Practical steps you can take today, so you can overcome age biases during your job search

By July 13, 2017Blog

In the forward of the Australian Human Rights Commission publication Age Discrimination – exposing the hidden barrier for mature age workers, it states ‘since the introduction of the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth), experiences of age discrimination in employment among mature age workers have featured prominently in the complaints of age discrimination received by the Commission’.

A mature worker is classified as someone 45 years and above, but workers below this, have also been subject to age-based stereotypes in employment. Ageism is simply a process of stereotyping, and discriminating people simply because of their age. As a society, we tend to dwell on the negative of ageing, in spite of the wisdom skills and experience offered by older people.

“Age discrimination is entrenched through ageism, which can be found in almost every sphere of public life. It doesn’t just exist – it thrives. Disturbingly, unlike other forms of discrimination, age discrimination and ageism don’t yet seem to be at the point of being stigmatised”. – Elizabeth Broderick, Prior Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination, Australian Human Rights Commission

In this article, instead of dwelling on ageism and how it is potentially hindering your job search, I’m going to focus on some practical steps you can take today, so that you overcome some of the age biases during the initial stages of the job search process (that is getting to the interview). I’m not shifting blame and telling you it is your responsibility to fix the problem. I’m simply providing some practical solutions, so there is less focus on your age and more on your skills and capabilities, when being shortlisted for a job interview.

Sharpen up your Resume

As a Certified Master Resume Writer, these would be my top tips so that you avoid ageism in the initial stages of recruitment.

  • Use a contemporary layout and format, as the old style formats tends to give away your age. When you join as a member of My Career Groove, you do get access to contemporary resume templates.
  • Don’t treat your resume as a confessional. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to include your entire work history. If you have work history that goes back 15 years or more, and you consider the older work history still relevant, simply remove the dates and provide a summary that highlights your major achievements.  If the older work history is no longer relevant, or similar to more recent experience, remove it.
  • Work history going back to the year dot, is not the only factor that ages a person on paper. Another mistake is to brag about the depth of experience, including accomplishments that are no longer relevant to the employer, or relevant in today’s marketplace. While that technology project you worked on 15 years ago was a massive success, so much has changed in the word of technology, that this career highlight could be considered redundant.
  • If your education and qualifications are older than 15 years, consider removing the dates you completed your degree/qualification.
  • When inserting your contact details, don’t include an email address that contains your year of birth, such as Johnbrown1961@gmail.com.  
  • Remove old technology from your resume. One concern (or excuse) employers have about hiring older workers is that they haven’t kept up with technology, or the times. If you have inserted old programming languages, you have given away your age (and provided redundant skills).
  • If your major achievements were 10 years old, then one tactic is to insert these achievements on the first page under a heading career highlights. That way, you can bring employers attention to this experience, without disclosing the age of the project/achievement.

Get savvy with Social Media and Technology

The reality is that a growing numbers of recruiters and employers scope out their potential employee’s via their online profiles. This trend is so entrenched that over 50% of recruiters and employers will check out your digital footprint.  If you don’t have a digital footprint, you have potentially just aged yourself.  Keep in mind the following:

  • Increasingly employers and recruiters are head hunting online.
  • The majority of employers and recruiters Google you during the job selection process.
  • Colleagues, clients and business partners use the web as the first place to go for information about you.
  • Without an online presence you are effectively a ‘nobody’ (In the US many employers won’t hire people, who don’t have some sort of online presence. While this trend is not so prevalent in Australia, it is increasingly heading this way)
  • You can use your online presence such as LinkedIn and website as a place you can refer people, if undertaking a direct job search.

Your visibility (among your target audience) is critical to successful career management. Your Google results powerfully influence those seeking to make decisions about you’.   – Career Distinction:

Since none of this mattered, even just 10 ago, you might be forgiven for not taking much notice of this trend. However, now is the time to create an effective online presence. A good option is to join LinkedIn.

When completing your LinkedIn profile, keep in mind the same tips and strategies that I shared above in regards to your resume.  That is: avoid old experience; focus on relevant experience; avoid inserting the completion dates on your degrees and certificates (if more than 15 years old); and remove old technology.

Since you will need to insert a photograph, make sure you are not including a dated photograph, that you have an updated look and the photograph is a flattering representation of yourself. While it sounds counterintuitive, not having a picture is worse than having a picture, as a picture shows that you ‘get it’ and are comfortable with technology.

By using these strategies in your resume and LinkedIn profile, you have literally removed 5-15 or more years from your chronological age, without detracting from your experience and accomplishments. This should support you in securing more interviews during the job search process.