Betty White: Proof You Can Land a Job at Any Age

betty whiteEighty-eight-year-old Betty White just hosted Saturday Night Live. She landed the gig after a couple of well-received performances including the recent Snickers super bowl commercial and an appearance in the movie The Proposal.

But it was probably the Facebook fan group, Betty White to Host SNL (please) that ultimately propelled White to the SNL stage. White landed the gig because she remains relevant to her fans. Other famous people who have remained relevant despite the perception of age include Warren Buffet, Cloris Leachman, Madonna, Cher, Buzz Aldrin, Dara Torres, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and Hugh Hefner.

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But what about job seekers? Age discrimination is a big concern for many. And everyone seems to have a different cutoff for what they think "too old" is. Some say 40, others say 50 or 60. Perhaps we should all take a lesson from Betty White and her cohorts and concentrate on relevance rather than age. Here are some proactive steps all job seekers can take to make sure age bias is minimized and relevance is optimized.

Resume development

Group earlier experience into a category that reads "Additional Experience." Create an abbreviated overview of the positions you held more than 15 years ago. This allows you to be transparent about earlier experience but keep the focus on the more recent and more relevant accomplishments. Another strategy for older workers is to include a "hobbies" section on the resume. This can help combat age bias if you participate in sports that suggest an active lifestyle. In addition, if you have certain technology skills that prove you are current in your field, add that information as well in a section that lists your key skills and competencies. (Get FREE résumé help.)

Online identity

Some job seekers believe that by not having a picture on online identity and networking sites, they decrease the chance of being discriminated against. I disagree. If you do not post a picture in communities where they are the norm, people will think you have something to hide. Sometimes people post pictures that were taken 10-15 years ago. This could damage your credibility when you actually meet the person who viewed your profile online. Your picture is part of your brand. Pay as much attention to it as you would your other marketing collateral. Lighting, makeup, clothing choice, and an updated hairstyle will help you present your best image while still being transparent and authentic. (See Getting Started with Social Networking.)

Interview strategy

Sometimes when a hiring authority figures out your age, they draw the conclusion that you command a certain salary and that perhaps they won't be able to afford you. When interviewing, if you detect this feeling, be sure to discuss your interest in the position, your desire for meaningful work, and your flexibility. This can help the hiring manager to understand that salary in not necessarily your main motivator. The reality is that many older workers are not more expensive; if anything they are often behind market value because of longevity with a previous employer. Large salary bumps generally occur by switching jobs more frequently, not by staying with the same employer over many years. So the very thing the employer is concerned about might actually turn out to be a non-issue. Better to explore the issue than let the hiring manager come to his own, and possibly incorrect, conclusion.

Job-search research

No one is the right fit for every company. Some companies do have a more youth-oriented culture. But many do not and even tout themselves as best places for boomers or people over 50. AARP publishes a list each year called the Best Employers for Workers Over 50. By targeting the companies that embrace older workers you dramatically decrease the potential for encountering age bias.


It sounds so cliché, but it is true. If you believe you are old, others will believe it as well. If you refuse to put arbitrary limitations on age you increase the chances that others will reject these notions as well. Focus on the value you can bring to an employer, not the longevity of your career history. Leverage the latest social media technologies such as Twitter and Facebook to stay connected in current conversations. Ditch phrases such as "back in the day" and "when I was your age." Rewrite the rules.

I take my cues from the people I see making age a non-issue by remaining relevant. It's not just billionaires, TV stars, and rock stars who are doing it successfully. I see examples around me all the time -- and they teach me how to be a little bit more relevant every day.

Next: Five Jobs Where Your Age Is an Advantage >>

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Barbara Safani

Barbara Safani


Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, has over fifteen years of experience in career management, recruiting, executive coaching, and organizational development.

Barbara partners with both Fortune 100 companies and individuals to deliver targeted programs focusing on resume development, job search strategies, networking, interviewing, salary negotiation skills, and online identity management.

She is the author of Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips For Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future and #JOBSEARCHtweet and her award-winning resumes are featured in dozens of career-related publications.

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Jon Bodack

I liked the article!

May 12 2010 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Arlene Klein

Seniors, listen to Betty White. She's a wise lady!! I say that with authority, because she's a special friend of mine and I've served with her since 1991 on the Board of Trustees of Morris Animal Foundation. She's very smart and savvy!!!!
Arlene Klein

May 12 2010 at 7:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Betty White is the only reason that I watched SNL for the first times in years. She was terrific! I think SNL should bring on more of the older stars, perhaps do one a month by people voting for them to appear.
I was able to tolerate Tina and Amy on the May 8th show but Seth Meyers still stinks.
SNL needs better writers but they did a great job writing for the May 8th show!

May 12 2010 at 7:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

VIOLIN, VIOLIN, VIOLIN :::SIGH::: I imagine you are dissapointed with your lot in life and feel that children and lack of money have dragged you down. Hey here's a news flash, Re-invent yourself, your kids will grow up an go on their own (or leave you, in this case) and you will be single again. It not to late to go to college after you go out and get your GED, then you can become a drama major instead of a drame queen, and become employable by the time you are 88 years old.

May 12 2010 at 6:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Betty White rocked the house, and she is always a delight, no matter what she does! I remember laughing with my grandma and her sister about the lambswool condom episode.... with my grandma wiping away tears of laughter thanks to the Golden Girls. (they are both long gone now). I was jetlagged and sooo tierd waiting for Betty to come on SNL, but I wouldn't have missed her for the world, as she is a true treasure and I knew she wouldn't disappoint. (like most SNL episodes do!) She is class with a capital C and I also loved when she played beer pong with Fallon. You could tell that the SNL cast was so impressed and in love with her, I sooo enjoyed the show and her- that comedic timing, that devilish gleam in her eye when she delivered her lines, that wonderful warmth and love, sweetness and graciousness that she conveys... I can't wait to see her in Hot in Cleveland with Valerie Bertinelli, another fave of mine! Betty is magic, and made it look sooo easy! Love, a Betty White fan 4-ever....!

May 12 2010 at 6:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To Syl,
I think you sound like a very smart and very together lady, just like Betty. I worked in Geratric nursing and I loved being around people older than me and respected all of their wisdom and their abilities to overcome and deal with illness and disabilities...I always got more from them than they got from me. It is an honor to know older people...they are the best when it comes to being Americans.
And to you Violin or Viola...sorry you are disappointed with life. Betty's an owner, lover and advocate to animals, so in reality, she is a parent. Being a pet owner myself, they are like my children...they are the best!
Wishing you the very best Syl!!!

May 12 2010 at 6:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ellen riley

I have already put this in three times , would you please print it, Betty husband die at a early age, that is way they never had any children.

May 12 2010 at 6:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

VIOLA you suck!

May 12 2010 at 6:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

But it was probably the Facebook fan group, Betty White to Host SNL (please) that ultimately propelled White to the SNL stage. White landed the gig because she remains relevant to her fans. Other famous people who have remained relevant despite the perception of age include Warren Buffet, Cloris Leachman, Madonna, Cher, Buzz Aldrin, Dara Torres, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and Hugh Hefner..I'm 35 ,rich but still single.It's hard to get a girlfriend in my town ,most of them like my money more than like me.Ijust want to find my true i uploaded my hot photos on agegaplove.c om under the name of hot561. a nice and free place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other..if you girls see this comment,i hope you will check my photos out there.maybe you are the one who i'm looking for!!!

May 12 2010 at 6:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Betty white was funny,BUT SNL team was suck.

May 12 2010 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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