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Does Your Resume Give Away Your Age? Avoid These Ten Mistakes

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The Great Recession that plunged the nation into economic uncertainty in 2008 supposedly ended several years ago, yet many older workers have never recovered the employment status they once enjoyed. It’s no secret that older workers find it tougher to land well-paying jobs these days. In fact, in a recent study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, staff members sent out fictitious resumes in response to actual job postings, and repeatedly found that the older the imaginary applicant, the fewer the number of call-backs. Age discrimination, conscious or unconscious, is very real.

That won’t surprise you if you’re an older worker who is unemployed or under-employed. If this describes you or someone you care about, we call your attention to this extremely perceptive article we discovered on the website of US News. It points out ten surprising ways in which your number one job-seeking tool – your resume – may be undermining your chances by giving away your age. Worse, it may be making you look and sound old. Some of these are obvious but some are more subtle. We’ll cover this list in brief, but we definitely encourage you to read the article, evaluate your current resume, and see if some changes are in order.

Here are the ten mistakes – or as we prefer, ten questions you should ask yourself as you review your resume:

1. Does your resume show the years you graduated from high school or college? This is the most obvious way for a prospective employer to guess your age within a year or two. You might want to delete these date references, just to be safe.

2. Does your resume emphasize your long work history? The US News article suggests that it’s really the last decade or so of experience that is the most relevant. Unless you had some really high-level position or won some prestigious award back in the 1980’s, you might want to condense all that earlier work history into an undated narrative paragraph or bulleted section, and avoid the temptation to list every job you ever held.

3. Does your resume under-emphasize your computer skills? If so, you may be reinforcing the stereotype that older workers aren’t very tech-savvy. Find ways to stress that you’re comfortable with technology, including social media usage, since employers will almost certainly expect it.

4. Does your resume omit any social media presence? Like it or not, employers will look for your profile on social media, and you need to have a presence that’s up to date. “Build out a solid LinkedIn profile,” says one employment expert. “Having a polished digital presence really complements the resume and shows that you put serious thought into your personal brand.”

5. Does your resume list two phone numbers? Believe it or not, it shouldn’t – these days only older applicants have land lines. Just list your cell.

6. Does your resume include an old-fashioned e-mail address? We know, this may sound silly, but keeping that AOL address from two-plus decades ago marks you as an oldster. Experts say you should switch to gmail or some newer service.

7. Is your resume format outdated? Formats come and go, and some things that used to be common are no longer expected. For example, says one career adviser quoted in US News, “Having an objective statement and ‘references upon request’ were common resume features in the past, but both should no longer be included. Your objective is to get the job you’re applying for, and any verbiage about the types of job you want should be saved for the cover letter.”

8. Is your resume designed to be read on paper or on a screen? Employers don’t want or expect you to mail them a paper copy of your resume. Chances are good it will only be read on a computer screen, so you had better get some good professional advice on how to make your resume look up to date in an electronic format, not in print.

9. Does your resume include personal interests outside of work? It should, say employment experts, and those interests should make you sound as young and vital as possible. Hiking, skiing and personal fitness sound far more youthful and dynamic than reading, knitting or gardening. Employers today are interested in who you are away from the workplace.

10. Do you use the same resume for every application? This is a bad idea, say the experts. If you’re trying to play it safe with a one-size-fits-all resume – the kind that might have worked 30 years ago – you’re probably going to find your resume going nowhere, because it won’t contain the kind of phrases and skill-words that screeners (both computer and human) look for. Make certain you tailor your resume to the specific job you’re applying for.

The longer you stay on the job, most aging experts agree, the healthier and happier you’ll be. But in a job market that’s not especially kind to older workers, you need all the help you can get, and we hope this article from US News provides some important take-aways that will help you land the job that’s just right for you. When it comes to planning for your eventual retirement, whether it’s just around the corner or several years away, you need a professional guide and a comprehensive retirement strategy, and that’s exactly what we provide with an AgingOptions LifePlan. Your LifePlan will be your blueprint allowing you to build the retirement of your dreams, knowing that all the critical aspects of aging – finances, legal concerns, housing choices, medical protection and family communication – are all working together.

If you’re ready to take charge of your future, we’re ready to assist you. The first step is simple: invest just a few hours and attend a free LifePlanning Seminar. We hold these popular events at locations throughout the area, and they do fill up rapidly, so we encourage you to pre-register and plan now to attend the seminar that’s convenient for you. Click here for details and online registration, or call us during the week. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon.

(originally reported at

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