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Job-searching at any age is challenging. But searching for a job after the age of 40, when anti-discrimination protections kick-in, is especially challenging. Learn strategies to age-proof your resume to keep you in the applicant pool longer!

10 Ways to Age-Proof Your Resume

In the past, I have written about job-searching and its challenges. But I have avoided talking about one area within the topic that I have felt little control over: ageism. When I started my job search a couple of years ago, I was well into the protected age for people who experience ageism in job-searching and in employment. Sometimes the questions I was asked would sound coded as being over-qualified or that I wouldn’t fit in with younger co-workers.

Until now, I felt as though I had few ways to combat the experiences I had. But going into 2021, I feel energized and plan to incorporate these tips into my own job search strategies. I believe they will help anyone who is 40 (or fast approaching 40) or is looking to hire new staff. The tips can also help you become ageism-aware in your hiring approach.

I have listed the top ten strategies, from a variety of sources. At your leisure, you can refer to the full list and other tips the authors suggest.


10 ways to age-proof your resume

In Jobscan’s recent Hiring Professionals Survey, recruiters and hiring managers cited salary expectations as a reason they may not hire older workers, in addition to other reasons such as outdated skillsets, inflexibility, and lack of drive. You can address these concerns, whether founded or not, directly on your resume. Here are 10 ways to do just that.

1. Leave off your graduation date

You have probably heard it before, but it bears repeating: leave your graduation year OFF of your resume. (High School, Associate’s, university – all of them.) Make sure you are focusing on your current skills. Including a year is an invitation for a ready to make generational assumptions about you (Resume Tips for Avoiding Ageism (Part I: For Job Seekers Over 40), Jobscan.co, Kristen Fife).

2. Replace older font styles

Update fonts on your resume and cover letter that use older font styles, such as Times New Roman or Garamond, with more contemporary fonts like Tahoma, Verdana or Cambria. (How To Age-Proof Your Resume And LinkedIn Profile, Forbes.com, Nancy Collamer).

3. Keep your reverse-chronological resume format

Never opt for a functional version. Recruiters and hiring managers need context around when and how you developed your skills; a functional format is just a bunch of words with no structure and relatable impact. There are more than one federal compliance requirements that employers must prove they are hiring candidates that fit their job description – and a functional resume does not offer that insight (Resume Tips for Avoiding Ageism (Part I: For Job Seekers Over 40), Jobscan.co, Kristen Fife).  

4. Update your skills

Make sure you are only using the most up-to-date skills. This includes software, processes, tools, and certifications. Your skills should primarily be functional and quantifiable. You can demonstrate most “soft skills” in your phone screens and interviews (Resume Tips for Avoiding Ageism (Part I: For Job Seekers Over 40), Jobscan.co, Kristen Fife).

5. Add one space after each sentence

Nothing screams “over-40” like two spaces after a period. The rule of “two spaces after each sentence” originated back when we used typewriters for regular communication. A typewriter used monospaced typesetting, where every character on the keyboard is given the same amount of space on the paper. The extra space was needed between sentences to make it easier to see the start of a new sentence. However, with the advent of the digital age, this practice is no longer necessary. In fact, it will flag you as an older and less tech-savvy applicant in the process. Unless you are typing on an actual typewriter, you should place only one space after a period. (How to Age-Proof Your Resume, TopResume.com, Amanda Augustine).

6. Only highlight current skills

Make sure you are only including relevant functional skills that are current. Drop something you did in 2012, even if you think it is one of the highlights of your career. Hint: if a highlight of your career is 8+ years old, recruiters and hiring managers may think you need to challenge yourself more (Resume Tips for Avoiding Ageism (Part I: For Job Seekers Over 40), Jobscan.co, Kristen Fife).

7. Focus on the recent and relevant

Employers are most interested in how your recent work ties back to the job for which you’re applying rather than your experience from 15 or more years ago, according to Amanda Augustine, certified professional career coach and resume writer at TopResume. “Dedicate more resume space to detailing the positions you’ve held over the past 10 to 15 years that are related to your current job goals,” she advises. Leave off anything further back, unless it’s absolutely critical.

By including too much detail, older workers can also appear overqualified, says Nancy Von Horn, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. Rather than inundate a hiring manager with extraneous information, focus on the talents that truly set you apart and coincide with those the company is seeking. (4 Smart Moves to Age-Proof Your Resume as an Older Worker, TheMuse.com, Elizabeth Alterman).

8. Sync up your resume and LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a valuable platform for connecting with others in your industry and uncovering new job opportunities. It’s also an important place to advertise your candidacy to prospective employers. In fact, a study by recruiting software provider Jobvite found that 93 percent of employers admit to reviewing candidates’ social network profiles — regardless of whether the candidates provided that information.

If you’ve avoided using LinkedIn in the past, now’s the time to create a profile that supports your career goals. Then, customize your LinkedIn profile URL and add it to the top of your resume to ensure recruiters find the right profile for you (13 Tips to Age-Proof Your Resume, Glassdoor.com).

Make sure your LinkedIn profile—companies, titles, and dates—match your resume!. Hiring managers and recruiters look at your LinkedIn profile, and if the two are disparate, they may assume you are lying on one of them. 

9. Limit your resume to two pages

Recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume and application that comes across their desk before deciding if the candidate deserves further consideration. If you want your resume to be noticed by hiring managers, keep it short so they get the gist of your work history within that 10-second timeframe. (How to Age-Proof Your Resume, Business News Daily, Jennifer Post).

10. Tailor, tailor, tailor

Simplify your resume as much as you can. Seasoned professionals have a tendency to try and pile on everything they have done to impress a potential employer. Keep a master document (think of it as a “brain dump”) with all your experiences; pick and choose the most salient examples for any job you are applying for. This is what is usually referred to as “tailoring your resume.” You will never be all things to all employers. Showcase your expertise for the job at hand and show that you are the singular best fit for the role.

Want to find out if your resume is ATS-friendly and tailored to the job? Paste your resume and job description below to see your custom match score and tips for taking your resume to the next level (Resume Tips for Avoiding Ageism (Part I: For Job Seekers Over 40), Jobscan.co, Kristen Fife).


Career Coaching for the Mid-Level Career Professional

I have worked with entry-level and mid-level career professionals for nearly ten years, helping them reconsider their strengths and ways to learn new skills. Let me know if there is anything I can do to support you as you develop this new skill.

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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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