Can Your Resume Make You Look Too Old?

Ageism is a very real problem that many job seekers will encounter today, and it doesn’t apply to only those who are approaching retirement age. Those as young as 40 can be considered “over the hill” by hiring managers, depending on industry and job position. Even something as innocent as your resume could tip the scales against your favor.

Tell-Tale Signs of Age

Human resources managers have studied thousands upon thousands of resumes. They can pick up on small signs of older applicants, even if the applicant believes that their resume looks undated. Apart from the obvious signs of age (such as a work history spanning decades back), here are a few of the more subtle ones:

  • Email addresses. Today most resumes are sent via email. Certain email addresses are considered to be “older” than others, such as email addresses. Usually it’s considered to be more professional to either have an email address from your own domain or from your professional association.
  • Contact information. The only contact information an employer should need is a cell phone number. A home phone number will be seen as outdated (few people have landlines today) and a mailing address is entirely unnecessary. In fact, it will hurt you more than help you; many hiring managers worry about hiring those who commute too far.
  • Skill lists. Not skill lists in and of themselves, but what is on those lists. There are certain skills that simply aren’t relevant to modern industries. If it’s a skill that you learned a decade ago and haven’t refreshed, it’s very likely that it’s no longer applicable to the modern workforce.
  • Forced single pages. In the old days, a single page resume was considered to be ideal. This is rapidly falling out of favor, particularly because resumes are now in digital formats. If your resume can fit neatly on a single page, it should. But if it is difficult to fit on a single page, don’t make it!

Countering Ageism

Why do hiring managers discriminate based on age? It isn’t just a matter of energy, but also lifestyle; workers in their 20s and 30s can be expected to expend 100% of their effort towards their career rather than towards their family. Job seekers who feel as though they are being turned down due to their age may want to emphasize their dedication towards their work.

You may wonder why you should “de-age” your resume at all. After all, won’t the hiring manager meet you anyway? Sometimes it’s just about getting your foot in the door, but there’s also an important component here. Some hiring managers may give little thought to tossing out an older applicant if they have a pile of younger applicants even if the individual otherwise meets their requirements. By “de-aging” your resume, you essentially give yourself a second chance to prove that you are the right person for the job.

Age discrimination certainly isn’t fair; in fact, it’s not even legal. But unfortunately, it’s also a reality of the modern job hunt. Older job seekers will find themselves competing against younger applicants and it may become necessary to pull out a few tricks to impress.

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