Resumes and Cover Letters

Forget Deleting Your Graduation Dates: Here’s How to Beat Ageism On Your Resume

Age discrimination in job search

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) aims to prevent ageism in hiring that people age 40 or older might face. Despite these legal protections, however, implicit age discrimination may seep into the workplace. According to a recent study, “older workers [may] outperform younger employees, yet negative attitudes towards older workers can underpin discrimination.”

This kind of implicit bias, or preconceived notions towards a group with a shared characteristic, may mean that hiring managers have assumptions about you based on your age. Unfortunately, these unfair expectations could be a factor before they’ve even met you, when they’re reviewing your resume.

Certainly, your years of experience and breadth of knowledge should be perceived as an asset to any company. So, while you want to make sure your resume doesn’t prevent you from being called for an interview, you also don’t want to conceal your work history. Here we’ll discuss how to strike a balance between using current resume trends and conveying a complete picture of your professional self.

Integrate resume formatting and font styles.

Even if your resume’s content is perfect, there are still outdated features you need to remove. Choose a single font, typically an easy-to-read san serif in 10 or 12 point, with slightly larger section headers. Keep the font consistent throughout the resume, as well. Remove your entire address – email and phone are sufficient – and ditch older email addresses with AOL or Hotmail domains.

Cut back your entire work history.

Most experts recommend that a resume’s work history should be recent and relevant, meaning that you likely want to delete work history that’s 15 years or older. Most hiring managers are more interested in your recent work history, and if you’ve had senior leadership roles for that time or longer, your longer-term experience is implied in the positions you do include on the resume.

Trim your resume to one or two pages.

In connection to the previous section, you may be tempted to add every job you’ve ever held, starting with your summer job in high school! However, an overly-long resume dates you, as well as being a hassle to read.

Too-long resumes also make it seem like you have a one-size-fits-all resume for every position and aren’t excited about this role in particular. Think of the resume as a focused proposition detailing why you’re the best fit for the job.


Read more: A Two-Page (or More) Resume is Ok! But Only in These Cases


Swap out the objective statement for a professional summary.

Hiring managers have moved away from objective statements, which discussed what kind of position you were seeking, because they were candidate-focused, rather than company-focused.

In its place is the professional summary. These are typically only a few sentences that focus on the highlights of your career, mentioning quantitative figures about your recent successes if possible.

For instance:

Senior Sales Executive with experience managing a large team, creating strategic plans, and administering company-wide product roll-outs. Personally oversaw over one million dollars in sales annually over the last five years. 

Add your LinkedIn profile.

One of the misconceptions about older workers is they aren’t able to use technology required in a modern office. Put this belief to bed by including your LinkedIn account. If you don’t have one already active and updated – yes, you need a professional photo! – then it’s time to get cracking on building a complete and modern profile before you start applying for a new role.Add your LinkedIn profile.

Put your education section last.

Because you have a complete work history, your education section should come last on your resume. You may also want to remove your graduation dates, as these provide the easiest way of knowing your age.

Match the language in the job posting.

Just like fonts and formatting, language used to describe duties performed in your previous position changes with the times. It also changes with each posting, as companies have different ways of describing the same expectation (i.e. onboarded vs. trained).

The key here is matching your experience to the language used in the job posting. Don’t worry about plagiarizing; you want to use the same language exactly.

For instance, if a job posting says the company wants to hire someone willing to “source” new hires, don’t say that in your past role you “interviewed” candidates. Using the same language also will ensure your resume will make it through Applicant Tracking Systems, an automated system that makes sure a candidate matches the job posting requirements by matching keywords on the resume to key words on the job posting.

A Forward-Thinking Resume.

Your experience will be an asset to the right company, so you should never hide yourself to get a job. At the same time, make sure that you’re tailoring your resume to each position and company; this is good advice for any career seeker at any stage of their career. With a top-notch resume, you’ll be sure to find a company that values you and thinks of your age as an asset, not as a burden.


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