Your resume is your first line of defense to avoid ageism during your job search, as ageism is a real, if difficult to prove obstacle to your job search if you are over 50. By eliminating details that point to your age, you greatly improve the odds that your resume will land you interviews. So here are 3 things to eliminate that will help you avoid ageism during your job search.
Graduation dates – just leave them off. I tell this to millennial and Gen-Z clients as well. The dates add nothing to your candidacy, and in any case, once an employer gets serious about your candidacy, you will be asked to complete a job application, which is, unlike a resume, a legal document used for background checks. Once you submit the job application, the cat is out of the bag, but by then you’ve been interviewed, and that’s where you can make the case that age is not a negative.
Job you held over 15 years ago – again, just leave them off. You’re not misrepresenting anything; you’re simply focusing on your most relevant experience. And trust me, nothing you did at any job is currently done the same way it was 15-25 years ago. A few clients held prestigious jobs in their youth – one was an aide to President Clinton – while others worked for companies with brands that still carry considerable weight. The trick is to weave in mention of them in the summary section of the resume, which eliminates the need to mention the years you worked in that role.
Outdated skills – I’m talking about software that no one uses anymore, equipment (like faxes, PDAs, Blackberries, etc), as well as WPM (that’s words per minute, youngsters). One resume I saw listed “Internet,” as a skill. Yeah. And while I’m on the subject, if you want to avoid ageism during your job search, get rid of your AOL email address, if you’re still using one. It just screams “out of touch.”
Of course, eliminating signifiers of your age from your resume is only a first step; the most challenging part of a job search is getting an offer. Some clients argue that ageism-proofing your resume doesn’t matter because once you show up for an interview, your approximate age is evident. That’s true, but by getting past the gatekeepers and being interviewed, the company is already somewhat pre-disposed in your favor. The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate that your skills are contemporary, your attitude gung-ho, and your value proposition is relevant. I’m not going to give you tips regarding your appearance because while it shouldn’t matter, it does, but you can read about it from someone more qualified to talk about that stuff than me. Just remember that authenticity is a better strategy than trying to look or act young. You may want to check this article in Forbes. I’m just not so sure about wearing a suit. Who wears a suit to work anymore? There are plenty of other ways to dress professionally.
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