Is It Ever Okay To Lie About Your Age On Your Resume?

No matter if you want to look more experienced or want to hide that you've been working for decades, there are ways to (ethically) cover up your age on your resume.

From trying to look younger to convincing people you are more experienced, it seems few people are happy with the age they are. But beyond vanity there may be compelling reasons to cover-up your age on your resume.

Lisa Johnson Mandell says faced age discrimination when she turned 49. After over 20 years in entertainment broadcasting, she was being overlooked for jobs she felt she should have been offered. Johnson Mandell felt her years of experience was an asset until her husband, Jim Mandell, president of a Hollywood voiceover agency, told her the truth; she was being rejected because she was considered to be too old.

Author of Career Comeback -- Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want, Johnson Mandell says “In today’s economic environment it’s an employers’ market, with more job seekers than jobs. If a 20-something-year-old assistant is screening applicants and sees you graduated over 20 years ago, he may automatically think of his parents. Why give him ammunition to eliminate you?”

If you’re between the ages of 27 and 37, you needn’t worry; you’re in what Johnson Mandell calls the “sweet spot”--young enough to be hip and relevant but not old enough where you might appear to be out of it. If you’re not, you’ve got work to do. While she doesn’t recommend saying you’re 35 when you’re 45, Johnson Mandell does suggest that you do everything you can to cover up how old you are. She used to recommend hiding their age for people over 40, but she says it can also help those who are fresh out of school who want to appear older and more experienced.

“When my niece graduated from Berkley, she felt her GPA was her biggest strength, so she put it at the top of her resume,” she says. “No one cares about your GPA if you have no experience. Always lead with your strength; discrimination can also happen if you appear too young.”

Johnson Mandell says there are three things you can do to make your resume timeless:

1. Delete work experience that is 15 years or older.

Whatever you were doing in 2000, is probably no longer relevant in today’s workplace. “The way we teach, work, manage, produce, create--everything has changed,” says Johnson Mandell.

For example, 15 years ago, Johnson Mandell was a magazine editor. Her job involved X-acto knives and wax, color separations and boards. “All those things have changed completely,” she says. “That experience wouldn’t serve as any indicator of how well I’d do as a magazine editor today.”

2. Remove your year of graduation.

The college or university you attended is important. So is your major. But your graduation date isn’t relevant to a potential employer, says Johnson Mandell. Instead of listing the year you earned your degree, just list your education, and put it at the bottom of your resume.

3. Highlight your best accomplishments.

If deleting older work history means you delete impressive accolades, Johnson Mandell says there’s still a way to make those known.

“Where people used to put their ‘career objective,’ at the top of their resume, make yours look younger and fresher by creating a bulleted list of ‘accomplishments,’” says Johnson Mandell. “Include three to five--without dates, of course.”

[Image: Flickr user Roger H. Goun]

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1 Comments

  • As a professional recruiter working for some of the largest and best known companies in the world, I can say unequivocally that this is terrible advice.

    Think about it - What's going to happen if you follow all of this advice and get an interview? Are you going to dye out your gray hair? Perhaps buy some “younger looking” clothes? Maybe grow a hipster beard? How are you going to continue the lie? You’re not. The truth is going to come out and you’re going to be eliminated from consideration from the job because you lied. It’s a shame too, because maybe you could have gotten the job based on your true qualifications.

    The bottom line is that the right employer will value your true experience if they are indeed the right employer.

    Neither of these writers have any recruiting or HR experience and it shows.