How To Avoid Age Discrimination: How Much Work History To Include On Your Resume

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 11, 2021
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As a job seeker, you don’t need to be told that it’s a tough job market out there. You’re experiencing it. You know you’re competing with a lot of other qualified candidates.

Those of you with more experience under your belt should be warned that ageism is a real problem and will work against you when searching for a job. It might have you wondering, how far back should a resume go?

Employers know how to do math. While it’s illegal to ask your age, if you list 20 years of job experience, they know that you are an older job candidate. When they spot that, they move your resume to the “No Thanks” pile, and you are out.

The truth is that more seniors than ever are staying in the workforce. That’s why we’re sharing things to avoid putting on your resume. Read below for tips on how to avoid discrimination on your resume.

Why Employers Don’t Hire Older Applicants

Hiring an older job applicant can be an invaluable asset to a company. So not hiring someone just because of their age could leave a company missing out on someone who could take the company to new heights.

Below are common myths about hiring older workers that some recruiters believe about 50+ workers. Knowing this will help you deal with ageism by knowing how much work experience to share on your resume.

Do This, Not That: Older Worker Resume Tips

  • Do this: Stay up to date with industry trends.

    Not that: Don’t be out of touch. Older workers are perceived to be disconnected from what is going on currently in their industry.

  • Do this: Be open to training and personal development.

    Not that: Don’t be difficult to train. Older workers are believed to be set in their ways and hard to train on new methods and techniques.

  • Do this: Make sure you know the latest software and tools in your industry. If needed, take a night class to update your skills. If you know older software such as Lotus 123, make sure to learn Excel or Google Spreadsheets.

    Not that: Don’t be tech challenged. 50+ workers have to show that they understand, embrace, and can use modern technology and software.

  • Do this: Show that you are flexible, energetic, and charismatic.

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary

    Not that: Don’t make them question if you are a culture fit in a young company. Chances are, if the company is packed with Millenials, it may be harder for a senior worker to fit in.

  • Do this: Show that you welcome change and new ideas.

    Not that: Don’t be a gray hair who doesn’t like being managed by younger management. Older workers may hold a grudge against people their children’s age telling them what to do at work.

  • Do this: Tell the employer that you love your work and certainly don’t anticipate retiring anytime soon. Show the employer your genuine interest in the job. Let them know you want to stick around and advance in your role. Once they see you don’t want a short term job until you retire, they will feel confident with you.

    Not that: Don’t let them worry if you want to retire soon. When a company is worried you will retire soon, they may not want to invest time training you.

  • Do this: Research current wages to confirm that your salary requirements are appropriate. Show the employers that you are excited and willing to tackle the position offered.

    Not that: Don’t let them worry if your higher starting salary is worth it. Typically an older worker will earn more than their younger contemporaries.

9 Resume Tips to Make Yourself Forever Young

Being an older applicant doesn’t have to crush your job search efforts. Here are some tips to give yourself a facelift on your resume:

  1. Limit your professional experience to 10-15 years of your most recent roles. That is enough to showcase your career progression. Plus, that makes it easier to keep your resume concise.

  2. If you have stayed long term at one company and climbed the ladder, it’s smart to show the progression of work experience, responsibilities, and high-level accomplishments. To progress in your career at a company is very commendable. If you have achieved this, you’ll want to show it off.

    Digital Shop Stop, New York, New York (2010-2020)

    Director of Customer Service (2015-2020)

    • Strategically lead and develop a senior operational management team to enhance performance by setting clear accountable performance measures

    • Create a culture and processes which achieve business goals and objectives for customer service

    • Empower and engage the customer service team.

    Customer Service Manager (2012-2015)

    • Supervised and managed the customer service team.

    • Trained staff members to provide the highest standards of customer service.

    • Ensured that all company policies were followed.

    Customer Service Representative (2010-2012)

    • Provided customers with quality assistance through phone calls (call center), emails, and internet chats.

    • Accurately verified information and updated information databases as necessary.

    • Offering new services based on the needs of a customer.

  3. Limit your work history if you are making a career transition. If you have twenty years of experience in the travel industry and are switching to a career in another industry, you may only need 1-2 jobs of experience listed.

    KEEP THIS EXPERIENCE: IT’S CURRENT

    CREATIVE GROUP, INC. Schaumburg, Illinois 2000-Present
    Provider of meeting and events, group incentive travel, employee engagement and recognition, sales incentives and channel loyalty programs.

