As a young gun, and a particularly young looking job seeker at that, walking into a job interview can lead to questioning looks.
What is this 17 year old doing in my office? Are you twelve? What’s going on?
First of all, when I’m 50 and look 25 you’re all going to be jealous, but that’s beside the point. Age discrimination is a real thing. Whether young or old, the hiring manager is going to judge you based on your appearance, and therefore your age. It’s human intuition to make judgments. As an older job candidate employers might think that you probably aren’t the most tech savvy individual they’ve ever met, that you have more difficulties with rapid change and that your skills are likely outdated. They could feel that training will be difficult as the older candidate might be set in their ways.
When you’re fresh out of the gate, hiring managers are thinking you’re a risk. You may be unprofessional, inexperienced, and have a sense of entitlement. They might feel that too much effort will be needed to monitor and train. Not the greatest foot to start off on, either way.
We all know that discrimination is illegal, but let’s face it, every interviewer is judging you against all of the other candidates – hopefully for the right reasons. It’s all about comparing people against each other; their skills, experience, and let’s not forget about those stereotypes. Whose job is it to stop this discrimination? Well, the hiring manager shouldn’t base a hiring decision purely on age, and they likely won’t, but it’s a factor. You, on the other hand, have the power to change their perception and knock their socks off.
Combat these stereotypes! Be the shining example of everything they think that you’re not. Are you an older innovative thinker and tech genius? You be sure to let them know. Are you a newbie that epitomizes professionalism, one who is not only willing to learn, but also has a killer set of skills beneath their belt? Let your appearance, your body language, and your words completely banish any and all fragments of their original perception.
You also have the power to make a first impression before the first impression. Create a video resume and let hiring managers know who you are and what you’ve got to offer before ever setting foot in their office. Let them know that your age is not a tell-all biography of you as an employee.