accept that and the fact that it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Try being less of a know it all, or work more independently. You are coming off harsh to the people around you. They won’t help you succeed in the environment you are creating. There is a difference between commanding respect and demanding respect. If they are older than you, they have seen this before and may be purposefully ignoring you. As an INTJ you’ll probably always deliver great work, so with what you’ve addressed-focus on the social side more and be considerate of group choices and decisions -whether or not they are the ones you would personally make.

      • Sam
        Sam says:

        I realize that I’m asking for a lot when I expect us to try to cover up that we didn’t bother to run the spellchecker when we deliver reports and that presenters who have a 30 minute time slot should try to stay within the time limit instead of arriving late and ramble incoherently for 60 minutes and hope the audience will figure out what they meant.

        I doubt there will ever be group decisions that we should do these things because that’s just not the way most things are decided. Even if there was a process, what would we be deciding–whether we should show up in time for meetings at clients? What do you think our boss would say if we decided as a group to ignore time limits for our presentations and arrive late for client meetings?

        Keep in mind is that there is no partial success or failure, we all fail. We all get the 80 hour work weeks the final month(s) trying to put out the fire that we’ve observed and have been pouring fuel over in the previous years. The process leading up to this situation has an active decision stage and like you say they deliberately ignore feedback. Here’s the usual conversation: they state “here’s a problem.” someone states “here’s how you can solve it.”, some time passes and they come back saying “that would have worked but I didn’t feel like doing it.”.

  27. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    I like the show Younger and relate to it as an older divorcee. Another show I like is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

  28. DL
    DL says:

    I disagree with using dots in your phone numbers. That was a cutesy fad going on 10-15 years ago to go with the dot.coms. Same with QR codes. Now they both make you look like a Luddite. As a graphic designer, I can tell you there’s a technical aspect as well. Dots make your phone number look too much like an IP address and it slows down the reader’s comprehension. You certainly don’t want that on your written contact info, considering how little time a recruiter spends scanning it.

  29. Kristen Fife
    Kristen Fife says:

    Very cynical advice. As a technical recruiter (and successful resume consultant) in the highly competitive Seattle market, I can tell you that some of your advice is good, other suggestions are way off.
    -Last ten years? Check
    -Only a gmail address? Not necessarily; you can also use a vanity like I expect a gmail account from software/tech types, not necessarily operations folks.
    -Believe it or not, I don’t always WANT a 20-30 something year old for my Senior roles. I want *relevant experience*
    -Dots in your phone number? Could care less. I only see this in about 5-10% of the millennial resumes I look at, so it’s not “more popular” in my experience (which comprises reading ~500-800 resumes per week.)
    -If you seriously want to impress the recruiter, use something like and create a bio website.

  30. Disappointed and under valued
    Disappointed and under valued says:

    Am I reading this right? I am a fit 56 year-old-female whose resume and track record has gotten me through the door numerous times only to find the interviewer’s jaw drop when they see my age. I am constantly learning new platforms and coding practices, following industry trends and providing effective analysis and solutions. Yet I continue to be snubbed in the 2nd or 3rd round of interviews because of my age. I have even been told by out-of-shape 20-something interviewers that I must be tired of doing this kind of work for so long; they can’t imagine I could keep up with the physical pace at their office or they don’t think I could learn new things (even though my skills far exceed theirs already). That is discrimination. It is not only morally wrong, but there are laws on the books to prevent it. People shouldn’t be denied work because they aren’t your first choice as a drinking buddy. The term “not a good fit” has become as accepted in the workplace as it has been in all-white frat houses. Instead of removing the discrimination older workers face, you recommend cosmetic surgery?

    • Ellen
      Ellen says:

      it is the depressing reality. what can be done to change the culture? or can nothing be done because younger people determine the culture? it’s not “cool” to “look old”. people don’t like to be confronted with reality and truth (which is why surgery is so popular). it’s sad. kind of pathetic. i also don’t understand how out of shape younger people have so much nerve and confidence. not everyone is cut out for skinny jeans.

  31. Starrie
    Starrie says:

    This whole thing is extremely depressing. I am 41 and I worked really hard in my career and now this is getting in my way. I used to be against surgery but now I have changed my mind. I’m getting a necklift as soon as I can afford it.

    • Ellen
      Ellen says:

      that is one of the most dangerous types of surgery, do your research and – is it really worth risking death? no way. if i got cancer and lost all of my hair i would be bald. i wouldn’t wear a wig to make others feel more comfortable. certain things in life (and death and disease) make people uncomfortable – but why is that? it’s because they are in denial. reality won’t go away. aging won’t go away. hopefully one day ageism will. think deeply. penelope – you’re beautiful and young looking, you have 10-15 more years before you “need to start worrying”. until women stop this nonsense a lot of the problems will persist.

      • Starrie
        Starrie says:

        I always extensively research things I do. It looks like a laser neck lift is non invasive and pretty safe. I had two kids in the late thirties and my neck skin did not bounce back after I lost the weight. I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting a little help if I feel bad about this part of myself.

  32. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Just yesterday, I did precisely what you did to handle the investor meeting…

    Had a meeting scheduled in NYC with a startup. Looking for a CMO. Did my research on the team. Knew in my gut that I was too old so why bother. At Amtrak:
    Me: If I buy this ticket and decide not to get on the train, can I get my money back?
    Agent: Yes. – I buy ticket.
    Me: Text to CEO at startup: I can’t make our scheduled time today. Can we reschedule? Please advise. (Please blow me off).
    Startup: Yes, of course. Can you come tomorrow?
    Me: No, I’m sorry, actually I am completely booked this week. Startup: Can you come on Monday morning the following week?
    Me: Oh gosh, I am traveling all that week. I suggest we do via concall. My schedule is crazy.
    Startup: Ok. When?
    Me: I’ll get back to you with my availability.
    Me: Return ticket.
    Me: Smile.
    Me: Go back home. Ditch the suit. Ditch the heels. Put hair back in ponytail. Wash off my clown face. Slip back into my PJs. Get back to work online with my clients.
    Me: That’s the last interview for me – ever – for a full time job. Get real. As a freelancer, I can be forever young.
    Me: Write a letter saying thanks, but no thanks.

  33. Tressie Waillaim
    Tressie Waillaim says:

    Good Post, but interesting comments as well. I have seen people getting embarrassed because of their ages at the time of interview, but I guess there is no need as your resume is enough to describe about you and your talents. So, try to put some make-up on it rather than putting it on your face.

  34. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    So, you’re using aversion tactics to hide from investors because you feel that your utility is completely tied to aesthetics. This mentality is purely the result of a psychologically abusive relationship and a very, very low self-esteem. I hope you get over this someday… life can be a lot happier when you realize that the world doesn’t actually function in this way. You’re only following the line of cause-and-effect to a surface level because it supports your internal narrative; that without sex and the ability to attract sexual partners, you are powerless. If you believe this, than it is true… for YOU.

    Body language. Choice of dress. Personality. These are the items that wins deals. You can be ugly as fuck, but if you’ve got style, you’re golden.

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