Lisa Johnson Mandell
Having 20-plus years of experience doesn't seem like the typical job deal-breaker—well, welcome to the recession. Someone who knows how experience can actually hurt you is Hollywood-based journalist Lisa Johnson Mandell. Even with an impressive résumé of more than two decades in entertainment reporting, Lisa found herself in a career rut after unsuccessfully trying to find full-time work.

"I [have] really solid journalism skills and experience, but oddly enough the experience was working against me," Lisa says. "People who were much younger and much less experienced [than me]—didn't know the terrain, didn't have half the contacts I did—were getting all the jobs."

Lisa's husband's theory for her job struggle was that she looked old on paper. He said that when employers pictured someone with 20-plus years of experience, they saw a bad gray perm, not someone young, vital and Internet-savvy. With no prospective job in sight, Lisa focused on carving out her own niche instead of trying to compete with the younger crop of workers.

And with that, Lisa's résumé makeover began!

Find out the results of her makeover.
To start, Lisa did a complete résumé redo by taking her dated resume and refocusing it on her most recent experience and removing the date of her 1980 college graduation.

Once her résumé was ready to face the market, Lisa embarked on a more personal makeover. She hired a professional photographer who captured her in "decent, hip clothes" picked out by a 24-year-old friend. "I never would have worn jeans professionally if [my friend] hadn't forced me to," Lisa says.

She then put the new pictures on her résumé—something Lisa only recommends for those in the entertainment business—and created an online presence.

"The way I did that [was] by starting my own blog site," Lisa says. was a way for potential employers to see the veteran journalist in action through past celebrity interviews, published content and photos.

To finish the makeover, Lisa put her blog's address directly on her résumé to prove she was young, hip and Web-savvy. Within hours of sending out her new résumés, Lisa said she got calls back from companies.

"[Businesses] started calling me and setting up interviews, and interestingly enough, I sent the new résumés to some of the same companies I sent the old résumés to, and [though] they hadn't responded before, suddenly they were begging me to come in," Lisa says.

Where did the makeover take her?

Another surprise that greeted Lisa was that her personal blog was bought by an Internet publishing company. Lisa was then hired full time by the company to use her past entertainment experience and sharp media mind to develop and be the managing editor of

She finally had broken through the market and landed a full-time gig, so she created, a blog and forum for those inspired by her story. Her new site contains information on job searching and features an Ask Lisa section. In addition to managing and updating followers on her site, Lisa is writing a book on career makeovers. Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want will hit bookstores in early 2010.
Lisa says she firmly believes that in order to make it through the current economic downturn, people need to work together at a grassroots level and lift each other up.

"If I, a 49-year-old woman, can find great jobs here in the land of the young, beautiful and surgically enhanced, I believe anyone can use the same tools I did to find a job anywhere."

Learn how to create your own online presence.

Now that she's successfully tackled the online world, Lisa is turning her attention to helping others create an online presence. She offers the five tips for those just entering the job market.

Join LinkedIn

This "Facebook for business" social media tool connects you with your co-workers. Lisa says to take full advantage of the site's offerings.

"Enhance everything on there," she says. "Fill out your profile; get as many connections as you can. You really have to work LinkedIn."

Get on Facebook

Facebook has become the most widely used social media tool on the Internet. Lisa says it's a great way to connect with family and friends, but remember: Any information you put on Facebook is available to the masses. Pick and choose wisely.

Start a Blog

"Carve yourself a niche on that blog. That's going to work for you whether you're a school teacher, a nurse—no matter what your profession is," Lisa says. Try one of the many sites that offer free blogs.

Find out what else is on Lisa's list.
Sign Up for Twitter

Twitter is a tool that lets you create blog posts in 140 characters or less. Lisa says having a Twitter account may help in the job search process, depending on the specific job you're applying for. It could be useful if you want to go for a high-tech job or one that heavily involves social media, but trying to find a manufacturing job on Twitter is a little far-fetched.

"It's not going to kill you to tweet once a day," Lisa says. "If you really want to look savvy and compete with people younger than you, it's really important to tweet."

Have a Flattering Photo Taken

Get help from a professional photographer or a friend. This photo has to show you at your best and is the key to positively representing yourself on social media sites.


Once you sign up for these new communities, make sure you continue to portray the image you want to present to potential employers. Keep updating your information—the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Happy tweeting, posting, connecting...whatever it may be!

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