Age Before Expertise: The Battle for Credibility

 I have always known that over the course of my career I’d be faced with adversity at times because I am a female, but I had never truly considered the fact that my age – or lack thereof – would also be a significant variable in the calculation of my credibility as an Executive Recruiter. Perhaps it was my naivety or the simple fact that I’d always been treated as an equal by my colleagues, no matter the reason I was late to the realization that not everyone considered me a viable source in the industry in spite of my professional accomplishments.

In my career, I’ve placed some of the best talent into leadership seats in Fortune 500 companies, consulted growing organizations on how to attract the right candidate to fit their specific needs for a niche role, and have even successfully forged a partnership with a major university. Yet, I have grown accustomed to hesitant reactions and skeptical glances I receive in some moments when I interact face-to-face with other professionals.

At first, I was caught off-guard by the skepticism in my abilities because of my age that I was so often met with; however, I began to utilize the doubt, leveraging that into a platform to challenge myself. I decided that the simplicity of pure results was the best antidote. I readily and excitedly accept every difficult assignment that comes across my desk. I aim to tackle it with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm that I might not otherwise have if I didn’t feel I had something to prove. I look to go above and beyond to educate myself and gain additional experience in in the areas that I feel most green in and I actively seek out guidance from mentors that I respect and trust, acting as a sponge to learn everything that I possibly can from them.

It didn’t take me long to realize that being the underdog around the conference table was actually a blessing in disguise. It has forced me outside of my comfort zone on so many occasions, giving me the opportunity to pleasantly surprise myself and those I have worked with. It has been the catalyst for a level of performance that has reinforced my confidence in myself and has led to respect from those who might have not have given me a second thought otherwise. While I realize there will always be the nonbelievers, I have grown determined to actively combat the idea that you can’t be both young AND an expert in your field.

As both a woman and a member of the Gen-Y cohort, I am certain I have not seen my last uphill battle in corporate America. Nevertheless, I am confident that my outlook and my ability to harness that energy into something constructive will serve me well in future endeavors. The bottom line, I’ve realized, is this: there is absolutely a sense of credibility that accompanies tenure in a resume (which I am working toward every day) and while nothing can replace that type of experience, a relentless desire for success and an uncompromising work ethic can serve as a healthy supplement for it in the meantime. There’s no question that I have a lot to learn, but it doesn’t detract from what I have to offer today.


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About the Author: Kelsey Chalifoux is a Search Associate at Webber Kerr Associates, regionally in New York.  Before joining Webber Kerr, Kelsey worked in an RPO environment, focusing on the hiring and retention of outside sales representatives for a Fortune 500 organization. Currently, she is responsible for managing the end-to-end hiring process for high profile client positions and leadership additions including the industry sectors: Retail & Consumer Goods, Business Services, Hospitality and Oil & Energy.

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