Career Comeback by Lisa Johnson Mandell

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Career Comeback by Lisa Johnson MandellCareer Comeback by Lisa Johnson Mandell is a career book designed to help the older job seeker freshen up their resume and avoid age discrimination. If the same sounds a little familiar, it’s because Mandell was the subject of a very popular WSJ article on Botoxing Your Resume back in mid 2008. The book isn’t a longer version of the article but it does take advantage of the same idea – after a certain point, your resume would be fifty pages if you included everything you ever did. While the breadth of experience may seem like an asset, it could be a liability as employers see your wealth of experience and expertise as a liability. An expensive liability.

Mandell has a good advisor too, her husband runs/owns an executive recruitment agency and his advice was to project a younger image. So she removed the year she graduated college and she removed early jobs and dates, all of which were ethical. She wasn’t lying about graduating college, she was just leaving the date off her resume so employers wouldn’t remove her from contention because of their age biases.

My personal belief is that you should remove jobs that are irrelevant to the one you are currently pursuing. You should be tailoring your resume to the job and as long as you don’t include anything that is untrue, it should be fine. It will all come out in an interview anyway so if you do lie, you won’t get the job and it’ll all be a complete waste of time anyway.

I liked the book because it was both practical and realistic. All too often a career book, since it really can’t be held accountable for what it says, will tell you that this is the best opportunity for you to shape your career. You can pursue your dream, you can hold out until you can make it a reality, and unfortunately the book is not being realistic. Early in the book, she talks about how she ran into a woman who was recently laid off. The recent entrant into the ranks of the unemployed was very fortunate, she was given a severance package that would give her three months to follow her dream – to “write, polish and pitch screenplays.”

While a laudable goal, it certainly was an opportunity to do that, but Mandell warns that you can’t wait too long because then employers start to wonder what’s wrong. If you really want to consider a career change, it’s not a bad idea to take baby steps. The woman, who had no experience in the entertainment industry, might consider temping at a studio or talent agency. With baby steps, you can learn about an industry and learn if this dream career really is for you. Plus, if you hated it, you could always just omit it from your resume.

It’s good practical advice from someone who recently went through the job hunt roller-coaster, with plenty of examples and anecdotes to make it both an educational and an entertaining read.

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2 Responses to “Career Comeback by Lisa Johnson Mandell”

  1. Jake says:

    Nice post.

    Its tough for older job seekers to get their applications right. They have so much experience they want to convey that they tend to over-load their resumes which – as the WSJ article you mentioned points out – can flag the candidate as too old for a job. While it is illegal for a hiring manager to screen for age, it is still sometimes done.

    I recently helped my mother-in-law, who is only a bit older than the author of the book fix up her resume. In her case she was going for a C-level position, so a couple grey hair did not hurt but actually helped her application, but the sheer length of her original resume was sending all sorts of wrong signals. Sure you have a lot to say, but if it takes you 5 pages, why should I believe you have the communication chops its take to be in senior management. With much convincing I was able to get her to condense, simplify and de-clutter her resume. I think the final version was still 2 pages – still too long for my taste – but much shorter, clearer and professional-looking than her original draft.


  2. I’m going to look for this book. It’s pretty timely. On top of everything else, the older you are the more you fear that no one will want to hire you, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for awhile. I have to keep reminding myself that I have good, marketable skills and, if I do have to go back into the conventional job market, Walmart is not my only option! It’s nice to have someone addressing the issues of the older job seeker. Thanks for reviewing it.

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