We all know that discriminating against older workers due to their age is against the law, right? That may be true, but age bias in hiring seems to be alive and well in the U.S. Ask any worker over the age of 55 if she or he has felt discriminated against in the workplace or while trying to find employment and, in most cases, you will get a “yes” for an answer.
One of the best ways to minimize the impact of age bias during a job search for an older worker is to create a resume document that downplays the age issue. A carefully and strategically crafted resume that takes into account these five tips will go a long way toward improving the competitiveness of older workers in the job market.
1. Avoid documentation of work history beyond 15 years or so. It seems reasonable to think that a long, detailed work history would be compelling to prospective employers. However, this assumption is incorrect and can be fatal to a job search for older workers. Employers rarely prioritize employment positions that go back more than 15 years, and covering these earlier positions can be a red flag regarding the age of an applicant.
2. Leave off dates for education and training. Unless an academic degree has been completed in the last few years, it is accepted practice in resume writing to leave dates off. This is also true of certifications, licensure, and training, although it is important to include expiration dates if applicable. It is also critical to avoid phrases, such as “20 years of experience” in the resume narrative.
3. Reference computer and internet skills to demonstrate an understanding of current technologies. Older workers need to demonstrate to prospective employers that they are technology-savvy. A great way to do this is to document proficiency with Microsoft and Mac operating systems and related applications. This is also true for social media tools found on the internet, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
4. Obtain a professionally written resume that is sensitive to current trends in content and appearance. Resume writing has evolved over time and documents that use outdated approaches are a red flag to employers. Some of these problematic approaches include long, drawn out narratives that focus on what someone did and not what she/he accomplished; use of an objective statement instead of an opening summary of skills and achievements; and use of phrases, such as “References Available Upon Request.”
5. Learn how to upload the resume document to an employer’s web site. It is becoming more common for employers to require applicants to upload their resumes to a company web site. Resume documents that need to be cut and pasted into websites need to be converted to text (ASCII) format in order to avoid major formatting problems. It is very important to understand how to do this conversion or to know someone who can do it.
Any job search by an older worker requires sensitivity to these five resume writing tips to be successful. While it is certainly possible for anyone to create a professionally written resume that takes these tips into account, identifying and using a professional resume writer should be considered.