The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous , and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact in ation is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I am in my 50's and worked part-time in an office for the last 25 years. My company closed and now I can't find a job. I have filled out numerous applications. I can't work retail because I can't stand for long periods because I have bad knees. How can I find a job? Is it because of my age that I don't get called in for an interview?

Sheryl B.

Dear Sheryl:

Some areas, like advertising, marketing and much of Wall Street definitely favor youth. But most other fields will value experience and maturity if it is balanced by a youthful enthusiasm for life and work.

Everyone knows that 40 is a turning point in life, but I believe 50 is even more so. At fifty, some people seem old beyond their years and, yes, they would definitely face age discrimination. Other people maintain an appropriate youthful zest until they die. I think this issue is so important that it deserves a two part answer. So this week I will talk about maintaining "youthful enthusiasm" and next week I'll give some practical job-hunting advice.

It isn't fair, but appearance counts. Most of us at fifty, especially those who've been sitting at desk jobs, have gained too much weight. Our hairstyles and clothing may have looked fine when we were younger, but may not fit our new body type. It's not fair, but it is a fact that people who look "over the hill," will face discrimination. If this has happened to you, go to the gym, go on a healthy diet and make sure you only have flattering clothes in your wardrobe.

I'm not advocating, only reporting, when I say that some people go further than that. I know a man who had great experience in Human Resources when his company closed. He thought his job search was being held back because, being bald and "jowly," he looked "over the hill". He decided to have minor plastic surgery to remove the jowls, bought some new, well-fitting suits. His more dynamic appearance reflected his personality and enhanced his job search.

Attitude is even more important than appearance. If you approach job interviews with a smile and project an enthusiasm for working, you will be the kind of person people want to hire. Be sure to focus on what you can do, rather than the fact that you have bad knees. After all, even in retail, a company might allow you to bring a stool. (This can be negotiated AFTER you get the job offer.) But any emphasis on health problems in the early stages of interviewing is a major turn off to employers.

Next week, I'll give you some practical tips to job hunting.

The Career Doctor



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.