QUESTION: What can I do when writing my resume to avoid age discrimination?
Robust LinkedIn profile. Professional head shot for LinkedIn. Omit or hide “old” online images. No serif fonts. No age-related numbers in email addresses. No AOL, cable, phone co. or Hotmail email addresses. No mentions of “20+ years of experience”. No work history beyond 15-20 years. No education dates. No obsolete technologies and certifications. No “references available upon request”.
When possible, only go back 10-12 years when listing your employment history. Also, omit education dates. At this point in the game, they need to know you have the degree (or coursework experience)—not necessarily when you earned it. The job of the resume is to pique someone’s interest just enough to make them want to invite you in for a conversation.
Amplify your virtual fitness. Only 36% of job seekers are on LinkedIn. Make sure you’re one of them. Have a knock-out profile, not a copy and paste. Make your brand strong & undeniable & back it up with crystal clear accomplishment statements. Invest in a professional photo. Make your resume specific to each job you apply for. List continuing education so others can see how you’ve stayed current.
First, write your resume for the job you want next. Pare bullets down to those that show your qualifications for the job. Second, only list 10 or 15 years of work history. Third, highlight accomplishments with numbers and percentages, challenges and results statements. Fourth, mention software proficiencies that are important in the job and note courses you are taking to maintain your skills
Be selective about your professional experience. Most employers are interested in the last 10 years of experience, although refer to the job posting as your guide. A great way to highlight early but relevant experience is to create a potted plant version of your work history. List the job title(s) and companies without years and emphasize how you’ve kept up with changes in your field.
Here are 3 strategies to help avert age discrimination: 1) Omit graduation dates. 2) Truncate early experience. Employers care more about recent work anyway, so feature the last 10-15 years, and summarize prior roles in a line or two (without dates). 3) Avoid language in the summary like “20+ years’ experience in….” Entice your target employers by highlighting your value and results instead.
I am often surprised by the “type” of client that shares his/her fear of age discrimination. I have clients as young as 38 yrs in age and at C-level positions ask me how they can protect their professional brand from age discrimination. Focus your efforts on showcasing up-to-date technologies and verbiage on your resume. Try a combination resume and remain within the last 10 years of employment.
Avoid broadcasting your exact age, but don’t shortchange yourself, and don’t make yourself look TOO young. You have experience, wisdom, success stories, and insights that employers value. Techniques that will help: Omit dates from education, and summarize your earliest experience without dates but with reference to those items that will interest employers. Review resume books to find examples.
To avoid age discrimination on your resume, avoid stating the number of years you’ve been working in your opening statement (eg. 20+ years). It’s more important to showcase the impact you can make on an organization and your ability to build relationships at all levels. Avoid words like “seasoned” and “highly experienced”, which scream “I’m old”! Rather, use words like energetic and dynamic.
Hiring managers are most interested in the past 10-15 years of employment history, however, early career positions add depth to your background. To include without “aging” yourself, create an “Early Career Experience” section heading and list employers/job titles, but no dates. Including job duties isn’t important in this section, but if space permits consider adding 1-2 contributions.
When writing your resume it is important to highlight your most recent and relevant experience on the top half of the first page of the document. You should not use an old email address like yahoo, MSN, or AOL as that definitely dates you. Instead sign up for a free Gmail account and make sure it is a professional sounding name like JohnDoe@gmail.com. If education is relevant do not include dates.
As a certified recruiter, I can attest that human screeners are primarily interested in your last 2 to 3 roles. Provide dates and details for about 5 to 10 years of experience (so we can see your dedication, scope and accomplishments) and then use an “Early Career” section to list other applicable roles (without dates). Omit dates in your “Education” section as well.
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