Is your CV ageing you out of the screening process?

May 08, 2015

Whether we like it or not, the reality is that while illegal, age discrimination does occur in the job market. If you’re looking at the other side of 45, it pays to pay attention not only to the content of your resume, but also its presentation.

How can you make yours age-proof now? Here are the CV Saviour’s top 10 do’s and don’ts for age-proofing your CV in 2015.

1. Don’t include your home address

Irrespective of age, in the first instance, including your home address could potentially expose to you to economic and demographic profiling. Your address could also influence the screener because in their opinion, you live too far away from the place of employment and they might make assumptions about the length of your commute that don’t work in your favour.

The flip side of this is if a job advertisement specifically states that locals will be given preferential consideration. If this is the case, by all means indicate the city or town in which you live, but leave the detail out. And yes, we’ve heard anecdotes about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) screening out candidates based on their location, or lack thereof. For every position you apply for, wherever possible, we always advise that a candidate makes contact with the employer/recruiter before submitting an application. Ask if there is any preference with regard to the location of candidates, and reflect the response in your CV.

2. Don’t include your home telephone number.

Including a home telephone number ages your CV no matter which way you look at it. Not to mention the conflicting message it conveys when the teenager answers it in a fit of giggles with the TV blaring in the background after you’ve painstakingly portrayed yourself in your CV as the commensurate professional with an impeccable grasp of technology. If you don’t have a mobile number, you should get one, otherwise there are plenty of other options such as FaceTime and Skype as alternatives (which will definitely show you as tech savvy!)

3. Never, ever include your date of birth or other irrelevant and personal information.

It should go without saying that you should not include your date of birth. It’s no one’s business. If you’re ever tempted to, imagine the reaction of the 17-year old HR Assistant who is performing the initial screen on applications when she calculates that you’re older than her mother (who she already considers feeble and incompetent).

Careful with other personal information too. You might be very proud of your Probus Club membership and your ‘Golden Oldies Bingo Queen’ title, but unless it adds value to your application for the position advertised, don’t include it. The same goes for your height, weight, marital status, number of children, health status, religious views or political leanings.

4. Do check that your email address doesn’t work against you.

We’ve worked with many clients over the years who are more than happy to share an email address with a spouse or partner, but when it comes to work, you’re being employed, not both of you. Make sure you have a professional email address, in your name. There is an abundance of free email service providers out there, and it can cost as little as A$15 a year to set up a personal address such as [email protected]

And if you’re still hanging on to the [email protected] or [email protected], you might want to rethink how that positions you in the eyes of an employer when you’re a 50-something planning on re-entering the workforce as a power suit-wearing, international corporate player ready to take on the world.

Surveys have also suggested that using certain email providers can be detrimental to the personal brand you’re trying to present. While some might argue that an email address from a certain provider might be something of a status symbol, a survey back in 2011 suggested that, amongst other things, for example that AOL email address users were most likely to be overweight women, aged 35-64, with a high school diploma. Food for thought!

5. Do make sure the skills you list are current.

Just because you learned how to manage a switchboard while on work experience 35 years ago, it won’t add any value to your resume if:

a) you’ve never used it since,

b) it’s now obsolete, and

c) it holds no relevance to the job your applying for now.

Whether it’s a technical skill or hard skill you’ve not used in the past 5 years or developed since, leave it out, unless you can turn it to your advantage in the context of the job of offer.

6. Don’t list every job you’ve ever had.

Employers are generally only interested in current and relevant skills, and what you can do for them now. They don’t need to know that your first job out of high school 40 years ago was delivering newspapers on your bicycle. While often they like to know about the pathway you took to get where you are now and the skills you learned along the way, they don’t need to know every detail about every job you’ve ever had. You can fill them in on the detail in the interview (if they are interested enough to ask). The past 10 – 15 years experience is generally sufficient.

7. Don’t double-space after a full stop.

We’re still not sure why, but when we learned to touch type on typewriters, we were taught to place a double space after a full stop. Typewriters went out of use in our workplace back in 80s. Style guides today invariably state that one space is sufficient after a full stop now, and there will always be exceptions, but take a stand on style, delete the double space, and shave a few years off your ageing CV.

8: Do take the dates off your professional qualifications.

Unless you have a strong strategic reason for including your graduation dates, there is no reason to include the dates of the years for when you gained your qualifications. While some will argue that omitting dates is a give-away to employers that you may be hiding your age, we advise you exercise judgement for each application. These days, qualifications are left on for new grads. Anyone over the age of 25 shouldn’t include graduation dates.

9: Don’t include a photo.

A photo could provide cause for discrimination, and are advised for certain roles for example if you are a model or actor. As a rule of thumb though, don’t include a photo on your resume – keep it for LinkedIn.

10: Do try and get 70 per cent of your key information on the front page of your CV.

It’s your most valuable real estate, so make the most of the front page. If you can’t capture the attention of the screener right at the beginning, they’re unlikely to turn the page over to read about you in more detail. Include a brief career summary, key skills sets, professional achievements that align with the role on offer, and other key points that will help land your CV in the ‘yes’ pile.

Have you tried to apply for a job in your 60s? What levels of success did you have? Have you had any feedback about your resume?

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