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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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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    its hard-- wanting to look young but not too young.

  • Profile_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I think the worst part about looking young is some of the rude comments and treatment I have received from others. When I was in my early 20s, I could have written a book about some of the things people did or said until they realized I wasn't a little kid playing pretend. (In addition to having a young face, I'm only 5'2"!) All of us youthful looking ladies know what happens next: They backpedal by playing off their rudeness as some sort of compliment to you.

    Since my college days, I've put a lot of effort into trying to "look the part" in addition to knowing the part, and there has been a lot of improvement with the way I'm perceived. It doesn't work with everybody, but it helps. Another thing that I recommend to other young-looking women is not to accept any condescending nicknames from people. Several months ago, a colleague referred to me as "that little girl", and I immediately interjected with "Little girl? Don't you mean, 'that young woman'?" It got the point across.

  • Fairytat87_large_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I wish it was that simple. I believe that age is relevant in this country especially if you are over the age of 50. Nobody wants to hire you, if that is the case, because they think that you're ready to retire in a few years. HA! Who can afford to retire in this day and age? People who have retired find themselves going back to work because their retirement just doesn't cut it anymore. Employers do want young people fresh out of college because they know, or they think they know, that these kids will stick around awhile. That is the furthest thing from the truth because they skip from one job to another. I would be happy with one job because I don't like starting over but unfortunately, I'm in the over 50 class and jobless. I have a degree but a lot of good it's doing me right now.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    I can completely relate to this article, even at 28 years old, I have many people in my industry that ask me "where's your momma little girl?" or my personal favorite "Are you interning here from the high school?" That's when you speak to them with authority and say "No, ma'am. I am the person that is handling your case." I have been told that it will get better, but I haven't seen it. I just use it to my advantage and make sure that if they think that I'm a "child", then I am able to observe the situation and make a better decision about how I want to approach it and what I want to say. Then, once I say what I need to, it normally quiets the room, because they realize that they are talking to a mature, intelligent woman and no child. It throws people off :)

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