I wish I could say that age discrimination in hiring does not exist. Now that I’m in my 40’s (gulp), this is a topic that affects me personally. I can tell you both as a career coach as well as a recent job seeker that it matters what you put (and don’t put) on your resume.
Recruiters and hiring managers are not trying to deliberately discriminate against you. But if you’ve got outdated technology or jobs from the 20th century listed on your resume, for example, you might be setting yourself up for negative bias.
The good news is that you can easily combat age discrimination in hiring by using four simple resume tricks:
Resume Trick #1: Don’t be a dinosaur
If you still have a Yahoo or AOL email account I recommend setting up a new, free Gmail account STAT. There is no shame in using archaic email addresses. However, if a recruiter sees it listed on your resume they might wonder if you’re up to speed on technology.
Similarly, if you have outdated technology or tools listed anywhere on your resume, it’s probably time to do a complete resume makeover to avoid age discrimination. You don’t have to hire a fancy resume writer and pay lots of money. The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Resume is a comprehensive, free guide that walks you through how to write each section of your resume.
See related: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Cover Letter and The Ultimate Guide to Job Search
Resume Trick #2: Remove outdated information
The general rule of thumb is to not include any jobs more than 10 years old. But there is an exception to that rule. Let’s say you worked at a job 12 years ago that’s somewhat or directly related to the job or industry you’re applying in. Should you include it? Absolutely!
For jobs that are more than ten years old and somewhat relevant to your career goal, you can include a section on your resume titled “Additional Work Experience.” List basic information like your title, company name, and omit the dates.
It should be noted that under your “Work Experience” category where you list your most recent experience, you should include dates. Most Fortune 500 companies, and even small to medium-sized companies use ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems to scan and parse resumes. Having dates listed next to your work experience (month and year) gives your resume a higher score.
To confuse you further, under your education section you do not have to list your date of college or graduate school graduation. This is a simple and easy way to reduce the chance for age discrimination based on your resume. I realize on applications this information is required, but on the resume there are no hard and fast rules.
See related: Is Your Resume ATS-Friendly and Five Tips for Minimizing Employment Gaps on a Resume
Resume Trick #3: Brand yourself
If you don’t know what “brand yourself” means, it’s probably high time you work on branding yourself! Your brand is basically who you are and what value and passion you bring to your field.
What sets you apart from the thousands of other nurses, or educators, or financial analysts? What energizes and inspires you? What are you recognized or known for?
On your resume you can brand yourself two main ways:
- Your professional summary at the top of your resume is a great place to start. Use adjectives to describe who you are and what you have accomplished. However, be careful not to use too many generic buzzwords or jargon like “strong team player” or “exceptional communication skills.” Set yourself apart by showing rather than telling and providing details about your experience and skills.
- Under your work experience and education you can highlight your biggest achievements. Try not to just list job duties. Again, what sets you apart? How did you specifically contribute to the improvement of the company or organization? What problems did you solve or help solve? How would customers or clients describe you?
Your LinkedIn profile is another great place to market your unique brand and show that you’re up on the latest trends. Try not to just repeat or copy and paste your resume into your profile. Your LI profile should complement your resume and paint a more personal picture of who you are and what makes you shine. For more on how to build your LinkedIn profile, check out Four Simple Strategies for Landing Unadvertised Jobs.
Being mindful of what you write on your resume and how you write it will not only make your background shine, but it will also dramatically reduce the possibility of age discrimination!