If you suspect you have been passed over for a job due to age discrimination, your instincts may very well be spot on. In a recent age discrimination study, researchers sent more than 40,000 resumes to apply for more than 13,000 job openings posted online in 12 cities. To test for age discrimination, they responded to each posting with three resumes representing different age groups (young, middle-aged and senior). Even though all had similar skills, older candidates received far fewer callbacks than young or middle-aged workers.
One reason for this age discrimination may be that millennials are now the dominant generation in the workforce today and, as they enter leadership roles, they are hiring other millennials.
Another may be that it is assumed older workers have outrageous salary expectations.
Yet another—and the most destructive—is that older workers have a branding issue that has been around for generations: there is a misguided assumption that they do not possess the ideas, drive, or energy to meet the needs of employers.
There are legal actions you can take if you feel you have been discriminated against. It is, in fact, illegal to discriminate against workers over the age of forty. Additionally, the burden of proof is squarely on the employer.
But the best defense is a good offense. In other words, what can older workers do to get the job interview—and the job?
Ultimately, it is essential to develop your resume content so that it highlights your relevant and recent career history and accomplishments—not your age.
Here are five relatively painless fixes to combat age discrimination:
1-Education: You do not need to include your graduation dates. Including the name of the institution and degree obtained is sufficient.
2-Email Address: If you use an AOL or a Yahoo email address, consider switching to a Gmail address; it has a more contemporary image while the others read as dated.
3-Social Media: Make sure you have a compelling LinkedIn profile that aligns with your resume—and make sure you have an appealing headshot. While you’re at it, deactivate or set to private any social media accounts that you either no longer use (remember that Twitter account you opened in 2010?) or prefer to keep to friends and family.
4-Format: Group your earlier career experience in a summary format, listing the companies you worked for and the roles you held. A heading such as ‘Early Career Experience’ will suffice. There’s no need to elaborate on every job you’ve held throughout your entire career.
5-Language: Wordsmith your resume for long-expired buzzwords (please no ‘out of the box’ thinking!) and banish dated resume language such as ‘objective statement’ and ’references available upon request.’
If you have the experience and skills to help solve a company’s specific problems, focus on demonstrating to the hiring manager your expertise in overcoming similar challenges for another employer.
Age will matter much less than their confidence in your ability to make an impact and bring about change. Write your resume so that you cannot be overlooked – regardless of age or any other factor. The goal is to ensure that your career accomplishments and value will speak the loudest.
If you need support in developing resume content that makes your experience—not your age —stand out, contact San Francisco-based resume writer, Robin Kelley, at Resume Preferred to schedule an introductory call. Follow Robin on Twitter @ResumePreferred.