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.
One of the most difficult positions people can find themselves in is to be unemployed towards the end of their career. Many people think that the best option is to take early retirement if possible. This is not only untrue, but it can also be devastating to your financial goals. Older workers, those over 45, have a great deal to offer and most corporations recognize this. They actively recruit end-of-career hires because of the dedication and stability that they bring to a team. It has long been assumed that the most desirable age for a new worker is between 23 and 25.This is no longer the case in most fields! Longevity is now being seen as a positive. Consider that on the resume of someone who has been in the workforce for 20 years a hiring manager has a tremendous amount of information about the person before ever meeting him. The manager can see how stable his employment has been, what types of projects he or she been working on and for how long; having decades of experience is always a positive trait. If you are an over 45 worker that suddenly finds yourself looking for a new position, play up your longevity. Make sure you are familiar with all the latest trends. This is where networking is great because it will help you be sure you haven’t missed anything important. Then play up your contacts, your education and your projects. Use your wisdom and skill to your advantage and in no time you will be employed again, and perhaps in an even better position than you thought possible.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, protects workers 40 and older from age discrimination with respect to any aspect of employment:hiring, firing, job assignments, salaries, career advancement, benefits and other aspects. However, age discrimination is difficult to prove, so keep an eye on what you put on your resume. Is there any information on there that gives away your age? Listing a job you started in 1972 might be a bad idea. Look to the obvious. Do not put your birthday, Social Security number or other personal information on your resume. If you live in a community that is well-known as an older community or retirement community, leave off the community name in your address. Many people leave their graduation dates out of the Education section on their resume. The Work History or Professional Experience section and listed skill sets on an executive resume may identify you as an older worker. However, most employers only expect your last 10-15 years of employment history to be listed on your resume, so this in itself may not give away your age. Affiliations and Awards resume sections can also inadvertently give away your age, especially when they are age-related such as The American Association for Retired People (AARP) or lifetime achievement awards. Keep in mind that AARP membership and lifetime achievement awards are given out well before most American people now retire. Not a good idea to list AARP, just don’t do it. The publications section on a curriculum vitae can also give resume readers a clue to your age, especially if it is extensive. This is because you would typically list publication dates for each work you have published. If you have 30 years of published works, your readers may assume that you are at least 50 years of age. 50 isn’t old, but you might want to summarize your earlier works in a paragraph format and omit the dates. Check your resume or curriculum vitae routinely for anything that can easily identify you as an older worker. Do not give an unscrupulous employer any reasons to discriminate against you based on information from your resume or curriculum vitae.
The good news is that there are jobs out there for older workers, so get your resume polished up and go after them!
Due to the job markets lately, there are a lot of older generation employees wondering how to get hired. The key is recognizing and remembering that your work experience can play a supportive role as well as a leadership role with organizations. The two need not be mutually exclusive. If you’re over 50, you’ve probably had the experience of being labeled as overqualified. And in response to this unwanted job-search slur, you’ve probably done what any intelligent, ambitious individual would do: Dumb yourself down on your resume. A good move, but what does this do to your career confidence? If today’s market is telling you repeatedly in rejection emails that they are not concerned with your achievements, it’s no wonder your self esteem is shaky. As an over 50 job candidate, you have a unique challenge to struggle with during the interview. Even though the interviewers are telling you that you are overqualified, you are suddenly feeling very inexperienced. This is because you’re overqualified because of the simple length of your resume, the style of your suit, color of your hair, and lingo in your business repertoire.
You’re under qualified because you may lack some understanding of today’s rapidly evolving technologies, flattened infrastructure, and business culture. Coming to terms with this before the interview is an essential component to building back your career confidence. Be confident that you could do many of the job duties of the interviewer just as easily in the pre-computer generation. That doesn’t make you stupid. Many people couldn’t do a lot of jobs if it weren’t for computer programs helping them along. Figure out your strengths and what you can bring to the table as far as being able take on a leadership role. It will still be a learning experience but we all have to learn something sometime. It’s important to know multiple aspects of your professional self prior to your job search, and it’s important to know how to present them to your next employer on paper and in person.