Despite the fact that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed to help protect employees and applicants from age discrimination, the fact is, it still happens. And it’s not always a conscious decision either. An employer may see something on your resume that tips them off about your age without even realizing it. There could be some subconscious bias occurring.
However, there are ways that you can format your resume to help reduce risk of ageism and put the focus back on your skills, abilities, and accomplishments.
Try to stick to only necessary dates and remove anything that dates back too far. This means focusing on the past 10-15 years of employment and eliminating the rest or mentioning you have additional experience in X, Y, Z. If you’re a recent graduate, you can put the year along with your degree to show that these are newly acquired skills and give some context as to why you may not have much experience applying them yet. But if you graduated more than ten or fifteen years ago, leave the date off and highlight the experience you have gained since then.
No Photo Necessary
In years past, some people used to put their photo at the top of their resume. This is no longer the case, so leave it off. What you look like has nothing to do with your ability to do the job (unless of course you’re modeling or acting), and it can contribute to age discrimination. For your LinkedIn profile where a photo is expected, choose a professional headshot that reflects you in a positive way.
Update Your Email
There is nothing wrong with using platforms like AOL or Hotmail for email, but keep those addresses for personal use, as these providers have been around for a long time. When it comes to applying for jobs, set up an account with a provider such as Gmail, which is very current in today’s society. Create a simple, professional username such as a combination of your first and last name or initials. Avoid using the year you were born in your email address or other numbers that could be interpreted as a birthdate.
Polish Your Skills
Your core competencies section can also be a giveaway when it comes to age. If you’re still including 10 Key, word processing, email, or outdated coding languages, you may be doing yourself a disservice. The exception would be if a job opening specifically asked for it. Employers assume that you know how to use Microsoft Office in this day and age.
Tweak the Language
Be wary of how you convey certain information as well. For instance, if a job opening asks for 10+ years’ experience in accounting, you can say you have 10+ years’ experience, but avoid saying you have 25+ years’ experience, as that can date you. Remove phrases such as “references available upon request” or “seasoned professional” too.