Keeping Your Age from Being an Issue

Keeping Your Age from Being an Issue

Age discrimination is illegal so your age should not be an issue in your job search. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be. In reality, some feel their age might be a liability in their job search. A strategy to avoid the issue is to keep your age out of it until you’ve had the chance to sell yourself as a great match for a position.

First, strip your materials of any dates or numbers that imply age. Your email address should be completely professional with no numbers such as year of birth or graduation. On your resume, leave out dates you received degrees. Simply list the degree and the institution. Jobs held beyond the last ten years can be combined or at least not dated on your resume. Check all your materials for clues that give away your age.

Second, always seek a warm introduction to a person, company or position. By developing a robust network, you increase the chances that someone in your network knows the hiring manager or has a connection at the company. Being introduced by a connection greatly improves your chances of being interviewed for a position. Your connection can sell you, your abilities and your match for the job to the point where your age wouldn’t occupy the hiring manager’s mind.

Third, avoid dating yourself by including vast and varied experience that is irrelevant to the job. By customizing your resume to each opportunity, you will naturally hone down experience that may date you. For example, if you worked on mainframe computers, but it’s not relevant to the job, leave it off. If it is relevant to the job, you could leave it on without the date. Be sure to directly connect the experience and your proven success to the current opportunity. Handle your deep experience the same way you would deal with potentially being overqualified for a job. Customize then sell the advantages of your qualifications.

Finally, in all your materials including phone interviews, convey a sense of energy and enthusiasm, indicative of the young and young at heart. Overcome any preconceived notions about the 40 plus worker with your clear, contemporary communication, ability to think quickly, well thought out solutions to problems and knowledge of the latest developments in your field. And don’t assume there are preconceived notions at work. For all you know, the person interviewing you may be 40 plus as well, or younger but smart enough to judge people by ability not age.

With these steps, you’ve paved the way for a favorable reception at your face to face meeting. The warm introduction, your relevant skills and your strong communication have set you up well and your age is not an issue. Perhaps your age will be obvious when you interview. Don’t feel self conscious or defensive about it. Remember that confidence and experience are the top reasons why people get hired.

Spread the love

6 thoughts on “Keeping Your Age from Being an Issue

  1. Sorry, Ms. Kreuger, but no sale. I used to work in an HR office, although I was not involved in hiring. Whenever one of our “gatekeepers” encountered a resume devoid of dates, she recognized that as a red flag that proclaimed, “This candidate is OLD.” That resume wound up in the waste basket. Age discrimination is perfectly legal, because it is impossible to prove in a court of law.

    I tried the tactic of stripping my resume of all dates and eliminating all jobs beyond ten years back. I landed one interview, but the minute the interviewer saw that I was not in my 20’s, she immediately went “cold”.

    Purposely omitting information on your resume is just as bad as including false information. No matter how you try to rationalize or “spin it”, it’s still LYING, and it makes a hiring manager wonder, “If he tried to hide his age, what else is he hiding?” It destroys your credibility as a candidate.

    I am what I am–a man in his 50’s. I am proud of my education, my work history, my experience, my adaptability, and my wisdom. I will NOT try to hide my age. If an employer sees my age as a liability, no amount of energetic tap-dancing at the interview is going to change that prejudice. Why would I want to work for someone who is prejudiced against people over 50?

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree we shouldn’t have to “hide” our age, nor would we want to work for people for whom it’s an issue. Whatever your age, it will become fairly apparent at some point in the interview process. However, it doesn’t have to be front and center on a resume. Let qualifications, experience and successes be the first things hiring managers notice, rather than age.

    Your resume should only include information that is relevant to the current opportunity. Omitting irrelevant information from a resume is not lying. For example, my resume does not include the fast food job I held in the summer of 1975. I’m not ashamed of it. It is just not relevant to most jobs I would be pursuing. If I were to apply to a position in the fast food industry, I would include this job and proudly share my accomplishments. Resumes can’t and shouldn’t include everything about us. What we chose to share and how we share it can shape our reader’s early opinion so I suggest focusing on relevant accomplishments, not dates.

    Many young people are leaving off dates of degrees on their resume because they don’t want to be classified as “too young”. Leaving off dates is becoming more common. Some hiring managers consider the lack of degree dates a favor because it decreases the chance of unconscious age bias against either the young or the mature worker. It’s not “hiding” so much as it is leaving off irrelevant information.

    I think it’s a great discussion and I hope we can continue to hash out the issues around age and the workplace.


  3. Two years ago, I was hounded by a head hunter to apply for a position. (I was employed at the time, ad so far am still employed by the same company.) I finally agreed to send a resume and be interviewed. I turned in an age-neutral cover and resume. The interview was live video, long distance, at a neutral office service location. I was 55 years old, generally taken for mid-40s….but still too old. As soon as the screen came up, she made a sour face and said, How old are you (no small talk first.) When I told her, she chided me for being “misleading” and asked why I didn’t just put my age in the cover letter. She said it was unprofessional not to. I have hired hundreds of people at all levels. I know this was illegal and ridiculous and it took me a while not to be pretty angry. Like the baby boomer I am, I spoke to an attorney I know just because I would like to see this issue get the attention it deserves. He said search firms can get away with it and know it. I find it detestable.

    1. Thanks for sharing that story. It’s truly unfortunate that something like that would happen in this day and age! There is no reason why anyone, young or not-so-young, should put their age on a cover letter or resume. It’s irrelevant! Sad story.

Leave a Reply