Older adults are typically more established in their careers and have years of experience under their belts. However, many companies recognize the benefits of hiring young employees.
"One thing that young people have is a fresh eye. Young people look at things with no bias and a different kind of energy than older people do," says Steve Mariotti, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
This is good news if you're a young adult fresh out of college looking to find your way in corporate America. If you have the education and the skills, you'll eventually come across the right opportunity. But although employers may appreciate youthful energy and freshness, being the youngest person in your office isn't without its challenges.
Whether you're a 22-year-old recent graduate, or a 30-year-old who looks 21, there is a chance that some of your older colleagues won't take you serious or question your knowledge. This is especially true if they're old enough to be your parent or grandparent.
They may ask questions, such as, "how old are you?" Or they may annoyingly refer to you as "kid."
The truth is, being young or mistaken for a younger person can create issues in the workplace. "It can lead to job offers withheld, promotions lost and even rivalries with colleagues," reports Michele Marrinan, a Monster Career Advice columnist.
There isn't much you can do to make your face look older, but these three tips can boost your credibility.
Act Like a Pro
It's okay to bring energy and eagerness to the workplace. In all likelihood, these are the traits that helped you snag the job. But since you're in a professional setting, it's important to keep your energy at an appropriate level.
If you're one of the youngest people in your office, and if the office is relatively calm during the day, your coworkers might not appreciate a lot of loudness or noise in the background. And if you're the person who bounces through the office constantly chattering and laughing loudly, this can make you look younger than your years.
Also, dress the part. This doesn't suggest wearing a three-piece suit everyday -- unless required. Choose attire that shows your maturity and professionalism, and avoid styles that are overly casual or reveal too much skin.
Detach from Your Smartphone
It might be your best friend, but if you're looking to shed your young image at work, being glued to your phone or tablet, or sitting by yourself with headphones in your ear at lunch doesn't help your efforts.
Some of your older coworkers may feel that they don't have anything in common with you, which could explain any standoffish behavior. And if you prefer the company of Facebook or Twitter over interactions with your coworkers, this creates a wall and basically validates your coworkers' claims.
To break down this barrier, put away your phone and get to know your colleagues. If they feel that they don't have anything in common with the "kid," prove them wrong. Older crowds are probably not interested in the latest celebrity gossip or reality television. Therefore, if your conversations center on youthful topics, they may not engage in discussions with you. However, if there's a news story that's made headlines, they can probably talk for hours on this subject. Finding a common ground opens the lines of communication and proves that you're more than just a young face.
Know Your Stuff
At the end of the day, if you know your job well, your age or appearance doesn't matter. “The bottom line is that nobody cares how you look, what really matters is that you can get the job done," says Pamela LaTulippe, co-founder and vice president of marketing at Digital Music Network.
You might be the youngest face in the office, but this doesn't mean that you're incompetent. Your boss wouldn't have hired you if he or she felt that you didn't have the skills and know-how. With that said, giving 100% to your job and being a top performer is the best way to silence any critic.
Do you feel that looking young has hurt your career? What are some other ways to lose a young image at work?