I'm very 'young' looking and I think it works against me in interviews.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 22, 2007 9:22 PM GMT
    I'm 25 years old, and I coach high school volleyball and basketball. This past year would be my 4th year as a head coach.
    Here's the problem: I'm often mistaken for a student manager or team stat, when I take my team to tournaments or matches/games that are out of our conference. My volleyball teams have had a lot of success (148-12 in my 4 years), and because of that I've been lucky enough to be a finalist for a few small college jobs the last 2 years. The problem comes then: I really believe my youthful looks work against me in these situations. I even had one interview where the AD asked if I thought I would have trouble recruiting because of the fact that I look like I could be in high school.

    How do I change this perception? I realize I can't do anything for me to grow facial hair or anything of the sort...but is there other things you think I should do differently?
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Mar 22, 2007 9:39 PM GMT
    I can empathize with you there; I've been in my line of work since I was 16 (those gosh-darn computer whizkids!) I got plenty of that, and my solution was just always to act as professional as I possibly could, and when someone made some kind of back-hand comment maligning my competence because of my age, I'd just stay totally calm and collected, smile, and respond in a courteous, sincere way to the rest of their question or comment, ignoring the slight. I think a lot of the time that actually worked to my advantage, because people would be even more impressed by my professionalism given my age, where it's taken for granted in someone who's older.

    In your case, if you just take it in stride and always respond to questions about your appearance by restating your competence, your team's performance, etc. then I imagine that'll win people's respect. At some point, once people know you, your youthful looks could too work to your advantage, since they'll make you stand out.
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    Mar 22, 2007 11:22 PM GMT
    I understand your problem because at one time I faced the same thing teaching and coaching on the high school level. The kids wanted to treat me as a peer and the AD and parents didn't think I knew my job as well as the veteran coaches (almost all of whom were overweight sedentary types). Anyway, the best solution was to act professional at all times, dress the part, and let your coaching and team's performances speak for themselves. Eventually, your competence and coaching style makes up for your youthful appearance and you have the edge over so-called veterans who are out-of-shape, out of touch with kids, or just sliding by. Your record should speak for itself--amazing volleyball success!
  • Kharlo109

    Posts: 164

    Mar 22, 2007 11:32 PM GMT
    The exact same thing happens to me no matter where I go. I look younger than I am (I'd say around 17; at least I've been told) and my height doesn't help (5'5") so people automatically assume a lot of things about what I can and can't do. I've found that the best answer is simple (at least if I already have the job): prove them wrong. I just show them what I'm capable of.

    But look at it on the plus side: when we get older and everyone else is looking like they're in their 80s, we'll be looking like we're still in our 20s ;)
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    Mar 23, 2007 12:54 AM GMT
    i've experienced that problem my whole life. When I went on interviews after college, I was often asked to leave. It was very embarrassing. People thought I was 12. People think it's great to look young, but they don't realize the weird reactions you get, sometimes even angry ones. This is one of the reasons I started to hit the gym and bulk up more.
  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Mar 23, 2007 1:28 AM GMT
    Well, 25 isn't just looking young...it IS young...

    as an employer at a universityu, I get a great deal of new professionals trying to break into the job market and many of them are barely older than the students in the classroom...

    1. Wear glasses if you own them. [To me] They connote intelligence - whether you are or are not.
    2. If you don't wear glasses...buy fake ones and wear them for your interview [I've done this].
    3. Have mentors pave the way for your interview by making a phone call so your achievements are known and taken into consideration before you are seen.
    4. Consider a phone interview first with your potential employer.
    5. Have some good and semi-practiced answers to the "youth" question. Make a list of how "youth" works to your advantage. [energy, eagerness, relatability to your players, etc.]

    Much luck to you. You already have an outstanding record which beats the odds...I am sure you'll succeed at this issue as well. And believe me 'time' catches up sooner than you want to believe.

    - David
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    Mar 23, 2007 2:04 AM GMT
    DRESS the Part

    Get a few decent / good suits. I always find 3 button suits to be more conservative and can make you look a little older. Try for double vented suits, and always go for a flat front pant. once you get the suit your half way there. next stop is the tailor. you need to make sure that suit fits you in all the right places. have the back tapers so it is more form fitting etc.. nothing will make you look young than having a suit that looks like its falling off you.

    another suggestion always carry a portfolio generally with a few copies of your resume, maybe statistics for your current team information to impress them if they are interested in seeing it
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    Mar 23, 2007 2:59 AM GMT
    I think you need to look and act the part if you wanted to be treated with respect. Employers (depending on industry) realize that sometimes you will get people who will look younger/be younger but also are the most mature and industrious employees to have because they can afford to work harder and will to get ahead. The same (unfortunately) can not be said for someone who may be in the twilight of their career.

