Job Hunters Turning to Plastic Surgery to Compete for Employment

Some older workers are getting plastic surgery to give them edge in job market.

May 10, 2009— -- Ask just about anyone looking for a job right now and they will tell you, it's tough out there.

With more than a half-million more jobs lost last month alone, according to the Department of Labor, older workers can feel at a distinct disadvantage competing against their younger counterparts.

Aimee Gremmo has been looking for a job in catering sales for the last six months. Looking for a job has become her job. She shuttles from the suburbs of Long Island to New York City several times a week, going on interview after interview, but coming back unemployed.

"There are so many restaurants and catering halls [that] are closing down for business, downsizing, so jobs are very few and far between," Gremmo said.

The 43-year-old believes the problem is not in her resume, but in her face.

"I've been told more than once that I sounded much younger on the phone. I've been told that more than once," she said.

Gremmo said she often feels intimidated when she heads to an interview, especially when she sees much younger women applying for the same job.

"Normally when I go into a lobby, there are many people looking for a job ... a lot of them all very young. So that really plays with my self-esteem a little bit. I feel like an older woman seeking the same job as somebody who's just getting out of college," she said.

And she believes employers take age into account.

"I mean, if you go into a grocery store and you saw a stale loaf of bread and a fresh loaf of bread, which one would you chose?" she said.

So Gremmo decided to freshen herself -- and, she hopes, her jobs prospects -- with a facelift.

Gremmo went to Dr. Yan Trokel for a Y-Lift. The procedure requires a series of injections that results in a facelift -- without any surgery -- and takes under an hour.

"The Y-lift is really a three-dimensional lift. Not only do we lift up and back, but we also lift out the volume of the skin. That's what keeps us looking so natural, and fresh, and not pulled," Trokel said. "We can re-elevate the face. We're able to rebuild that hollow-eye look, the cheeks, the jaw line, even make the neck really nice and taught."

Gremmo's actions may seem extreme but in a tight economy older workers can have a much tougher time finding work.

"The majority of older workers will say that they have experience-age bias. And it's not just something fictitious or imagined in our minds. It is very real," "Good Morning America" workplace contributor Tory Johnson said.

In fact, while there are fewer unemployed older workers than younger workers, those 45 and up represent a disproportionate number of the long-term unemployed. Meaning, it can take them six months or longer to get rehired.

Still Johnson says going under the knife isn't the best strategy.

"Plastic surgery is definitely not the antidote for older workers to unemployment," Johnson said. "Sometimes a $10 haircut can do the trick."

Gremmo spent several thousand dollars on her procedure. We followed her to her first post-Y-lift job interview for a catering sales position with New York-based Elegant Affairs.

Gremmo did look remarkably different and said her new look gave her the confidence boost she needed.

"I felt great on the interview! I felt like I had a whole new cover sheet to my resume," she said with a smile.

Andrea Correale, president of Elegant Affairs, said she was impressed with Gremmo when she interviewed her. We didn't tell her about how Gremmo got her new look, but when we asked her about the interview, she raved about Gremmo.

"Not only does she have a great look about her, her appearance, which is very important in this industry, but she has knowledge," Correale said. "I thought she had a great sense of style. I thought she was very attractive, young, trendy, I think she's perfect."

And with that, Gremmo was hired.

So did the facelift really work? Johnson said it really comes down to confidence.

"Clearly in Aimee's case, she feels better now on the inside. That's going to help her exude greater confidence in the job interview," Johnson said.

More confidence usually means a better chance of nailing an interview and thus getting a job, she said.

But you don't have to go to quite the lengths Gremmo did, Johnson said -- often a new haircut or a new suit can do the trick.