3 Ways Older Job Seekers Need to Act Like 13-Year-Olds
By Julie O’Malley, CPRW, of The Pongo Blog

Ed. Note: This is another in the series Share the Podium here at WWDS.

Thanks to this crazy economy, people who haven’t sought work for years are being thrown back into an unfamiliar job market. Job hunting under these conditions can make an accomplished adult feel like a dorky kid at the middle school dance (even if middle school was 30+ years ago and called junior high). It brings back that old desperation, “Pick me! Pick me!”

And when you don’t get the job, it feels like that time when Billy Chalmers said, “Would you like to dance?” and you said, “I guess so,” and he said “Go ahead! hahahaha!” Not that that ever happened or anything, and not that I’d remember it if it had.

I figure, if you’re going to feel like an awkward adolescent anyway, work with it! Think like your 13-year-old self. Back then, when you weren’t confident about what to do, or wear, or say, you thought to yourself, “What Would Dad Say?” LOL! That’s a joke!

No, you asked the coolest of your peers. And that same tactic can serve you well in your job hunt today. Only this time, instead of relying solely on peers, you might expand your circle to include younger acquaintances (maybe even your kids).

Here are three teeny-bopper strategies that can help you get your middle-aged self hired.

1. Borrow Cool Stuff
If you’ve been out of the workforce for awhile, it’s a safe bet your “good” shoes are out of style. Those classic pumps or wingtips you pull out for weddings, wakes, and bar mitzvahs won’t cut it for job interviews. Once you get the job, you can slip the orthotics back in. For the interview, borrow some hip footwear from your coolest friend who shares your shoe size.

2. Do Something about Your Hair
Look in the mirror and hold up a copy of your high school graduation picture. If the hairstyles match, you’ve got a situation, my friend. Don’t go wild, but a bit of a change can work wonders. Try a little dab o’ styling wax for a subtle bed-head look. Get your bangs cut to a more modern length. Trim your beard into a goatee. Make some little change that will give you a lift, but won’t leave you, like, all self-conscious and stuff.

3. Get Trendy Accessories
omalley_blog See my glasses in the picture? They’re fairly cool, right? I get a lot of compliments on them, so they must be. So one day, for a laugh, I put on the big, dowdy reading glasses I keep as a spare set at work. (Think Sally Jessy Raphael, circa 1990.) My coworker Jim, who’s only about nine years my junior, looked over at me and exclaimed: “Hi, Mom!” We all cracked up, but it really illustrated how outdated eyeglasses can make you look much older. It’s the same thing with neckties, scarves, jewelry, and so on. Showing you’ve kept up with the latest fashions may lead your interviewers to infer that you’ve kept up with the latest technologies, too (and the opposite is also true).

Even if you’re at an age where breaking a hip is a bigger concern than being hip, do yourself a favor and find out what all the cool kids are doing before you start interviewing. Get some advice, some shoes, and some fun accessories from your BFFs. And after the interview? Dudes, you should totally text your friends to ask, “Do U think they liked me?”

Ed. Note: A certified professional resume writer, Julie built her job-seeking know-how while navigating a variety of professional writing and editing roles over the course of two decades. Her unorthodox career path includes the traditional corporate ladder, a detour along the parent track, freelance and entrepreneurial stints, and a successful transition back into the workforce. Drawing on this eclectic background, she offers guidance to job seekers managing their own career transitions at PongoResume.