Are You Giving Away Your Age on Your Resume?

(Originally posted on LinkedIn 7/27/2016)

ageSome wonder whether or not is it true that age is really a factor in getting a job. A new study revealed that older candidates considered for jobs were less likely to receive a call back or an interview.

Over the past few years, age discrimination against older candidates has been on the rise in the United States. Pew Research Center conducted a recent study that reported an increase in older candidates applying for jobs; and between 2008 and 2016 18.8% (ages 65 and older, or nearly 9 million) are employed-full-time or part-time. At the same time, college students age of 35 and older are seeking degree programs to compete with younger candidates while college students ages 25 and younger and entering college at a rapid pace.

So for the the older job seekers that attend my career workshops, I talk about six areas on your resume that can give away your age or the ability to receive a call back. They are:

  • Outdated or Misunderstood Email Address/Phone Number
  • Poor writing skills or Outdated Verbiage
  • Number of Jobs Held, Listing Too Many Job Tasks
  • Lack of technical skills for your job
  • Poor Online Business Profile or none at all
  • Lack of New Skills in between jobs, or retired looking for re-entry

It is important to have a universal but unique resume so that the reader is only focused on your experience, ability to meet job requirements, and not age. Below are some quick solutions:

Outdated or Misunderstood Email Address: Using outdated email address domains such as AOL, Juno, Hotmail, this is a clear indication of your age. It is more effective to have a neutral email address like Gmail or Yahoo. Refrain from using email addresses that are hard to read or understand.  Create another alias that is easily understood and linked to your original email address.

Phone Number: Long gone are the days of using two telephone numbers. Younger generation normally use one telephone number. Using too many telephone numbers can become confusing; and job opportunities could be missed.

Privacy tip: Although mailing address is not an indication of age, however, having both a name and mailing address along on a resume can result in an increased risk of identity theft. Once this information is out there, it is floating around through the internet, job search engines, and companies and seen by an unknown number of people resulting in a higher chance of theft. List only a first and last name, Gmail email address, and one good phone number, that’s it. When a valid job offer is presented and accepted, this information can be disclosed.

Poor Writing Skills and Outdated Verbiage: A resume must be free of grammar mistakes, misspelling and formatting issues. Otherwise, it can come across as being rushed not properly prepared. Hiring managers are hesitant on hiring candidate with bad writing skills. It is worth the money to have a resume re-written if necessary. Poorly written resume can cost someone to miss out on potential call backs or interviews.

Number of Jobs Held, Listing Too Many Job Tasks:  In an effort to get a job, some put too much information from past experiences on a resume. This can also tell an age because the candidate is trying to overly impress the reader with experience. Not only can this clutter the resume, but it will make it harder to read and discern how the candidate will fit into the new work environment. Try this instead:

If you have experience dating back more than 10 years, list the most recent and relevant experiences directly related to the job you’re seeking. Other experience can be listed under a title called “Other Professional Work Experiences”, then list your job title, company name, city, state and time period; that’s it and no job description necessary. However, if those jobs are not related or have no relevance, leave it off. These are jobs you can explain during the interview process.

Lack of technical skills for your job: Another tall tale sign is in addition of putting too much information, the resume also displays a lack of technical skills. So, if someone has 30 years of experience and cannot list skills such as software, hardware or COTS applications, this sends a red flag to the recruiter that there are inconsistencies in the resume. A balance is needed to show the ability to do the task, and how or what was used to perform the task. If there is a lack of technical skills, it is best to leave this section off the resume. I have resumes with tons of experience and listed there was MS Office and nothing else.

Resume tip: Put the skills, education and training information on the last page of the resume. Let your work experience speak for itself keeping the reader focused on your experiences; and let the skills, education and training show how and what supported the expertise.

Poor Online Business Profile or none at all:  LinkedIn is the number business networking social media platform in the world. People not only network with each other, but often jobs are offered and business transaction happen on a daily basis. A LinkedIn profile displays a digital resume, network connection as well as what type of people are connected. Additionally, people often vet others through endorsements and recommendation which shows what they think. Therefore, LinkedIn is one to strongly consider. Altering other social media privacy setting is strongly recommended. Controlling what others know can increase the ability to land a job quickly because the reader is focused on your experienced and not personal posts via other social media channels.

Lack of New Skills in between jobs, or retired looking for re-entry: If at some point, re-entry is an option, consider staying active and keep your skills relevant through contracting working, or volunteering services so that there is something to talk about during the interview process. It is a lot more difficult to explain gaps in employment if there were no new skills learned during that time.