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Employers Lie About Ageism – How They Determine Your Age Based on Your Resume

For many people, getting a job feels harder than ever before. There are so many hurdles to overcome, and it seems that recruiters are particularly picky when looking through resumes. That’s just one of the reasons why so many career seekers turn to professional resume help for older people to improve their resumes and give them a better chance of success.


But there’s one other challenge you might have to deal with in your search for the ideal job: discrimination.


Especially age-based discrimination. While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act exists to prevent this, some employers still use sneaky methods to weed out older candidates during the hiring process.


This guide will look at some ways in which your resume could give away your age, along with steps you can take to protect yourself.


dark background with the words "How To Beat Ageism On A Resume"

Common Ways in Which Employers Spot Older Candidates

There are several methods that employers can use to estimate an applicant’s age. Some are obvious, others are less so.


The Most Obvious: Dates of Birth and Photos

Obviously, if you include your date of birth on your resume, recruiters will instantly know your exact age.


This is why there’s quite a big debate over whether or not you should include your date of birth on your resume, and many experts argue against it. Similarly, including a photo on your resume or via LinkedIn– unless you look notably younger than you are – can make it easy to guess your age.


Education Dates

Another easy way for prospective employers to identify older candidates to potentially be ageism in the workplace is by looking at their education dates. Naturally, if your resume says that you graduated college 30 years ago, it doesn’t take a math whiz to work out your current age. Therefore, you may prefer to leave dates out of the “Education” section.


man holding a resume in his hand with signs next to him that say "Too Old, Refuse, No" being rejected by employers

Extensive “Experience” Sections

Even without any dates listed at all, recruiters can also spot older candidates by looking at the “Experience” sections of their resumes. If you’ve got lots of roles listed, it’s easy to tell that you’ve been working a long time and are therefore older. This is one of the reasons why many experts recommend only including past experiences of the last 10 to 15 years, maximum.


Social Media Profiles (or Absence of Them)

Often, if recruiters want to find out more about an interesting candidate, they’ll look them up on social media. They’ll usually focus on work-related platforms, like LinkedIn. If you have a profile on LinkedIn or other networks, recruiters may be able to use that to figure out how old you are. Alternatively, if you have no profiles, they might get suspicious about your age, as most young people are active on social sites and the older generation is not.


Outdated Terminology

Even the language that you use on your resume can influence how old you sound. For example, if you work in tech and mention a particular program that is quite old, recruiters will quickly figure out your age.


Similarly, older candidates are more likely to favor certain phrases that are considered outdated in their industries. Try to keep up with the latest terminology to avoid making that mistake.


old man with a resume that says "rejected"

Cluttered Formats

People of any age can make a poorly formatted or cluttered resume. However, some recruiters tend to assume that badly structured resumes come from older candidates. Applicants should therefore try to ensure that their resumes are neat and tidy, with clean, modern fonts, clear headers, and a professional layout.


Tips and Tricks to “Age-Proof” Your Resume

Unfortunately, studies show that a disproportionate number of older applicants get fewer callbacks and interviews compared to their younger counterparts. However, there are steps you can take to “age-proof” your resume and reduce your risks of being rejected based on nothing but your age.


Use Appropriate Keywords

These days, a lot of resumes pass through applicant tracking software (ATS). This software is designed to scan resumes and look for specific, industry-related keywords. A great way to modernize your resume and give yourself a better chance of callbacks is to look up relevant keywords and include them.


Include Up-to-Date Contact Details

Older candidates sometimes include landline phone numbers or outdated email addresses on their resumes. Instead, if you want to add a phone number, make sure it’s a cell phone number, not a landline. And double-check your email address, or make a new one, if needed, on a trusted platform, like Gmail.


Focus on Recent Achievements and Experiences

Resumes from older candidates sometimes make the mistake of dwelling on the past or going back too many years. To avoid making the same mistake, focus your “Experience” and “Achievements” sections on your most recent roles and accomplishments. Don’t mention work from decades ago, and avoid talking about technologies or tools that are no longer used.


Tidy It Up

As explained above, an untidy or cluttered essay can make recruiters concerned about your age. If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your essay, or if it looks like it could use some sprucing up, take the time to update it. Tidy the format, add clear headers, make sure you use a sans-serif font and remove any unnecessary clutter.


Remove Dates and Signs of Age

This one is obvious, but it’s still worth keeping in mind. If you want to make your resume feel “ageless,” it’s worth getting rid of any of the obvious signs of your age. That includes any photo, date of birth, dates of your educational achievements, or lengthy “Experience” sections that go back further than 10-15 years.


Turn to Professional Resume Writers for a Helping Hand

Ageism shouldn’t be an issue in recruitment. But the data suggests that, unfortunately, it is. Even recruiters who want to be fair may still make judgments about you if they can easily work out your age. So, if you’re concerned about discrimination, it might be time to make a change.


Professional resume writers who help older job seekers in Denver can help. At Expert Resume Pros, we have a trusted team of resume experts who know exactly what today’s recruiters are looking for. They can make smart, effective changes to your resume to give you a better chance of landing the job you want. Give us a call today – if you don’t get an interview within the first 45 days, you can get your money back!

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