Being in the market for a new job means you’re being judged. Your grooming, your wardrobe, your posture and your energy level will all be scrutinized as recruiters size you up for your next job. Fair or not, it’s part of your total package.
Baby Boomer applicants often express concern about competing against younger candidates. So I asked photographer and stylist Renee Parenteau for cost-effective tips on how to look your best. She moved to Jacksonville in 2007 from Los Angeles, where she worked with clients like John Travolta, Denzel Washington, Selena Gomez and Chelsea Handler. She understands what it takes to look good at any age.
“Your image is critical to success, and it’s not hard to make a big difference,” she says. “You don’t have to look trendy; in fact, it’s probably not a good idea to try. But you can look pulled together and current at any age.” Being current means making sure your hairstyle, jewelry and accessories, eyeglasses and clothing reflect current or timeless styles. Parenteau says that it doesn’t necessarily require a large investment to make an impact. A pop of flattering color in a scarf, tie or handbag can give new life to your usual interview suit.
Parenteau says that your eyes and hair are probably your most important features and the ones people pay the most attention to. It is worth the investment to get a good stylist to update your look and keep it up. In general, adding layers to any woman’s haircut, long or short, will make it more modern and give it youthful movement.
As women age, their lips and brows fade, and applying makeup to those areas will instantly make you look more youthful and more energetic. Of course, men don’t have these options, but everyone will benefit from more sleep and more water – and they’re both free. Experts estimate that most Americans are moderately dehydrated, which dulls skin, lowers our energy level, and can even affect our cognitive function. There’s a reason we call a great night’s sleep “beauty rest.” Your skin repairs and replaces cells at night, and lack of sleep increases dark shadows and bags under your eyes.
Renee Parenteau is also a firm believer in another low cost fountain of youth: regular exercise. Fit is the new beautiful, and being trim, strong and healthy instantly takes years off your perceived age. “Your clothes fit better, you look and feel more confident and you radiate energy,” says Parenteau. “It’s a definite advantage in the job market.”
Parenteau is also a photographer, and she says that a great head shot can also improve your odds of getting hired. Your LinkedIn photo is what most recruiters will see even before they meet you. Yours should be well lit, flattering and sharp. Selfies won’t make a great first impression, so this is another place where a small investment will pay off.
You don’t have to look young to be competitive; you just have to look good for the age you are. Baby boomers will change aging, just as we have changed every other phase of life we’ve entered. We’re not leading linear lives anymore; we’re looping back to go to school in our 50s or becoming “gray activists.” We’re coming back from life threatening illnesses to run marathons. We’re starting businesses after retirement. It’s true that you’re as young as you feel. On the inside, we are still 18 – but with 35 years of experience.
Find Renee Parenteau at www.reneeparenteau.com.