I hear a lot of people looking for jobs and internships that say they aren’t being taken seriously because of their age. Employers are apparently looking for experience and that takes years and years to get. They are under the impression that your first few years after university are just for getting your “foot in the door,” sucking up to the management, pouring coffee and hoping to start the long dreadful climb up the corporate ladder.
While experience may actually be necessary in some positions, your attitude and personality are the key factors here. Age is just an excuse. Not just an excuse for young people either. And certainly not a good excuse. Plenty of job seekers will also tell you that they keep getting turned away because they are “too old.” Again, another excuse.
Everyone has heard the stories about guys like Gates and Zuckerberg who made it big at a young age and didn’t even graduate from university. Then we have guys like Colonel Sanders who started KFC at the age of 65. Their age or experience simply wasn’t a factor in their success because they had one very important thing in common. Young or old, they didn’t let their age get in the way.
Many people, myself included, would argue that the younger you are, the better your chances of getting a great job are. Being under 25 or even under 20 can be a huge benefit in your job search because hiring managers are often faced with a choice between candidates with proven ability and long-term potential. The prospect of a vibrant young job seeker coming into the business is often a lot more exciting than just another average employee. Some of my best hires for Sales Manager positions have been 18 year-olds with no relevant experience at all.
To get the message across to hiring managers you just need to be confident of what you do have going for you. Don’t put down people who do have age and experience, just show why you’re going to be better than them.
For example, if you’re in an interview fresh out of university and are faced with a question like “why should I hire you over the rest of the candidates with more experience?” Confidently tell your story and play your strengths against the weaknesses of your more qualified competition.
If the competition has more experience, you have more potential. If they have years of wisdom, well you have the creativity and boldness that only comes with youth. If they are cautious, you’re willing to take risks. If they are practical, you might be the next visionary that can take the company in a new direction.
Of course, the validity of these statements will vary from person to person, but the very things that your more experienced counterparts seem to have going for them might also be holding them back in a lot of ways.
Don’t give up because you’re young. It’s easy to lose confidence in yourself after being rejected, but everyone has been through the struggle and it just takes some people longer than others to get through.
Command the respect of the people on the other side of the table when you’re out at interviews. If you can’t get interviews because all you do is apply online, go out there and talk to people. Pick up the phone and call whoever you need to call to setup an interview for yourself. Show up at the front door of the business if you have to. That is surely to get people’s attention, trust me. Whatever you do, don’t waste your youth doing something you don’t want to do just because that’s what everyone else does.