How Not to Come Across as 'Old' at Work

Chronological age is a number you can't control. Coming across as "old" is. That's what researchers such as the team led by Dr. Bahman Guyuron of Case Western Reserve University concluded. Career coaches will tell you the same thing: You can manage to appear younger, particularly to employers, co-workers, subordinates, clients, customers, and prospects.

Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Betty White are no spring chickens. But professionally they remain in big demand. Let's look at some of the traits and behaviors they share that keep them marketable in their careers.

1. Get the look

Guyuron researchers found that one way to look younger was to maintain some body fat, which tends to fill in the wrinkles. What also helps maintain a vibrant appearance is keeping out of the sun, not falling into a clinical depression -- which tends to pull the face and body down -- and not smoking cigarettes. Incidentally, the group found that taking the SSRI family of antidepressants such as Zoloft can add years to a face.

2. Research Generations Y and X

Although members of the silent and baby boom generations still have power in the workplace, Generations Y and X essentially dominate its operations. That means they decide the big things like hours and dress and the little things such as whether there will be large and frequent staff meetings. It's imperative to research how those younger generations think and function, as well as what they put value on. Both generations have been widely studied, and Generation X is still being deconstructed by employers who want to retain them. You can start on Generation X with Bruce Tulgan and Generation Y with the special series in Bloomberg Business Week.

3. Use social media

Pew Research found that only 30 percent of the older generation have profiles on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And most are still communicating way too much via e-mail. Get to know social media and then get comfortable with it, at least enough to tweet regularly and have a blog. A brief introduction to becoming a digital immigrant in a world of digital natives is 'The Digital Handshake' by Paul Chaney. Also, check out the free e-book on social media by Toby Bloomberg.

4. Keep pop culture references current

Everyone at work is talking about the last episode of 'Mad Men,' and you're claiming nothing has ever measured up to 'LA Law.' Getting up to speed on what is of value today is as simple as consuming Generation Y and X pop culture on a regular basis. It might take a few months of adjustment, but you will come to enjoy it. No, you don't want to be imitating younger word choice, facial expressions, or body language. What you do want to do is be culturally part of that world and not the one in which you came of age.

5. Stretch

If there is an industry conference on the future, ask to attend or do so on your own dime. If you have to view webinars about new techniques on your own time, do just that. Ask everyone what they think about a new technology. Publish an article or a post on your blog about that, based on your conversations. Give credit to others for their insights.

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