Resumes and Age Bias: To Date or Not to Date?

resume-how-to-age-concernEvery day I talk to people who are concerned about putting their full employment or graduation dates on their resume. The concern is that by showing a full chronology or revealing a graduation date, hiring managers will "do the math" and figure out how old you are. Once they have this information, they may decide you are "too old" for their open position.

Does age bias exist? Absolutely. Does that mean you should omit information that would help them decipher the length of your career history? Not really. Here's why.

-- See the average salaries of workers age 44 - 65.

  • Omitting dates forces the reader to come to their own conclusion. Let's say you are a job seeker in your late 40s and you decide to only report your career chronology back to 1998, when the reality is you've been in the workforce since the mid '80s. In addition you don't include your graduation date. The person reading your resume will come to one of two conclusions: a) you are in your 30s and just didn't include your graduation date (unlikely) or b) you are significantly older than your resume suggests and you have omitted the graduation date or early career experiences to mask this fact (likely). So now you have called more attention to the very thing you are trying to hide and potentially given the hiring manager the impression that you are much older than you actually are.

  • Chopping off a section of your chronology is misleading and potentially damaging to your candidacy. Let's assume that you leave off certain telling dates and you are granted an interview. You show up for the interview and it is obvious to the hiring manager that you have been working well before 1998. What do you think is going on in that hiring manager's head? Probably the fact that you have been less than up-front about your career history and you were trying to "put one over on them." Not a great way to start out a relationship. And what if you have worked for the same company for 25 years? Are you going to chop off 10 or more of those years because you are afraid your experience dates you? If you end up being selected for the position and the hiring manager does a reference check to confirm previous employers and dates of employment, the facts won't match up and you could end up with a rescinded offer.

-- Applying for a new job? Find out what it pays.

Strategies to use

So how do you work around the age factor?

  • Be transparent but be strategic. Create a very brief section on the resume that says Early Experience or Additional Experience. Include one or two sentences that explains your early chronology. For example, you might write something like "held a series of customer service positions for companies X, Y, and Z between these dates." Or you might write "10 years experience in retail sales." With this strategy you are being transparent, but you aren't calling a great deal of attention to your earlier history or dedicating too much space on the resume to these experiences.

  • Include information on the resume that proves that you are current in your approach to job search. An easy way to show that you are keeping up with best practices in your job search strategy is to include your LinkedIn URL in the contact section of your resume. This shows your reader that you are familiar with the importance of online technology in a job search.

Gaining job interviews is really about gaining trust. The resume is frequently the tool that is used to gain that trust. By showing the reader that you have the competencies and past successes that make you a strong fit for their open position, you increase the trust and "likability" factor and improve the chances of getting called in for an interview. If you omit key information about your background, it is unlikely that you will make it to the second round of interviews.

If the hiring authority truly has an age bias, there may be little you can do to change their way of thinking. Perhaps that's unfortunate, but it is also the reality. If you are concerned that age bias may be a factor in your search, consider targeting companies that tout themselves as best places to work for older workers. Check out AARP's annual surveys on these companies and start building relationships with companies who brand themselves as great places to work for people over 50 rather than chasing after companies that don't embrace this demographic.

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So what your saying is these companies are breaking the law. Age discrimination is as illegal as race, religious or sex discrimination. Maybe we should just start suing these companies for discrimination instead of offering them the benefits of our experience for a meager salary. If these companies would only use their heads they would realize just what a bargain they are getting by hiring older workers. They bring with them very good work ethics, many don't need the high salaries because they have already sent their families through school, bought the houses and fancy cars. They are just looking to stay busy and actually look forward to going to work and helping to build a companies reputation. With the scandals and greedy CEO's coming out everyday against these companies, you'd think they would look for someone with an ethical background that could restore the public's trust in them.

August 08 2010 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don it is also my opinion that there is age discrimination. Another way businesses are being "real choosy" (discriminatory) is by doing credit checks. If you have bad credit you will not be considered for the position. I have been unemployed since Feb. '09 and since have lost a house and a couple of cars. My credit score is pathetic. It only took 5 months for my wife and I to go through what little savings we had. Up until May of last year we were still able to pay our bills on time. That's when our funds ran out.
The reasons I have been given for credit checks is that it supposedly reveals the character of the prospect and will cut down on theft. Employers think that people with bad credit will steal to pay bills. In my humble opinion I think this practice is wrong. I understand that some states have even passed laws banning credit checks on prospective employees. but everyone should keep in mind that jobs have to be more plentiful than what they are currently in order to get even an application in, let alone hired.

August 08 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have just retired from teaching after 35 years. I am interested in continuing my career with another institution, and hopefully the interviewers will see that I have acquired a level of wisdom that newer teachers have yet to attain. At my last job interview six years ago I was asked if I had any questions. I responded by asking, "Why would the school system be interested in hiring a career teacher at the top of the salary scale instead of two recent college graduates. The interviewer was pleased, and responded, the superintendent appreciates wisdom, and believes the cost outweighs the results!

August 08 2010 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm 58 years old and out of a job for the first time in my life. I realize times are tough for all but you cannot convince me that employers are NOT discriminating against older workers.

August 08 2010 at 6:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Don's comment

You need to remember age is a tag society puts on people. Because of that, young people are ignorant. Literally. Keep looking, there's something out there for you. You are NOT old by any means.

August 08 2010 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Couldn't agree with you more...there is a great deal of bias against hiring 'older' applicants. I don't agree with the article about NOT putting your age down. It may raise some red flags....'may', but they go right to your birthdate you're done, period.
AARP help you find jobs? Yes, if you enjoy being a greeter at Walmart.
Just don't put a fake birthdate that makes you 28 years old, then start talking about the baseball game you went to in 1967 : )

August 08 2010 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The law on age discrimination means nothing. In most cases you must fill out an application in addition to submitting your resume. Most of these applications require the date you graduated high school. Now they have your age within a year. In addition, most also require a release form filled out for a background check. This release form requires that you give your date of birth.If you fail to give this information your application will not be accepted when you attempt to submit it. So the law is just a joke. I wrote the EEOC about these issues and did not even receive a reply.

August 08 2010 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a retired personnel recruiter I must tell you that this article is just so much bull%@#&. I worked in "Silicon Valley" and I'm here to tell you age bias is rampant. You won't even get an interview if you are over 50. I ALWAYS told my clients that they should never give over 10 years work experience. 1) Anything over 7 years is usually unverifiable. HR depts don't keep personnel records more than 7 years. What you did 15 years ago was, probably, either manual or on a, now antiquated, computer system. It's not relevent anymore.
The object is to get your foot in the door and get that 1st all important interview so you can wow them with your knowledge. And don't poopoo the idea of working for a temporary agency that handles your job title. Many become "permanant" placements if they appreciate your work and experience. The likelyhood of them canning you for a younger, less experienced candidate goes way down. Make sense?

August 08 2010 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have talked with several people over the last 18 months I have been unemployed. Alot of the people I have spoken with seem to think the reason for age discrimination, (people over 50) is because they can pay younger workers less than what someone, lets say, with more experience and a family
would require. Age discrimination as everyone knows is illegal. It's also very hard to prove.

August 08 2010 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you lied about your age at my company I would fire you as soon as I found out 1 year 2 years later wouldnt matter how good a employee you are I wouldnt stand for a lier working for me.

August 08 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to jim's comment

Why worry about it. Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. If a company doesn't want you for who you are, than why should you want them? Next!

August 08 2010 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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