    Having said that, if you come across as too eager or green that can be a major turn off and sign of immaturity. For example, I interviewed with Boston Sci. and the hiring manager, while he liked my achievements and selling style, was unimpressed with the fact that I was too eager to get into an industry where surgeons put probes on the spine to help relieve pain. It is important to be young and eager but not immature and nuts (which admitedly I was during the interview but you live and learn)

    Dressing more formally always helps too - people will tend to take you more seriously if you are 25 in a black suit/white shirt than they would at age 35. The reason being that black is considered very formal and for someone at 35 to be in a black suit can be a connotation that you are too serious/take yourself too seriously/havent made it/have made it but take yourself too seriously. However at 25 a well tailored suit in black on a first interview with nicely polished high shine shoes can help set you apart from the crowd.

    After that, it is all you and your personality but appearance is key.
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    Mar 23, 2007 4:12 AM GMT
    Well, I've spent my career in a technical field where hiring decisions are usually based on accomplishments. Appearance is usually not an issue. Lately I've been reading the Monster newsletters, where corporate HR managers advise about resumes and interviews, based on the way that THEY make decisions. It sounds like they are collectively a bunch of clueless boobs with no rational method for making decisions at all. I have no idea what to do about that except to scout out the previous whims of any particular comapany.
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    Mar 23, 2007 8:35 AM GMT
    bulk up. but I agree with the clothing comment that a suit that is falling off of you makes you look like your in high school. Also acting the part is probably in the end much more important than looking it.
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    Mar 24, 2007 4:11 AM GMT
    Interesting subject. I have found that in my line of work that Im takeing less seriously when Im clean cut and clean shaved. In the last month I put it to the test by growing a beard and strangely enough I seem to be takeing more seriously by my clients especially those older then me. So as a result Ill stick with the beard for awhile at least until I close the biggest deals for this year.
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    Mar 24, 2007 4:59 AM GMT
    I know what you mean dude. Nobody took me serious at all when I was in my late teens and early 20's. I looked like a peachfuzz baby which didn't help matters.
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    Mar 24, 2007 8:25 AM GMT
    Ha ha...I was passed over a couple of times for a promotion at my old company. At my exit interview, I told my former boss that was a prime reason why I was leaving - I felt I was being left behind. She said those decisions were made because I was "years younger" than the others who were promoted. Not true...I was older. They just looked older - guess because they had kids and lived in the suburbs. Sometimes looks matter, as much as we like to think and hope they don't.
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    Mar 30, 2007 11:16 PM GMT
    Yeah I know it seemed acerbic, but in this case, I'd rather side with the overweight than side with those who have a problem with them. The reason? I'm inclined to side with the group minding their own business than those who might attack, discriminate or criticize them.

    If the tables were turned, and I saw a heavy person going after a built boy, I'd defend the built guy. But NOT if the built guy threw attitude first.

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    Apr 15, 2007 8:47 PM GMT
    I have had rather the opposite problem. I have always looked older than I am, even without the beard. In professional areas, this makes me seem inexperienced in certain fields (because I was, but I'm working on that). In personal areas, it meant guys (even ones a bit older than I was at the time) hit on me thinking I was the older man. Thee are problems on both sides of things, as you can see.

    However, it must always be kept in mind that one's physical appearance as young or old is a social construct and chronology can affect it only so much. Things can be changed, to a point, depending on your eating, exercise, mental, and social habits.
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    May 18, 2007 7:16 PM GMT
    try facial hair. some people think I'm baby-faced, but when I had facial hair they didn't.
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    May 23, 2007 4:05 AM GMT
    I would first agree with the guys saying just focus on being professional and what you have to offer. The more you show up confident of your skills, the better impression that will give. Obviously, if you get to the point of an interview where they see you, you've already passed the qualification point. Now they're just looking for "fit".

    I'm a career counselor, and deal with these issue all the time with students who are just starting out (but also people who have had experience.) If you have what they need, they'll take you no matter what you look like. Granted, if part of your job is to be a public face, you need to know what they're looking for and try to emulate that. Professional? Energetic? Learned? Know what they want.

    For most of my career, I was also baby faced (now that I'm in my 40's, I appreciate it much more!) I used to have a job where I would work intensively with people over the phone, and would only meet them in person at conferences once a year. As I knew I was going to interact with so many people who knew me as competent, I didn't worry about it as much, but as I was going to meet a lot of new people who didn't know me, I did grow the beard, which did help some.

    Again, be confident of what you have to offer and what they need, and make the match for them. That works better than anything else.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    May 23, 2007 4:41 AM GMT
    Talk the walk- increase your vocabulary, also glasses tend to make people look older- get clear if you do not need RX ones. Also do not dress down! Just a suggestion.