Many older Americans are finding themselves entering the workplace once again or searching for a new career. Applying for jobs can already be stressful enough without the added worry of being discriminated against based on your age. Although it’s illegal to discriminate based on age, according to the American Psychological Association, 80% of Americans age 60 and older said they have experienced ageism firsthand. Worse yet, the problem only appears to be worsening rather than getting better. From 1990 to 2017, the number of age-discrimination-related charges filed by those 65+ doubled.
While these figures may feel daunting, you should never let the possibility of ageism deter you from going after a job you want. After all, if you don’t try, you’re guaranteed not to get the position. There are several steps you can take to help your resume shine against competitors and look promising when put in front of any hiring manager. It just takes a little practice, a willingness to learn, and altering your way of thinking.
Keep It Relevant
Many people fill their resumes with every position, experience, or job they’ve ever had, but doing so can easily give away your age. You should delete anything that has nothing to do with the specific opportunity you’re applying for. After all, employers want to see that your skills are a good match for the job. To make this step easier, look up and make a list of the responsibilities of the position, then compare them to your current resume. If there’s a mismatch, go ahead and take it out. Quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to resumes. If you have a college degree, it’s also helpful to delete anything about what high school you attended as the college degree takes precedence.
Highlight What You Can Offer
This goes hand in hand with keeping your resume relevant. You want to keep the focus on the goals you met, the impacts you made, and all of the skills you’ve picked up over the years. Think of your resume as an attempt to sell yourself. What are the most important things the hiring manager should know about you? Look over the job description and try to pick out keywords from it, then include those in your resume. If you know the company is seeking out a technologically savvy worker, include any relevant experiences you’ve had with technology. If they’re looking for someone who can work independently with little oversight, make sure to detail solo projects you’ve worked on or opportunities you’ve had in the past that required a lot of self-reliance.
Don’t Hide The Obvious
According to a 2019 study by Hiscox, 51 is the age at which people begin to believe their age will cause them to be discriminated against in the workplace. When you operate from a place of fear, it can cause you to construct a resume that reflects that fear. For example, you may completely remove the years you were in various positions or follow suit with other activities, but this will actually only make the hiring manager more suspicious. He or she may have paid little attention to the years before, but now that a timeline is nonexistent, it makes it look like you have something to hide. This doesn’t mean you can’t leave out a date or year here and there, just be selective and strategic about it. If you do choose to leave in graduation dates, you may even consider moving them around so they’re not the first and most prominent detail of your resume. Those details you choose to hide will ultimately stand out more. You want to stand out of course, but in a positive way.
Use Stereotypes To Your Advantage
In the workforce, endless myths and stereotypes tend to follow the older population. Among workers over the age of 40, 54% of them believe they’ve been discriminated against by younger coworkers because those coworkers assume they don’t like or understand technology. Furthermore, 66% say their younger counterparts believe they’re resistant to change or are uninterested in learning new skills. It’s wise to be aware of the myths and stereotypes that exist so you can present yourself as separate from that group. Your resume should illustrate a willingness to learn, to take on new skills, and to work to understand technology to the best of your ability. Use these myths to your advantage by not fitting them, but rather being opposite of the type of person they describe.
Make It To The Interview
The interview is where you have the best chance to prove yourself to the hiring manager. Candidates can be extremely hard to choose from when they’re all represented by a single sheet of paper. If you can make it to the interview, you’ll be able to show off what makes you unique and the best fit for the job. While you shouldn’t be self-conscious about every little decision you make, small considerations like your clothing choices can go a long way in impressing the interviewer. Essentially, you want to make your resume stand out just enough to get you to that first interview.
Find Fresh Eyes
Still unsure if your resume makes you sound old? Find a younger friend or hire a younger person to look it over. They’ll be able to pick out the outdated phrases and unnecessary words you aren’t able to see. Be willing to take advice from those who are younger than you, and you may just learn something new and land yourself that dream job.
Creating the perfect resume is possible no matter your age. Don’t forget that you bring just as much to the table as a younger applicant. While the younger generations can probably teach you a lot about the latest technology, diversity, and taking risks, you bring years of experience in the workforce that anyone can learn from. Things like loyalty to a company, interpersonal relationship building, and staying positive during difficult times are all important too, so make sure to share these things with your coworkers as you learn from them.
All in All
You should emphasize what you can offer in your resume and focus less on the areas you may be lacking in. Many times, the weaker areas are made up for by strength in others. At the end of the day, most hiring managers are looking for someone who is trainable, a team player, eager to learn, excited about the role, and can improve the business in some way. Craft your resume to fit these qualities and you’ll be more likely to be successful in landing that dream position.
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