Age issue?

Jeremy posted today about someone calling him a “whiz kid” and how, at 24, he doesn’t really feel like a kid.

Here’s the thing, without knowing much about the person who said it, it’s hard to tell where the idea comes from. In my office I’m seen by some as a “whiz kid” because I’m good with computers and new technology in a way that other people just don’t get. Some of these people assume that because their kids are also good with tech stuff that it must be a generational thing. Also, because I don’t wear a suit and tie like they do, and because I tend not to take myself all that seriously all the time, they assume that I’m just a young, whiz kid, computer guy who’s not interested in “serious business”. I also have only been married, to a 27 year old woman, for about 2 1/2 years and I don’t have any kids. That all makes it seem like I’m a “whiz kid” doesn’t it?

I’m 35. I worked in banking for 5 years before getting involved in IT. It doesn’t get much more “serious business” than that. I was married for 5 years and divorced by the time I was 29. Some people I have worked with as long as a few years have no idea, because it doesn’t really fit into how they see me.

Sometimes the “age issue” isn’t an actual age issue as much as it’s a perception issue. And perception is often in the eye of the beholder.

Later: Reading the comments on Jeremy’s post sounds pretty similar to what I was saying last week about the lack of a college degree. I stand by my point though, making an issue of your age or degree when you would otherwise be completely qualified to do the job says more about the recruiter than it says about you, and it probably says more about the corporate environment and why you might want to avoid the place in the first place!

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