“We need jobs! Should we spend some of our severance pay on cosmetic surgery to improve our chances of being hired?”

Okay, it’s no secret anymore. The economy in America is gloomy and many high level executives have lost their jobs. While some families seem to be weathering the storm with few concerns, there clearly are those who have been devastated. This fact recently hit home when a couple came to my office seeking help to get new jobs. Both were about 60 years old. He lost his high paying job 2 years ago, and seemed to lose out on every opportunity since because of his age. She just was laid off, and worked with the public in a field where “youth and beauty” are prized. They had saved for retirement, but had hoped not to use savings until age 65. What were they to do for the next five years? “We need jobs! Should we spend some of our severance pay on cosmetic surgery to improve our chances of being hired?”

It is not politically correct to talk about age discrimination, and it is hard to find research on the subject. Like most cases of discrimination, those in power don’t admit their biases. In fact, employers may not even be aware of their bias. All they know is the 3o year old applicant looks eager, energetic, tireless and ready to give his all for the company. The 60 year old has extra eyelid skin that makes him look tired, a sagging neck that makes him look less fit, …. And after being unemployed for 2 years, the 60 year old “feels he looks old.” Who would you hire?

No doubt, cosmetic surgery can make a difference in your appearance. Eyelid surgery can make you look less tired and more energetic. Facelifts make you look more fit and youthful. All cosmetic procedures can make you feel more confident – “Hey, I look better than I did!” You may not look 30 again, but hopefully you will now look confident. Looking great with years of experience under your belt can be an advantage.

So can cosmetic surgery land you a new job? Not by itself. But I view it the same as repainting and remodeling your kitchen before selling your home. Location, size and school district are still the most important aspects in selling a home – but improving the cosmetic appearance of the house certainly helps buyers fall in love with the property. And in a tough job market like today, you can easily make an argument for doing everything you can to look your best.

Does everyone need surgery? Absolutely not. Surely a new suit, haircut, and/or fresh make-up can make a world of difference. Botox and filler injections can soften lines and wrinkles. Surgery is an option if you still feel self-conscious about your appearance after “dressing up”.

The couple who came to our offices a few months ago put a lot of thought and conversation into their decision, finally deciding to move forward cautiously. Improving their appearance, they decided, could be an investment in their futures. The woman chose to have a browlift, to improve the appearance around her eyes. The man chose to wait, continue to apply for jobs, and re-evaluate in six months. Within weeks of her procedure, the woman was being approached about work opportunities.

At the end of the day, your qualifications, motivation, and energy are what will land you the job. But even if a prospective employer truly never notices your appearance, you may land a new position after cosmetic surgery simply because you’ve become more confident that you now look as young as you feel. And if the employer consciously or unconsciously is registering your appearance, looking your best will give you an opportunity to make a good impression.