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Writing Your Resume: How to Avoid Age Discrimination If You’re Over 45

Getting a job at any age is difficult. But, if you’re forty-five or more, it becomes ten times harder because many young recruiters automatically dismiss older applicants as being ‘over the hill’.

There are some simple ways you can avoid age discrimination and sneak under the radar of young recruiters. When writing your resume, be very aware of anything that might show your age. Following are eight tips to help you get to the interview:

  1. Never write your age or date of birth in your résumé. Many people mistakenly believe a résumé is a legal document – it’s not. It’s a ‘sales document’ that ‘sells’ your skills and experience to a prospective employer.
  2. Use the name by which you are known on your résumé. For example, if you are known as “Kate Green’, write ‘Kate Green’, not ‘Katherine Mary Green’ or ‘Katherine M. Green’ on your résumé . Once again, this is not a formal document like a Birth Certificate where you need to write your full name.
  3. Only list jobs and training you’ve had over the last ten years. Don’t fall for the trap of bragging about your ‘twenty-five years’ experience in sales’. It makes you seem ‘old’ to a young recruiter and may affect your chances of being interviewed.
  4. Keep your résumé succinct and punchy by using short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Don’t tell the story of your life – no one wants to hear about it. Older people are known to ‘waffle’, so make sure you stick to the point and write concisely.
  5. Include an employment summary of the last ten years, so that the reader can see your history at a glance. Start at your most recent position and work backwards. This helps the reader get to know you quickly.
  6. Use a simple layout in 11 point Arial font (for digital applications) and use bullet points to make it easy for the employer to get information quickly and easily. Avoid using a mixture of fonts and never, never use all caps. It looks as if you are shouting.
  7. ‘Sell’ yourself by stating what you’ve achieved in former positions. This includes: increases in sales, market-share or company profits, cost savings, increases in efficiency, developing new systems and processes, etc. The employer uses your past performance as an indication of your future performance.
  8. Choose professional referees (managers, colleagues, suppliers, customers, etc.) who can personally vouch for your work performance and include their mobile numbers and email addresses. Ask their permission to be listed as a referee and keep them in the loop about your application.

Take heart! There are many enlightened organisations that prefer to hire mature aged workers because of their strong work ethic and experience. Remember, you have a great deal to offer the organisation.

Make yourself competitive with younger job applicants by having a positive attitude, keeping your computer skills up-to-date and paying attention to your personal grooming. Good luck!


4 thoughts on “Writing Your Resume: How to Avoid Age Discrimination If You’re Over 45

  1. What should I do if they’re asking for a degree qualification – which I have, but earned in the 90s? Do I just leave out the date? That feels as if I’m hiding something. But if I do put the date, it’s not too hard to work out my age (or how old I must “at least” be!)

    1. Hi Kylie
      If you use a reverse chronological format as I suggest, you do need to state the timelines of when you acquired your qualifications. But, you can add the experience you’ve had since then, stressing your achievements, which are much more relevant than your actual qualifications. ‘Sell’ yourself through what you have achieved in key roles. All the very best with your career change.

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