Does Your Resume Make You Look Old?

Nancy Anderson
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In a hiring environment where unspoken age discrimination against older job applicants continues to exist, job candidates older than 50 have reason to be concerned that they may not get a fair shot at jobs for which they are qualified. If you are an older job applicant and are wondering why you are not getting contacted for interviews, take a closer look at your resume.

Cut Down Your Employment History

Ten to 15 years of employment history is sufficient for any resume. By the time you've reached 50, your entry-level jobs are no longer relevant to your career path. Wipe them off your resume.

Update Your Contact Information

In the past, job applicants sometimes listed their home address on their resumes. In the current era, however, that feels old-fashioned; no hiring manager needs to send anything to your home address. Instead, just list your email address and phone numbers. Get rid of your AOL or Hotmail email address, which pegs you as an older job applicant, and replace it with a Gmail address or an address tied to your own domain name.

Use the Correct Terminology

Using outdated terminology to discuss your qualifications or your job duties at prior positions is a guaranteed way to make yourself look old on your resume. This tip is particularly key for older job applicants who are trying to make a career change. Do some research to bring your resume up to date, and make sure you are phrasing your qualifications and accomplishments using the language of the field into which you are trying to transition.

Delete Your Education Dates

While employers are legally prohibited from asking an older job applicant's age, you make it easy for them to figure it out when you provide the dates of your college degrees. What matters is the educational qualifications you have achieved, not the years when you gained them. Cut all education-related dates off of your resume.

Add Links to Your Resume

Your online resume is much more valuable than any old-school paper resume. Modernize your resume by adding links to your LinkedIn or professional website. If you're applying for a technology job or you have a creative portfolio to show off, link to it in the cloud so your job interviewers can take a look easily.

With nearly half of older job applicants reporting that they have been overlooked for positions because of their age, keeping yourself from looking too old on your resume is vital if you are over 50. Because age discrimination is a real obstacle for older job applicants, take every step you can to remove this barrier from your resume so you can get yourself an interview that lets you prove your worth.


Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at



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  • Michael Ponzio
    Michael Ponzio

    It's bad enough being 50, but having to go to court for something makes getting a job almost impossible. My attorney tells me that I will probably just have to go to a class, but the first time I went to court for this the police woman did not show. 2 weeks later the case was brought back and I was charged again. The new court date was placed another 3 months out - it is now next week. Then I would have a better chance at getting a job - when it's over. I was tied up with this for 6 months.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Thu, the interviewer had a good idea how old you were just by seeing you in the interview - if he didn't already know based upon your resume. Most companies don't ask you to sign a background check release unless they are interested inn pursuing you for the position. So think of that in a positive light. Best of luck to you.

  • Thu H.
    Thu H.

    Some employers asked me to sign a background check release form at the interview. I had to fill out my birth date on that form. They found out my age this way.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Bonnie all you can do is include the work experience you have - even if it's 13 years old and then offer a brief explanation in your cover letter - such as raising children or caring for a loved one. If you have done any volunteer work in your community or church, make sure you include that. You can't hide the fact that you have been out of the workforce. All you can do is highlight your experience when you were in the workforce.

  • Bonni E.
    Bonni E.

    What if you've been out of the workforce for 13 years and all of your experience is beyond that?

  • Michael LeJeune
    Michael LeJeune

    Excellent tips and advice!

  • Linda M.
    Linda M.

    I'm glad I found this! I hadn't been on the job market in 15 years & things have changed.

  • ANGEL M.
    ANGEL M.

    Good things to know.

  • douglas v.
    douglas v.

    Great information! I am making the changes right now!!

  • Sanjiv Y.
    Sanjiv Y.

    I'll keep in mind

  • Abigail B.
    Abigail B.

    Very important information. Thanks.

  • Mary H.
    Mary H.

    Great information! I am making the changes right now!!

  • Eurip Farías
    Eurip Farías

    Nancy, thank you a lot. This is a very important information!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jose age discrimination certainly is a reality. But we have to do whatever it takes to get to where we are going. If it means masking our age on our resume, then we do it. Once we get in the door for an interview, that is where we can really sell ourselves. Knowing your area of expertise and being able to showcase it in front of a hiring manager - that is where we want to go with all of this. As @Sherri said - we need to get our foot in the door. Good luck all.

  • Jose B.
    Jose B.

    Age discrimination is a reality and don't try to mask it by making your resume look younger or any of the suggestion made here, because your age will come up on your interview.

  • Sherri M.
    Sherri M.

    Excellent tips here. Might very well explain why I'm not even getting a foot in the door (interviews). I'm revamping my resume right now!

  • James W.
    James W.

    This has been an informative conversation addressing issues effecting all of us over 50. Thanks so much and I will take another run through my resume now.


    If you Google yourself you will likely see that it is not too hard for someone to establish your age.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Damon it certainly is illegal for an employer to ask your age because it could be a reason for them to discriminate against you. You could have a lawsuit if they asked your age and then did not hire you. Of course it's not hard for them to get a general idea of your age based upon your resume. But if they verbally ask for your age, then you might have a good case.

  • Damon Gitelman
    Damon Gitelman

    It is not illegal for employers to ask your age. It is illegal for them to discriminate against you on that basis -- but you need a witness or something in writing.

  • Amada F.
    Amada F.

    Thank you very much. Very useful tips. Amada F Feb. 16, 2015

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Karen, the answer to your question is - it depends. You can include your degree but just do not put the year on your resume. If you are talking about a bachelor or master's degree, you should probably include it. The rule of thumb is to only include the last ten years of work history, also but that doesn't always hold true. If you are going for an attorney position, for example, you would definitely want to include any work history, even if it was more than 10 years ago and you would want to include your educational accomplishments. But if you are going for a technical position that has nothing to do with your degree, then I probably wouldn't include the history. Things change so rapidly in the job seeking world. Many companies are changing over to "story board" type resumes while others are still staunch believers in the chronological resume. Remember, you can always include some information on the cover letter that you don't include on your resume. You can explain in the cover letter that you got your law degree and still not include the year if you don't want to. Hope this helps.

  • Karen Kennedy
    Karen Kennedy

    What do you do if you have a professional degree such as my case where I graduated from law school in 1979. Should I delete that date from my resume?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    It is frustrating @Nita. Unfortunately there's not much you can do other than to put the year in. As I wrote just a few days ago, if I encounter a job that asks for my age, I don't even bother to apply. I know I will be taken out of the running. All you can do is just keep on looking. Asking around - networking. The job will come along - just don't give up.

  • NITA H.
    NITA H.

    When asked what year you graduated, if it's on line you have to respond or the application can't be completed. What's a good answer if in an interview. So frustrating!X

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