If you are a 50+-year-old worker, you have probably experienced some ageism at work. Whether you have been passed over for a promotion, perceived as someone who isn’t current on the latest trends, or not included in the water cooler discussions, negative perceptions about seniors are common.
But how do you know which are true and which are assumptions? If you want to address them, you need to know what people actually think. ResumeLab polled 900+ Americans to find out just how ageist we are. You can look at the complete results on their website, along with the graphic showing the highlights. Here is what they found:
Though about 50% think older workers are resistant to change and are less healthy, independent studies actually show this is FALSE.
People (45%) think older workers aren’t interested in additional training or career development. This actually TRUE.
Younger workers think older workers look down on them, 41%. Not enough evidence to support either way.
About 40% think older workers are more expensive to train or retrain. Primarily TRUE.
With this information, if you are an older worker, it is imperative that your resume dispels these stereotypes. You must communicate your ability to be current, up on the latest trends, a life-long learner, and willing to mentor others.
One of the things that a resume is used for is getting a quick idea of what all your assets are and what you can contribute to the position you are applying for. This is good; you want your resume to be an introduction that leads to a longer relationship. But resumes should not show your age, because it is far too easy to assume certain ages have certain characteristics. This is one reason that “age discrimination” is one of the unlawful practices in the job market.
Even though age discrimination is unlawful, it still happens. People naturally do make assumptions about others based on initial information. But the resume that is professional, appealing, and updated gets past attitudes and showcases what you can do. That’s a good argument for making sure your resume does not show your age.
Avoid These Signals Of Age & Resumes
It’s true that age discrimination can be against the “too young” as well as the “too old”, and I don’t want to pretend it doesn’t happen. But, most of the time, the older job searcher is using a resume from years ago, or has updated their resume according to what they needed the last time they went job hunting. Age and your resume can be as obvious as listing your birth date or as subtle as putting a double space behind the period like they taught when typewriters were the latest technology. It’s hard to stop doing something like the double space because it’s habitual and you may not realize it’s not used in this setting. Some college professors insist on a double space, so younger resume writers actually get caught here, too, but if the double space is accompanied by other signals, it’s a count against you.
Those other signals can be things like listing your jobs from the earliest on with dates included instead of the last ten years with all your skills. Skill-wise, it’s a good idea to keep it contemporary unless you are applying for a job that needs that particular ability. Being able to cut galley pages apart and do paste-up on a page spread isn’t needed any more in printing, but being able to lay out a page with a computer program is.
If you aren’t sure that your resume is age-neutral, get a critique from someone who looks at resumes all the time. You could try asking why the last company you applied to turned your application down, but it’s hard to get someone to admit they discriminated against you because of your age. By this time in your life, you have so much to offer that it’s worth taking the time to make sure your resume reflects that fact.