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12 Ways to Avoid Ageism on Your Résumé

Many of our most experienced clients ask us about ageism in the workplace and the answer is “Ageism is alive and well” even though it is illegal in the US and its territories. Unknowingly, many candidates introduce information on their résumés that opens the door for those biases during the hiring process.

In this blog, we will walk you through what you can do to avoid the 12 most common missteps we have found so that you position yourself as a valuable asset with extensive experience and spark interest in interviewing you while also competing against any other candidate in a rapidly changing job market.

1. Years of Experience in the Workforce

As a job search tool, the résumé has to be targeted to the role that you want to obtain. Keep your experience to the most recent 10 to 15 years unless you are applying for a position on a board of directors (which we will discuss in another blog post). Very likely, what you did earlier in your career built into your most recent achievements and is only tangentially relevant to where you want to go.

Remove earlier roles to keep your résumé brief, easy to read, and focused on your most impactful work. Only include high-profile early career job titles, well-known companies, and significant achievements if they will add value to your candidacy. You may add a section with a headline such as “Early career experience” or “Early career successes” with maybe a bullet or two about what you did and without dates even if they were at your current company. Similarly, reconsider mentioning those high-profile early career job titles if they did not lead to more recent similar roles for whatever reason.

2. Objective

Including an objective on a résumé is a dated practice because it is usually focused on what YOU want. Since your goal is to convince the reader that you have what THEY want, substitute it with information showing you are qualified for the role.

3. Summary of Qualifications Statement

Instead of the statement, include your target job title and any required certifications. Highlight

qualifications and experience relevant to your targeted position in 60 words or less right under the job title, using bullets if possible.

4. Technology Skills

Present only your proficiency in technological tools that are currently in use and only because an applicant tracking system (ATS) may be looking for them. Mentioning WordPerfect, WordStar, or Windows XP will date you.

5. Other Skills and Qualifications

Your skills should be self-evident from your achievements. However, since an ATS may look for skills as part of the screening process, make sure that you match yours to the job requirements and list ONLY your top skills and qualifications.

6. Dates of Your Education

You will be hired based on your experience and what you have accomplished, not on the number of years that have passed since you graduated or attended a program. Everyone will assume that you graduated from high school if you were admitted to college.

If you did not graduate from college or did not finish a particular degree, you can use the phrase “coursework towards x degree” and then indicate the field and institution you attended to demonstrate that you have some knowledge in an area. If you can calculate the percentage of credits towards the degree that you earned, and it is favorable to you, you may say something like “completed 65% of credits towards x degree” because higher education institutions are notably inconsistent on what they mean by a credit. Don’t leave anything up to interpretation!

7. Professional Development and Certifications

Only include professional development and certifications from the last 5 years. Position those required or highly desirable certifications on a tagline under your name to differentiate yourself. Select the professional development you introduce based on the requirements of the new role and show your commitment to continuous learning in your field.

8. Professional Organizations and Memberships

Highlight only the memberships and leadership roles in organizations that are important for your job target. Exclude those that are not, even if you are still involved in those organizations.

9. Your Street Address

In these days of remote work and constant mobility, listing your street address may limit your options. Just include your city and state if you have decided to stay in a particular area. Otherwise, omit.

10. Email Address

Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL email addresses suggest that you started using electronic communications at the beginning of the internet era when these companies were the main carriers, therefore, they can make you look dated when it comes to technology.

Unless your email address from one of those carriers can differentiate you, sign up for a free Gmail address and check it regularly from your phone. It’s even better to have a dedicated email account for job search purposes to avoid an email from a recruiter getting lost among the latest promotions from your favorite stores.

11. Telephone numbers

Your PERSONAL cell phone is the easiest way for recruiters and hiring managers to reach you so omit any other phone numbers. Make sure that you return your calls within 24 hours or less and that you have a friendly yet professional introduction to your voicemail inbox. If you prefer to be reached by text message, say so clearly.

12. “References Available Upon Request"

Everyone assumes that you will provide references if they are requested. Since this phrase takes up valuable space that you could put to better use, omit it and find ways to make the document easier to read. White space works wonders!

If you want the latest information on resume and job search best practices, reach out to us at D&S Executive Career Management. We are committed to staying on top of the rapidly changing job market and can help you compete for top jobs in your field.

Schedule a call today to learn more and take the first step toward achieving your professional goals.


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