    Senior Travel Consultant (2008-Present)

    • Generate travel for VIP travelers and Fortune 500 clients.

    • Serve as a role model for advisors to ensure professionalism, exhibiting good
      judgement and maintaining excellent customer service.

    • Effectively consulted with clients, devising travel plans to provide lower rates.

    • Arrange special and unique services as required by clientele.

    • Respond to requests for price quotations for domestic and international itineraries.

    • Conform to client travel standards and policies.

    • Promote acceptance of fares, rates and suppliers that match client’s travel program policies requirements; negotiated contracts. Apply discount programs appropriately.

    • Develop and manage client profiles in the SABRE system.

    • Maintain client profiles, responding to reward program information such as frequent flyer / car rental / hotel stay incentives.

    • Monitor global distribution systems (GDS) queues daily to maintain quality control.

    • Lead and develop team members to grow skillset and improve performance.

    • Consistently received positive feedback from clients on performance reviews.

    Travel Consultant (2000-2008)

    • Responsible for coordinating and booking domestic and international travel for VIP’s and groups with superior customer service.

    • Responded positively to customers by making reservations accurately and efficiently.

    • Demonstrated commitment to customers; provided unsurpassed service by understanding, anticipating and exceeding expectations.

    • Acted on special customer requests and maintained excellent client relations.

    • Developed understanding of the incentive travel industry and key drivers for customers.

    • Performed and maintained monthly quota and goals.

    CUT THIS EXPERIENCE OFF: IT’S MORE THAN 20 YEARS OLD

    AMR EAGLE, INC. 1988-2000

    Operations Planning Agent (1995-2000)

    • Prepared weight and balance sheets for each flight prior to departure.

    • Responded to inbound change-over calls.

    • Received outbound totals and gave security clearance.

    • Made calculations based on aircraft load of passengers, baggage and fuel.

    • Updated records and added corrections to scheduled departure flights.

    • Provided training and coaching support to all new staff.

    • Received above satisfactory ratings on all performance reviews. Cited for excellence in customer service, teamwork, flexibility and reliability.

    Passenger Service Trainer/Lead Agent (1992-1995)

    • Coordinated, scheduled and delivered training programs including use of SABRE.

    • Facilitated workshops, meetings, demonstrations and on-the-job training.

    • Kept up-to-date on developments in training and education in passenger service.

    • Oversaw shift schedule including work station assignments, employee training, vacations, breaks, overtime assignment, back-up for absent employees and shift rotations.

  4. Below the current professional experience, share a summary of older work experiences without listing dates. You can call it Additional Work Experience. Just include company name, location, and job title.

    Example:

    Additional Work Experience

    • Acme Company, Senior Account Manager, Dayton, Ohio

    • Erickson Gadgets, Account Supervisor, Cincinnati, Ohio

    • Smith Technologies, Account Representative, Akron, Ohio

  5. Cut down the length of your resume to 1-2 pages. One page may not be enough to highlight your accolades, but you still don’t want to go past two pages long. Read more about how long your resume should be.

    Hiring managers have short attention spans. The shorter it is, the more likely they can read your resume thoroughly. Here is more about deciding on a two-page resume.

  6. Keep your technical skills up to date and list them on your resume. When you show recruiters that you are tech-savvy, it gives them more confidence in hiring you.

    Technology Skills:

    Word, Excel, G-suite, Asana, WordPress, Hootsuite

  7. Do not include your college graduation date. You may not wish to include an anticipated graduation date. Here are more tips for what to include in the education portion of a resume.

    Western Illinois University, Bachelor of Communications, Macomb, Illinois

  8. Update any certifications. If you need additional training, sign up for that.

    PMP: Project Manager Certification

  9. Don’t use Hotmail or AOL emails. They are wildly out of date. Instead, set up a Gmail or Yahoo email address. By the way, don’t have your email be:

    Grandmaloveskiddos3@gmail.com

    Also, don’t put your birth year in the email:

    bobjones1967@gmail.com

Ways to Look Younger on Your Resume Without Hiding Your Age

The secret to staying young and vibrant on your resume is only including about 10-15 years of work experience on your resume.

You have a lot to bring to the table, and there’s no substitute for on the job experience.
You are a valuable person with many years of experience and knowledge you’ve picked up from various companies.

With a positive attitude and the right presentation of your experience, you’ll find a job opportunity you love.

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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