I am a 54-year-old black American male who retired from the U.S. Army after 22 years of service. My wife and I have relocated to the U.S. after 30-plus years of living abroad. My wife thinks that my silver gray hair may prevent me from getting a job in the civilian sector and she has advised me to dye my hair to hide the gray. I disagree. Do you think I should hide the gray in order to obtain respectable employment?–A. Carter, Via the Internet
Absolutely not. You obviously feel good about your appearance and that will contribute positively to your overall delivery and presentation when on an interview. Unfortunately, we are a society that worships youth, but as baby boomers have become the single-largest demographic in the United States today, the way we feel about mature adults is changing. It had at one time become the trend for companies to offer older workers early retirement packages as a way to reduce bodies and cost. An increasing number of employers, however, are finding that senior employees bring a variety of benefits to the workplace–among them loyalty, strong work ethic, and experience. There are conflicting reports and theories on the start of a possible labor shortage as early as 2010 that may require employers to more aggressively seek senior workers, but it won’t ever be disputed that companies need competent, industrious, and loyal employees.
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