Silicon Valley, Ageism, and Hipster Jeans

A friend’s husband was laid off, and he had trouble finding another job.  Was he unskilled?  Hardly–he has a Stanford MBA and an engineering Ph.D.  The real problem, they realized, is that he was the father of two boys in college, and dressed that way.

My friend gave her husband a makeover–new haircut, trendy jeans, hipster glasses.  Pretty soon, he found another job, with a hot company that was looking for a top-tier MBA with an engineering background.

We’d like to believe that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, but what does it mean that a Stanford MBA can spend a year looking for a job, and only find one after dressing like his sons?

He was fortunate that his wife is a stylish lady with great fashion sense, but do we really need to call in the fashionistas simply to help older people a job interview?

Unless you die young, you’re all going to be old someday.  Better to do something about ageism while you’re young, rather than wait until you’re old enough to be the victim.

4 thoughts on “Silicon Valley, Ageism, and Hipster Jeans

  1. i blame his unemployment on his wife. If she was such a "stylish lady with great fashion sense" how did she every let him turn into a middle aged schlub in the first place! 🙂

    — current middle aged schlub, without the makeover.

  2. Good point, Mark! I think like many husbands, he resisted changing his wardrobe until desperate. Some men love their pleated khakis.

  3. Anonymous

    What if this guy wore blue socks for the first time in his life. Would you then say he got the job because of his blue socks? I'm an '07 HBS grad and am skilled at correlation problems.

  4. Hi Chris
    Interesting article.
    I just came back from NY and I realized that here in Europe people look and behave older very early, which means it is exactly the opposite of Silicon Valley.

    Now my question is: WHY?
    I hope you can share some thoughts on this issue, why people want (or have to?) behave and look like a youngster (as long as possible) while in Europe you are expected to grow old fast and behave likewise?

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