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How Do You Stop Age Discrimination on Hiring Websites?

Here are our top tips to stop age discrimination.

We might not believe that ageism still exists in the workforce, but unfortunately, intentional and unintentional bias about workers ages 45 and older still hurts this more-experienced workforce.

Specifically, an AARP study found that almost two out of every three workers faced age discrimination that they felt led to their layoffs, lack of promotion, or long job searches.

If you are searching for a job, you may wonder how you can avoid the pratfalls of age discrimination.

Your job application materials have many ways to combat negative beliefs about more experienced employees. From removing older employment opportunities on your resume to emphasizing your computer skills, many ways show you’re qualified for a job.

But there is one tricky scenario: what should you do if you’re applying online, and the system asks you to include dates for your job tenure and university graduation dates? 

Here are our top tips to stop age discrimination in that situation.

A standard work history on a resume should only be 15 to 20 years.

You don’t have to spend time fudging your timeline in the hiring process for one big reason – you should never include a work history older than 20 years. 

“The most recent experience will carry the most weight, so the descriptions for the most recent five to 10 years should take priority. Beyond this, going back another ten years (20 years total) shows continuity and, hopefully, career progress… Beyond 20 years, most employers aren’t going to weigh that experience anyway, and it’s probably your junior experience, so you can skip it,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of a career coaching firm.  

Unless you have a good reason, enter the years you worked at a company – it might actually hurt you to leave them out.

Ask a Manager Alison Green strongly disagrees with the advice that older workers should leave their employment dates off a resume. Instead, she suggests that resumes that remove dates inadvertently draw more attention to your professional timeline. Does a position without a date mean you only worked at the company for a short time?

“I’ve actually received a few resumes like this recently — resumes that list employers and jobs but no dates whatsoever — and they stump me. I cannot tell if the people submitting them worked at those jobs for three months or six years. I can’t tell if their experience is recent or if the person hasn’t worked in their field since three decades ago,” she said.

For instance, if someone was a software engineer for four years in the early 2000s but hasn’t worked in the field since then, that experience is likely to be both out-of-date and irrelevant. 

At the same time, if you don’t include any dates, Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – which considers how closely candidates’ profiles fit into a hiring – will count your years of experience as zero – and may automatically disqualify you from hiring that requires five years of experience or more. 

“Applicant tracking systems (ATS) will use these dates to determine how much career experience you have, so if they’re missing, you might be scored with zero years of work history and eliminated from consideration,” FlexJobs’ Robin Madell says.

However, it’s common practice to remove years when you finished college and graduate school.

It’s becoming more common to remove graduation dates for graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees, and other certifications over five years old. As this becomes a more widespread practice on resumes, it will become less noteworthy for older workers to do the same.

Consider creating a functional resume to de-emphasize dates.

However, though you do want to include dates on your resume, you can try a functional resume

Some experts suggest that older workers leave employment year ranges off of their resumes, especially those roles they held more than 20 years ago. Specifically, older workers may want to choose a functional resume format rather than a chronological one since it highlights your skills rather than how long ago you worked somewhere.

“Add a summary at the top of your resume that quickly highlights your experience for your application role. Then, section your resume into skills and list your experience underneath each skill in a bullet point setup,” Robin says.

Focus on including your relevant work history – yes, with the dates of each position included.

Hiring managers will be looking for someone with the skills and experience necessary for the open position. So, rather than trying to be shifty and de-emphasize the dates of your employment, tailor your resume to focus on the positions, training, volunteer work, and education most relevant to the job at hand. 

“We tend to be very attached to our experience and accomplishments and may have a hard time omitting the things we are most proud of. It may help to work with a family member or friend when you first get started. If they work in the career area or job function in which you want to find employment this time around, even better–they will have some insider knowledge to help you with your strategy,” explains Victoria Crispo for Fast Company. 

You’ll also have to tailor your resume each time you apply to a slightly different job. 

How to Stop Age Discrimination

You may be tempted to ward off bias against older workers by removing dates from your online applications. However, confusing hiring managers about when and how long you worked at a company inadvertently draws more attention to your timeline. 

Rather than looking for ways to “game” the system, you’re better off focusing on tailoring your resume for each job you apply for. 


Watch the webinar on-demand: Age-Proofing Your Brand for 2022-2023: How to Play the Game Your Way


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