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I've recently been offered a role at a large company (I've usually worked in companies with less than 100 employees). I'm a unusually high seniority for my age (22) but started my career at 17 so I have the experience to back it up. (I look old for my age so it's not immediately obvious)

I don't want to sour the relationship with my colleagues as most people who are this seniority level will be at least 6-10 years older than me. Should I avoid disclosing my age and what should I do in the case of someone bringing it up, my birthday is soon and I know the question will be raised at some point.

  • Are you managing others in this role? – seventyeightist Jul 4 at 19:59
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    Also, you don't have to make a "thing" of your birthday if you don't want to (even if it's the norm in your workplace to bring in cakes or whatever) so you won't necessarily be "found out" that way. (And if asked directly when is your birthday you could give an answer like the 31st of February, the last day of Octember etc with a wink and a smile!) – seventyeightist Jul 4 at 20:21
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There's no need to hide it, or to be upfront about it when not asked.

If asked, you should be honest, however (since people can find out anyway).

If questioned, just state that you started early and worked hard to get where you are now.

  • In general, if you want to keep a really good separation between what you do for work, and what you are in life, keep details about yourself very sparing. Most people just want to talk about their own lives anyways, so know about others, and keep everything about you to yourself. You'll have everything, and they'll have nothing. – Malisbad Jul 4 at 20:27
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Sharing your exact age is up to you, but I would keep it private. Sharing that you're 22 could seem a bit cavalier early in your tenure.

Things you can do while you settle in to the role:

1. Focus on demonstrating your capabilities. If you're smart and do good work, your colleagues will notice and quickly respect your opinion and leadership.

2. Get creative in avoiding the topic. It's better to avoid the topic in a fun or funny way than to give the impression you're offended by a question about your age. If someone says "Gees, you look young!" reply with "Thank you!" If someone asks "How old are you?" reply with "Somewhere between 5 and 50 - hard to keep track."

3. Confront individuals who inappropriately comment on your age. If someone consistently brings up your youth in a way that makes you uncomfortable, confront them. Let him/her know how his/her jokes or questions make you feel and make it clear you'd like them to stop. Some individuals unknowingly cross the line with what was intended as a harmless jab.

You might also consider removing graduation years from any public profiles (e.g., LinkedIn) as these are a proxy for age and I'm certain someone will eventually look you up.

No-one but the HR department needs to know your exact age. If you're ever pressured to provide your age when you'd rather not, alert your manager or another trusted leader in the company.

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    Not sure if confronting them is the right way to go, but definitely be assertive in the way you said. – Malisbad Jul 4 at 20:25
  • @Malisbad, yes, perhaps "confront" isn't the right tone - assertive and respectful is the right approach, as you suggest – Jay Jul 5 at 13:26
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Should I avoid revealing my age at a new role?

At your age, it isn't a big deal to reveal your age if you so choose. However, as you get older, you will find out about this thing called age discrimination. There is no magic number for this, but in my experience it started happening when I was in my early 40's. Employers typically want young workers like yourself - so today disclosing this information may be fine.

I would recommend keeping personal information such as how much you make, how old you are, etc. private. If someone asks how old you are, simply say "Young enough" with a slight laugh. As pointed out by the other answer, people can find out, but they shouldn't be able to easily.

Developing the habit of keeping private information private is a good thing for you to do.

Here is some additional information on age discrimination if your interested. Its USA slanted, but most countries have discrimination laws on the books.

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