If you are over the age of 40 and have been searching for a job, there is a strong chance that you have experienced age discrimination in the hiring process. As you age and continue to apply for jobs, you may notice that call-backs and interview requests are becoming increasingly rare for you. While hiring managers may not realize that they are discriminating against applicants based on their age, there are several age-related factors that could negatively affect how your resume is viewed, and those factors subsequently affect whether or not you are invited for an interview.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 states that employers shall not discriminate against job applicants or workers who are over the age of 40 throughout the hiring process or in the workplace. Employers declare themselves Equal Opportunity Employers, though treating each applicant equally is much more challenging in practice than in theory. Hiring managers may have the impulse to gravitate, subconsciously even, toward applicants who give the impression of being young. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this practice is illegal. Yet it persists in the modern workforce because of the subtle behaviors we adopt from societal attitudes and stigmas, as well as the difficulty in enforcing equal employment opportunity laws.

Your resume projects who you are to hiring managers. As their first impression of you, your resume has the power to be the one thing that compels them to elevate you to the next step in the hiring process. There are several ways in which you can optimize your resume to ensure that you are not discriminated against based on your age. Below are Resume Yeti’s Pro Tips on how to optimize your resume for the modern job hunt.

Pro Tip: Focus on your most recent positions

In the “Professional Experience” section on your resume, you should emphasize only the most recent positions you have held. While it is crucial to include professional experience that is relevant to the positions you are applying for, any jobs outside of the past 10-15 years should not appear in the main “Professional Experience” section of your resume. Instead, you can simply list these positions in an “Additional Experience” section below your “Professional Experience” Section. The positions you list under additional experience do not need to include dates, though you may be asked about dates during an interview.

Pro Tip: Keep your resume short

No matter how many unique work experiences you have had, or how many years you’ve been working, your resume should ideally be two pages or less (three at the absolute maximum). Having an overly lengthy resume can indicate your age to hiring managers. Long resumes can also be overwhelming to read and process, and they can actually work against you in the hiring process. Keep your Professional Experience descriptions concise and direct, with three short bullet points per position.

Pro Tip: Eliminate your graduation dates

By dating your education, you date yourself. If you alert hiring managers to the year you graduated from college, they can estimate your age within a few years. Your age is supposed to be irrelevant to hiring managers, but if they calculate your age based on your education dates, it opens up the chance that they could discriminate against you, however unknowingly.

Watch out for this question in interviews, too. Even if you remove your graduation dates from your resume, hiring managers could attempt to gauge your age by casually asking what year you graduated from college or high school in an interview. If this question should surface in the hiring process, you may be able to deflect it by responding, “May I ask the reason why you need this information?” or “I could order you a copy of my transcript if necessary.”

Pro Tip: Modernize your resume’s appearance

Again, your resume is hiring managers’ first impression of you. This part of your application is a way of projecting who you are without ever meeting someone from the office in person. Older job applicants have a tendency to use outdated visual techniques and formats in their resumes. In today’s job market, many applicants are utilizing graphic design and self-branding in order to attract the attention of hiring managers. If you can modernize your resume’s appearance, then you will not stick out as an older applicant when hiring managers first screen resumes for the position. If you are worried that you don’t have the graphic design skills to modernize your resume, don’t worry! Resume Yeti uses an online system in which you type in your information, and the program rearranges it into your choice of a beautiful modern template.

It may not be possible to eliminate age discrimination in the workplace and hiring process, but it is possible to prevent it from happening to you. Test our Pro Tips, and get ready to receive more call-backs and interview requests than before!

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