How to Mask Your Age in Recruitment

Recruitment’s an industry you can enter with little, to no prior experience. You might be thinking from that sentence that this article’s going down a negative route. It’s not.

The beauty of the recruitment industry is, attitude and personality will take you an incredibly long way.

I’ve worked with hugely successful, ‘top billing’, Consultants who started recruitment after high school, shunning higher education. If there’s an industry in existence that truly encapsulates meritocracy and capitalism at its finest, it’s ours.

This means there’s a lot of Recruiters out there who are young in years, but old in experience.

Now, as you get older, people trust you more as a Consultant. What you’re saying probably won’t change, but the recipient will afford you more time and gravitas to deliver it.

Annoying isn’t it. There will be people reading this who may be astute, informed and credible in their career. But with an audience unwilling to give you the time of day due to your age, how can you show that?

Well, one way, is to mask your age.

And this is how you do it.

1. Online Aesthetics

LinkedIn, for better or worse, is an insight into your experience. It’s almost giving a potential business interest a copy of your CV before you’ve even had a chance to prove yourself. And this CV has a photo of you looking “about twelve” – which by the way, is the way to refer to anyone in life younger than you.

There’s no hard and fast rule of what kind of photo to go with on LinkedIn. If however you’re about to tell me that your LinkedIn photo is irrelevant, then I’ll question your sanity. And I’ll be backed up by the plentiful ‘aesthetically pleasing’ females who enjoy unparalleled social media engagement.

If you look young, or don’t have a photo that looks professional (and that’s important to your business success) maybe don’t use a photo. Use your company logo? Use a caricature? Go black and white. Use a photo related to your specialism? There are options aplenty.

2. Job Title

Many people perhaps scoff at the suggestion someone can be “senior” in recruitment when they’ve only been in the industry for a small amount of time. There are two sides to this coin.

Firstly, recruitment isn’t a time served industry. Your level of seniority is governed by your financial performance. So if you’re a young Senior Consultant you’ve probably done pretty well, pretty quickly. It’s that simple.

This means you’re better equipped and more credible than someone who’s more junior. Even if you’re younger. 

Secondly, the tag ‘senior’ refers to recruitment capability. Not, anything specifically about the market you recruit into. It’s to be expected that learning effectively two industries may take you time.

But recruitment isn’t a complicated job for the most part. It takes probably about 6 months to learn the process and another 6 months to refine your process.

For anyone who questions your level of expertise, you have the benefit of being able to bring up your financial performance. No one, however, likes ‘that person’.

So if you’ve flown through the ranks, perhaps leave your ‘rank’ as an internal title only. The people of LinkedIn probably don’t care that you’re senior anyway. They’re just interested in your market or specialism, so focus on that.

Lemonade Stand Girl

3. Get involved in your industry

If you’ve been to two MeetUps in the two months you’ve been recruiting, you may have more relevant experience than someone who’s been in the industry for two years who hasn’t.

Technology, specialisms and markets change. But so do the people who operate within them. Therefore you need to be constantly engaged with your network. Meeting people is the singular best way to stay in their minds.

OK, so you’re only 19, didn’t go to University and are up against older, more senior competition. You’ve got an amazing head start. Show people you’re competent and your age will soon be the last thing they mention. But this time as an accolade, while referring you to someone else.

4. Get a mentor

On the face of it, this might seem like a left field suggestion. But, if having a mentor can work for billionaires Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, it might just work for you. You know what the best part is? People are happy to offer this service. It’s free advice and a lot of the time can provide a relationship that transcends anything work or job related.

The hardest part about getting a mentor is finding them. Here’s some tips on how you do that.

5. Focus on junior talent

If, after all of the of the above points you find your network still unable to get past your age, you may be better off recruiting at the junior end of the spectrum.

If you’re good enough in recruitment you’re old enough. And that’s true with any industry specialism. However, there will be cynicism and judgement from people older than you in any sector too. Unfortunately that’s unavoidable. If you’re trying to place a C-level candidate, they’ll be extremely choosey over who represents them. And your young age will insinuate you’re less experienced and therefore less credible to these people, regardless of how untrue that is.

A Graduate however will not have this standpoint. Your age will bear no significance to their impression of you. Only how good you are.

Honesty’s the best policy

Whatever your age is, whatever you look like, wherever you come from you’ll have people judge you in life. It’s just a fact.

For the good of your career however, the less you offer that’s immaterial to your skill, the less chance someone has to wrongfully prejudge you. If there’s anyone that calls you out for being young, the best possible strategy is to be honest.

There will be a gap in knowledge when you’re younger. But if you understand there’s a lot you don’t know, and ask for help to get there, people will help you and be impressed with your attitude.

Even if you’re only “about twelve years old.”


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