Executives: Downplay Your Age in Your Resume
by Kim Isaacs, Nationally Certified Resume Writer
You’re back in the job market again, but this time you find yourself competing with job seekers much younger than yourself.
Will you be turned down for jobs because of your age? Possibly. Age discrimination is illegal, but it still exists. Keep in mind that many employers prefer older workers, especially at the executive level, because of experience, maturity, leadership skills, and positive work ethic. If you are able to sell potential employers on the value that you bring to the table, your job search will be a success.
Preparing a resume that emphasizes your value and de-emphasizes your age is a good first step. Here’s how:
- Don’t provide your complete work history. This is the number one mistake executive job seekers make. Hiring managers are most interested in what you did recently, so concentrate on your recent career — the last 10-15 years or so. You can easily sum up your earlier experiences in an “Early Career” section, providing highlights of your early experience without mentioning employment dates.
- Watch your language. Avoid age-revealing statements such as “35 years of experience” or age-defining cliches such as “seasoned professional.”
- Stick to a “combination” resume style, leading with a strong “Executive Summary” section. You may have been advised to mask your years of experience with a functional resume format. But employers do not like to see functional resumes because they are often used by people who are trying to hide something. You don’t want employers reading your resume and searching for a possible problem. So unless your work history is extremely spotty or you are completely changing careers, stick to a “combination” resume format.
- Show that you’re current with technology and industry trends. Are you proficient with Wang or an expert at BASIC programming? While these programs were once cutting-edge, they have been replaced with new technology. Show that you’ve kept up with the times by removing antiquated equipment, programs, and tools, and highlight your knowledge of modern technology.
- Consider dropping dates of education. This is a tough call, because hiring managers who want to know a person’s age will go right to the “Education” section and do the math. If your education occurred in the 1970s or earlier, it might be in your best interest to eliminate graduation dates.
- Keep your school names updated. If you graduated from a school that has since changed its name, include the new name. If you are concerned about discrepancies in case an employer asks to see a transcript, write the former name of the school in parentheses.
- Show that you’ve been continually learning or taking on new roles. The key is to demonstrate that your skills are fresh and in demand. It is important that you show that you are flexible and willing to adapt to organizational changes.
- Quantify and expand on your achievements. As an executive with an established track record, this is your chance to accentuate the positive. You have what younger workers may lack — years of practical experience. Provide examples of how your performance contributed to your employers’ goals, mission, and bottom-line results.