Recruiters like it when you shave you beard for interviews in the midwest. They do, they really like it. They prefer if you do it. They can't tell you that you have to do it anymore, but they still very strongly prefer it. I've always felt kind of awkward without a beard. So, one day, about five years ago, and just as my beard started going gray, I stopped doing it. It's idiotic to change your appearance in this way, especially when it's a dishonest representation of what you actually look like most of the time.
I've always had a good resume, I get compliments on it all the time from clients and recruiters alike. The only people that dislike the way I write a resume are college guidance counselors, and people poisoned by their terrible advice, but they're few and far between. So all things considered, that factor in this equation has not changed. But since I've been growing the beard both longer and grayer, the number of successful interviews I've had has gone up. And the way I've been treated on the job has changed, dramatically. Bear in mind that the type of roles I go for hasn't changed since I was 25. I like coding. I intend to continue doing it.
People are more respectful. They ask me for my insights more often. I'm treated like an eccentric code sage, and that's absolutely fine with me. Even when I fly out to work in places like California or Seattle, this does not seem to change. I can only think of one instance where this decision has worked against me. One interview for a very hostile publishing company a few years ago, where they made it a point to ask me how often I keep up with new things, where they refused to believe that I read more books every year than their CEO. That said, I think that one would probably have went poorly no matter what I looked like.
I don't mind being older than my coworkers or project managers.
I don't mind taking orders from people younger than me. This isn't my trip in life.
I'm just there to make better stuff, solve more interesting problems, and keep myself challenged intellectually.
My biggest problem is boredom, so I've learned to be pickier in selecting my assignments.
Getting older, and reaching middle age isn't a bad thing.
You just have to know how to sell it.