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Can Looking Too Young Hurt Your Career?

Can Looking Too Young Hurt Your Career?

Michele Marrinan | Monster Career Advice

Pamela LaTulippe still recalls the day 10 years ago when she walked into a client’s office and got a stinging reminder that she looked much younger — and to some, less credible — than her 25 years.

“The general manager looked at me, and the first thing he said was, ‘How old are you?’” says LaTulippe. “I didn’t answer with my age; I answered with my experience.” And the tactic worked.

Once the client knew LaTulippe had already racked up two years at a business just like his, he offered her a smile, a cup of coffee and his full attention. LaTulippe went on to complete a number of software training projects for the client.

“Age is irrelevant; it’s what you have to offer that’s important,” says LaTulippe, now 35 and a co-founder and vice president of marketing at Digital Music Network, a digital entertainment startup. And yes, she is still questioned about her age.

Being mistaken as younger than you are can lead to job offers withheld, promotions lost and even rivalries with colleagues. Or you can turn it into an asset that leaves your superiors and coworkers wondering how you learned so much so soon. Here’s how:

Envision Your Career

In order to exude confidence, you need to develop a clear career plan. “Being credible is not about being perfect,” says Kevin Cashman, founder and CEO of LeaderSource, an international leadership development and executive consultancy in Minneapolis that’s now part of Korn/Ferry. “Being credible is about knowing what you know and what you don’t know. It’s about being real. Then people can trust you.”

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