Despite protections afforded under several different laws, age discrimination still exists in the workplace. One of the most comprehensive studies done regarding age discrimination in hiring practices found that it not only exists, but is worse for older women than older men. Furthermore, an AARP study showed that nearly one in six adults currently working or looking for work reported that they were not hired for a job they applied for because of their age. Because we can’t combat discrimination on such a grand scale, here are some ways you can tailor your resume to try and avoid falling victim to this unfortunate bias.
Don’t Date Yourself
Your first step is to carefully pick and choose what you emphasize on your resume. For example, include only your most recent employment and achievements. A good rule of thumb is if you did it over 15 years ago, don’t include it. (Obviously, if you held your last job for 25 years you should include that, but you get our drift.) Alternatively, even though it is customary to include dates of employment/education/certifications, you could choose to leave those off your resumé entirely. In other words, share your credentials, just not when you got them. If an employer follows up needing to know those things, you can then choose whether or not the dates are worth sharing.
Next, don’t include any age-related red flags. For example, ditch any email address from AOL or Hotmail. Get yourself a Gmail account with your name as the address, or else you’re basically wearing a sign saying, “I remember the dial-up Internet tone fondly.” Similarly, resist using a landline as your contact phone number, and use your cell number instead. Also, be sure to make yourself a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already, and include the link under your contact information. Not only is it a valuable platform for job searches and connecting with others in your industry, but it is one of the first places prospective employers check.
In addition, Objective Statements on résumés are passé; younger workers use a “professional summary” statement instead. This brief paragraph should cover your skills or what you are most interested in pursuing, and how you provide value to a prospective employer in that field.
Formatting Is Crucial
Several studies have shown that most recruiters spend under 10 seconds reviewing an application before deciding whether the applicant merits further consideration. That means it’s your job to format your resumé in such a way that draws attention and emphasizes the relevant information succinctly. So what does that look like? For one thing: keep it short. Your resumé needs to be two pages long at the most. Make good use of bulleted points to draw the eye to items like your most important achievements, skills, or technical proficiencies.
Try to tap into your inner graphic designer (or ask someone you know for help) to make your resumé stand out. One area that often separates Boomers from the younger generations is technological savvy; if you can demonstrate familiarity with graphic design tools or applications by showing clever formatting, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. If you need ideas for how this would look, look online for the myriad free templates online that you can search and customize.
Customize For The Job You Want
Speaking of customization, you should tinker with your resumé for each and every application you submit. Craft your professional summary statement to highlight how you would be an asset in the role you are applying for. Similarly, make sure that the experiences/achievements/skills you are emphasizing are relevant to the job that you want. When you do this, try to focus on your achievements, not just the tasks that you were expected to perform.
Finally, start thinking like a computer. According to the above study by AARP, 75% of all online applications will never be seen by human eyes. Instead, your resumé will first be scanned by hiring bots, which are software programs designed to act like digital gatekeepers. These bots are looking for certain keywords, which were probably used repeatedly in the job listing. Be sure to insert these keywords wherever relevant throughout your resumé.