Job seekers and ageism is not a new concern. However, with an increase in job applicants for every opportunity, it is important for job seekers with significant experience to understand ageism and techniques to combat it. This starts with having a résumé that minimizes bias by de-emphasizing age.
Before we dive into the 8 résumé tips for older workers, let’s define what ageism is and how prevalent it is in the workplace.
Ageism in the workplace is the stereotyping, discrimination or prejudice against potential employees based on their age. According to an AARP survey, 76% of older workers see age discrimination as a hurdle in finding a new job.
There are many things you can do to help reduce the focus on your age. Below are 8 résumé tips for older workers that are specifically designed to minimize the focus on your age and increase the focus on your value.
1) Truncate your experience after 10-15 years.
Only list your most recent experience with full details and dates. You can add an “Additional Education” or “Early Career” section which only includes job titles and company names, no dates, for your older experience. There is no requirement that you list every job, along with the dates of employment, on your résumé.
If you have great accomplishments from older positions that you want to highlight, add them in a “Career Highlights” or “Key Accomplishments” section. Keep the majority of the focus on recent accomplishments and only incorporate relevant and significant older accomplishments (without dates).
2) Use an ATS friendly, yet contemporary or modern résumé format.
An ATS friendly résumé means that the artificial intelligence in an HR system can read, scan, and interpret the content on your résumé. If your résumé does not score high enough by the ATS, a human may never even see it. Avoid graphics, unusual fonts, multiple columns, etc. You should also avoid using templates unless you can confirm ATS friendliness. Many templates available online are designed for human eyes not ATS algorithms.
3) Remove education dates if more than 5-10 years in the past.
While you may be required to disclose your graduation date(s) in an online application, you don’t have to do so on a résumé. If you don’t want to manually enter the dates when you apply online, here is a tip. Add the date(s) on your résumé and turn the font white (or whatever color the background is). The ATS will be able to read and parse the dates into the system yet the human eye will not see your date(s).
4) Optimize your résumé with relevant keywords and accomplishments.
Include relevant words throughout your résumé. An ATS can’t score your résumé high if it can’t identify relevant content. If a skill is mentioned multiple times in a job posting, you should list it multiple times in your résumé. However, you should not copy and paste the job description into your résumé. Use your own words and experience. The need for keyword optimization is one reason it is important that you customize your résumé for every application.
5) Use a current email address.
Some email addresses are considered less modern, such as Hotmail addresses. If you have an old email address, consider updating it. You can create a free email address specifically for your job search. This not only keeps you looking modern, but it can also help you stay organized by having all job-related content in one inbox. Use your name in part of the handle and keep it professional.
6) Include URLs for professional social media or networking accounts on your résumé.
Some employers assume that highly experienced workers are out of touch with modern tools and trends. You can help diffuse this by adding links to your professional profile accounts, such as your blog or LinkedIn page. You should only include links to professional sites, not personal. Keep those sites and profiles up to date with valuable content. For some platforms, like LinkedIn, you will want to add a profile picture. You can use a filter to soften your profile image if you are concerned the picture will draw attention to your age.
7) Include a relevant and impactful summary, value proposition or career profile in lieu of an objective.
Objectives are an outdated résumé trend. Focus on what you have to offer the company, not what you want from them. Modern résumés include a summary, career profile or value proposition statement instead. These statements tell a potential employer what value you have to offer them. These concise statements, typically 1-5 lines, appear at the top of your résumé under your headline and contact information.
8) Add a technical skills section or incorporate technology references into your experience.
Demonstrate your proficiency with current technology. If you have a lot of technical skills, adding a technical skills section can be beneficial. If you only have a few technical skills, incorporate them into your job descriptions and accomplishments, or a competency section.
These résumé tips for older workers can reduce the age bias during the job application process. After all, your résumé lands the interview and your interview lands the job.