Workers say age discrimination is real, with nearly two-thirds of those age 45 and older saying they have seen or experienced it on the job, according to a 2018 AARP survey. That’s despite the fact that age discrimination violates federal law.
The survey found that 16 percent of older workers believed they were rejected for a job they applied for due to age concerns. And 76 percent said age bias could make finding new work take longer than three months.
If this sounds familiar, tuning up your resume might improve your success rate. Following are some resume tips to make your applications age-proof.
1. Stick to recent experience
When you’ve got decades of work under your belt, it makes sense to think your resume is the place to advertise it. But what you’ve been doing all your life isn’t as important as what you’ve done lately.
The last 10 to 15 years of experience should suffice to showcase your abilities and knowledge.
You also don’t need to “date” yourself by listing when you graduated. Instead, just mention the school from which you graduated without listing the year.
If there’s something further back you find relevant to a current application, consider summarizing your experience at the top of your resume. You also might drop a mention of that older job in a cover letter or during a relevant interview moment, when you can frame the context better.
2. Keep it short
Focusing on recent history also gives you more room to detail career successes without ballooning your resume beyond anything anyone wants to read.
No matter how long you’ve been working, you don’t want a resume that takes up more than a page or two, depending on the position. Unless you’re specifically asked for a full CV, don’t offer one.
Don’t include a statement of objectives. Like everybody else who’s job-hunting, your objective is to get a job and do it well. But a one- or two-sentence executive summary of your experience and the value you provide can make you stand out from younger applicants.
3. Make it digestible
Hiring managers likely will only skim your resume the first time they see it, so make it easy to skim. Use bullet points. Put the most important stuff first. Use bold or larger text to separate sections, and make smart use of space.
Keep a template of your resume and consider small tweaks — tailored to each job for which you apply — that highlight the most relevant qualifications. Focus on accomplishments more than responsibilities. Avoid jargon and unusual acronyms. Proofread for anything that sounds outdated.
4. Evaluate your tech skills and credentials
If your field requires certifications or knowledge of industry-standard software, include evidence of your proficiency on your resume.
Things that are now considered basic computer literacy probably shouldn’t appear on the resume. So, don’t tell prospective employers that you know Microsoft Office, unless you’re an Excel whiz who understands the arcane arts of VLOOKUP and pivot tables. If you’re not looking at a transcribing job, typing speed isn’t worth mentioning.
If you need to brush up on skills, there are a lot of free places to learn online. Your local library may also offer free access to paid online courses, as we explain in “Stop Paying for These 10 Things That Are Free With a Library Card.”
5. Consider changing your email address
Remember when phones didn’t require an area code for local calls, so people would include it in parentheses, if at all? There’s a similar kind of age marker with email — the domain you use.
If your email address still ends in yahoo.com, hotmail.com or aol.com, hiring managers might worry you’re still living in the 1990s. Gmail.com and outlook.com are both free and considered current, professional options.
6. Make sure LinkedIn mirrors your resume
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one. It’s like a free Facebook page for job-seekers, and you should expect hiring managers to take a peek even if they don’t ask you for a link to your LinkedIn profile.
Update it to reflect your polished and pared resume. It would be a shame to put all that work in, so to speak, only to have your LinkedIn account still showing details that age you.
Remember to keep it current. Even when you’re not actively looking for a job, there are always recruiters actively looking to fill them.
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