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Tweak Your Resume – And Reduce Chances of Age Discrimination in the Hiring Process

It’s not uncommon for older workers to experience layoffs before they’re ready to retire—either financially or professionally. If you find yourself in the job market again after a decades-long career, you may face more challenges than a younger worker in a similar position.

The benefits you bring in terms of experience may be outweighed by the drawbacks posed by age discrimination—which is difficult to prove, even though it’s illegal. Employers may worry that older workers are more expensive—in both health care costs and salary expectations—as well as being a less sound investment, as they will retire sooner than a younger employee. Because of these preconceived ideas, it’s essential not to let your resume give away your age. Here are a few tips for avoiding age discrimination in developing your resume.

Leave older dates off the resume

Senior Jobs

Landing a new job isn’t easy at any age—but it can be particularly challenging for older workers.

It’s a good idea to only provide details on the jobs you’ve held in the last fifteen to twenty years, at the latest. But it’s also recommended to leave off any date prior to 1990—anywhere on the resume. That includes the date you earned your degree, served in the military, published an article, won an award—anything. You can still include this information, if it’s relevant, without the dates. If you worked for a high-profile company or held a key job in the 80’s, include a brief career note at the end that states it among your additional experience—without including the dates. Offer details upon request.

Leave off older, legacy technologies and systems

This is particularly relevant to those in technical fields where the technology is always changing. Avoid listing your knowledge and expertise with technologies that are decades out of date—unless you know without a doubt that job requires knowledge of these technologies – don’t list them on your resume, you may want to describe yourself as having 25, 30, or even 40 years of experience. Don’t do it. That will automatically make you look older and can work against you as much as it could work for you. Even if the truth is that you have 35 years of experience in the industry, never describe yourself as having more than 20 years under your belt.

Give older experience less visual emphasis

It’s the most recent decade that’s the most important to hiring managers. Even if your most impressive achievements occurred in the earlier years of your experience, including it is likely to hurt rather than help you—as hiring managers may see it as irrelevant to today’s requirements. Keep the descriptions of your older positions much briefer than those for your more recent jobs.

Omit family details

For instance, there is no reason to include on your resume that you are married, with three children and five grandchildren. This type of information can only serve to give interviewers a reason to disqualify you before they’ve given you a chance.

Leave off personal details that may provide red flags

This goes beyond keeping gyour birthday off the list. Don’t list hobbies and associations that may give away your age—for instance, don’t say that you’re a member of the AARP or any sort of seniors club.

Landing a new job isn’t easy at any age—but it can be particularly challenging for older workers. Don’t let your resume work against you—omit any date later than the 1990’s, everywhere in the resume. Get rid of obsolete technologies and don’t overemphasize your earlier positions, even if that’s when the achievements you’re most proud of occurred. Highlight the more recent past, and you’re much more likely to avoid the possibility of age discrimination.