3 Ways Successful Women Look Experienced on Their Resume Without Revealing Their Age

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Debra Wheatman150
Branding Expert ★ Career Strategist
May 25, 2024 at 9:11PM UTC

Everyone knows a job search can be rocky. Job seekers lament numerous issues, the least of which is presenting information on a résumé without revealing age. Given the situations job seekers encounter—from minimal feedback during the interview process and “thanks but no thanks” notes that offer little more than a cursory “we’re moving on”—it should come as no surprise that women looking for their next position are seeking ways to stand out from a sea of candidates.

Ageism against older workers is alive and well. Despite hearing “it’s illegal to discriminate based on age,” it happens. As women climb the corporate ranks, assuming new and challenging roles in hard-to-fill technology, financial and other positions, one of the overriding concerns remains: How does one include older positions without giving away age? 

A résumé is a marketing tool: an opportunity to capitalize on your years of wisdom, experience and talents to demonstrate that past performance is an indicator of future success. However, being an older job seeker doesn’t always feel like a competitive advantage. Your résumé is one of the first ways a potential employer learns about you. Here are some tips to help set you up for success without revealing your age.

1. Don’t date yourself.

While it is important to list dates for the jobs you have held, you don’t need to include graduation dates from your degree programs. Education demonstrates your willingness to learn and improve. It’s important to highlight that you completed the degree. As you progress in your career, the achievements supersede the importance of the degree. Dates of graduation do not reveal your ability to do the work. Include the name of the institution and the degree you completed—nothing more.

There is no reason to highlight work older than 12-15 years. Providing too much history can offer a window into your age and trigger unconscious bias. Leave off outdated information (examples: you were involved in a Y2K project or your proficiency in Cobol). Highlight progressive information that demonstrates your relevance in an evolving and changing market. Eliminate outdated technologies and certifications that have no bearing on the roles you are pursuing.

Do not use an email address that includes numbers associated with your birth year. Similarly, don’t use an outdated email address. Hotmail and AOL are obsolete and dated; instead, use a gmail.com, me.com, or mac.com address. 

2. Highlight the most relevant information.

Your résumé is an opportunity to showcase your talents. In many cases, your best work is done in more recent positions—but not always. There are numerous instances of work when completed earlier in one’s career should show at the top of the résumé. How do you do this without dating yourself? A strategic way to move pertinent information to the top of the résumé is to leverage the hybrid résumé style. The top third of the résumé is your prime real estate. You can place content at the top of the document that highlights your most impactful work. No dates are needed.

Your résumé should not be an exhaustive list of everything you have done. It’s most important to highlight your achievements. Wherever possible, quantify the outcomes of your work. This will serve to underscore your contributions to the company’s goals. Your résumé is a marketing and branding tool that illustrates the best you have to offer.

It is acceptable to have a two-page résumé. Don’t try to cram your information into one page just because you think that is what people expect. If content is king, aesthetic value is queen. In addition to the well-written content, your résumé should be easy to read and eye-pleasing. Your job is to solve the problem the hiring manager is experiencing. You will have to tweak your résumé for each opportunity to ensure alignment with the job. Don’t rewrite it; include keywords and examples that support the description with a clear connection to your work. 

3. Don’t mind the gap.

It is not uncommon for older people to take time off for family matters or care for a sick or aging relative. You are not alone. As people balance their careers with providing care to family members, you may need to take a break to focus on personal matters requiring 100% of your attention. According to a recent survey by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 34 million Americans have served as unpaid caregivers to someone aged 50 or older.

Don’t try to hide a gap on the résumé. Be honest and prepare to address the time off in a positive manner. If you also did some volunteer or community service during the gap period, put that on the résumé to highlight your involvement. The same applies to any board or advisory work you have completed for other companies. Tailor your résumé to highlight your ability to meet the role's key requirements.

Focus on the positive attributes that make you a well-rounded fit for the position. While the process can feel overwhelming, be kind to yourself and don’t let these things hold you back. Move forward with purpose. It is not a question of if you will get your next role—only when.

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This article was written by an FGB contributor.

Debra Wheatman is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. She is also the Founder and President of Careers Done Write, which provides marketing and branding for individuals in search of their dream job. Find out more on LinkedIn or the Careers Done Write website.

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