My job search advice post for Life Reimagined At Work calls out the fact that some industries have younger workers on average than others. For an experienced professional looking to break in, it can be daunting…but not insurmountable:
As a former recruiter in a variety of industries, I’ve seen firsthand how some fields overweight the youth factor. In my experience, the toughest are banking, media and entertainment, as well as certain functions in technology. If you’re an experienced professional wedded to an industry that favors the young, factor these key things into your job search and career management. (And check out “The Tech Industry’s Darkest Secret: It’s All About Age,” by Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University.)
Be youthful when it counts.
What is it about youth that your target industry values specifically? In banking, many of the front-office roles have very fast promotion trajectories, so if you’re not at a senior level by your mid-thirties, there must be something wrong with you or your career. In media, the target audience is young, so the assumption is that you need to be young to stay connected with emerging trends. In technology, the fast pace of change requires constant learning, flexibility and adaptability, all associated with youth. But none of these traits is exclusively the province of the young, just of youthfulness. One executive who stepped into a senior banking role after decades in government and non-profit had authored a well-received book (achievement!). Another executive I hired into a media company from academia knew all the executive players and influencers in her area (connection!). A tech executive from one of the big brands moved into a start-up by taking on a business development role for one of the emerging technologies (adaptability!). These executives were in their late 40s or 50s but met the expectations more closely aligned with their younger competitors to thrive in a young industry.
See also: 5 Skills We’ll All Need in 5 Years
Go ahead and play the age card.
At the same time you highlight positive attributes associated with youth, play your age card when it matters. The search where we hired the media executive from academia had been open for almost a year. It was tricky because the group straddled operations and finance across several different lines of business. The media industry was undergoing huge shifts (as it is today) so each of the business lines had disparate projects running simultaneously. The person we hired….
Find out how this experienced media professional got into this traditionally young industry in my latest piece for Life Reimagined At Work: How To Break Into A Young Industry.