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:
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.”
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.
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.”