[05.25.10]
86 great comments!

If You Discriminate, I Am 44

age discrimination, ageism, aging, discrimination, during, employment, hid, job interview, Job Search, jobs, labor, management, professional resume, recruitment, resume, social issues, social philosophy, social psychology, tell, told people, video resume

You will never put this on top of your professional resume.  Whether you are 44 or 64.

But sometimes the job search can get very frustrating.  To the point that you might think about doing something like this to get a point across.

The point being that a company or hiring manager that uses age discrimination will eventually learn that you are not 32.  And will allow that bias to influence them.  So we might as well just tell them up front, right?

The other option that many try is the opposite.  You go out of your way to hide your age.  Leaving your first three jobs off of your professional resume.  And removing the graduating dates from your education summary.

And I don’t blame you for doing that.

The problem is that everyone knows that if the dates aren’t there, you are probably older than you’d like to admit.  And if the first job on your resume was “Director of Finance”, it probably wasn’t your first.  You are hiding something.

So what if we stopped hiding?  Became less driven by the possibility of age discrimination in employment?

And I know that many of you will share stories of more honest resumes getting no reaction.  No response at all.  Until you made changes like the ones above to make your age less obvious.

Here’s the rationale for why people do this:

If I can make my age less obvious on a professional resume, I will at least have a chance during a face-to-face interview to show what I can do.  To show my energy, up-to-date skills, and smarts.  To hopefully remove age as an issue for the hiring manager.

And I’m sure there are examples out there of this being the case.  But it also could be that age was never an issue.  You simply got through the interview for all the right reasons.  You were qualified, skilled and a good fit for the company culture.

I’m not going to tell you to stop shaving years off your resume.  After all, the resume is a marketing document.  There to highlight relevant information to a hiring company.  And age is not relevant.

But if you are 40+, I will tell you (you especially) to:

  1. Stop relying on your resume to get you a job.  Rely on your career network.  The people that know you.  Know your work and work style.  In my opinion, the introduction and recommendation from your network is a more successful distraction than leaving off dates and jobs.  It is a more confident step forward.
  2. Avoid applying for jobs that are one or two levels below your last position.  They may be in your industry or a good fit for your function.  But this can make the age issue more prominent.  Especially if their issue is really less about age and more about where you are in your career.  I know it is hard to ignore a job listing that has relevance.  But you need to be more targeted as you look for your next role.

What has your experience been with age discrimination in employment?  Have you ever felt like adding this stamp to the top of your resume?

Tim Tyrell-Smith is the creator of Tim’s Strategy. As a blogger, Tim has been a regular contributor to U.S. News and World Report, interviewed twice on NPR and is the author of two career books (“30 Ideas” and “HeadStrong”). Become a fan at http://facebook.com/TimsStrategy and follow on Twitter (@TimsStrategy). He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Tim Tyrell-Smith – who has written posts on Tim's Strategy®.



Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Cover Letters And Resumes
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  • Richard Carter

    Here’s the reality: They discriminate.
    It’s illegal, so what. There’s no enforcement, and there’s no way to catch them at it beyond recording the interview.
    We have all gone through it. We know it when it’s happening.
    One of the best methods I’ve seen that was told to me many years ago was a gentleman who applied for a position he knew he was qualified for. He also knew he was being discriminated against. (I won’t say which form.) At the end of the interview, which was being conducted by a very young HR person, he simply asked if he could use the phone on her desk. She said it was fine. He picked up the receiver, looked at here and told her he was qualified, and he knew he was being discriminated against; and that if they didn’t hire him on the spot, he was calling his lawyer to begin proceedings. The HR person ran away and came back about ten minutes later stating he was hired. He worked there for a number of years.
    In effect, he put his foot down. Sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself.

  • Richard Carter

    Pat,
    You are correct. I doubt we will again be considered. The best thing we can do is compete directly with them. I have been working on the same idea. Contact me via LinkedIn. You have the name, search for Minneapolis.
    Let’s talk and see if we can’t increase our efforts.

  • Richard Carter

    Pat,
    You are correct. I doubt we will again be considered. The best thing we can do is compete directly with them. I have been working on the same idea. Contact me via LinkedIn. You have the name, search for Minneapolis.
    Let’s talk and see if we can’t increase our efforts.

  • Gloria Ritenour

    I think my age being 62 almost 63 has affected my thinking about my future finding a job. I really would like to have a full time permanent position either in education, or in an office setting since I have split my career in both directions over the past 30 years… however, my age has left me wondering if I should just settle for substitute teaching and collecting social security at this point since I don’t have stability in one career or another but have split my years working in two different types of industry…one as a middle/high school English, speech and theater arts teacher and the other working 8 years as a Business Development Coordinator, Communications Coordinator and Administrative Staff Member in a variety of real estate companies, both large and small. Other Administrative and Secretarial experiences have been in a variety of both Federal government and private industry settings. So I am very eclectic in my background and know this presents stability issues for any future employer. ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW I CAN LOOK AT THIS TYPE OF BACKGROUND, COUPLED WITH MY AGE REGARDING HOW TO PRESENT MYSELF AND ALSO HOW TO BETTER LOOK AT THIS SITUATION GIVEN THE PRESENT JOB MARKET. THANK YOU! Gloria

    • http://www.timsstrategy.com Tim Tyrell-Smith

      @Richard – Wow, that took some guts and I am frankly surprised at how that story ended. Threats are not usually responded to that way. . . .

      @Gloria – Having an eclectic background in this economy can be a challenge. And only you know your situation well enough to determine whether it is time to settle in to a part time role. But I will say that networking is your best option. Using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to re-connect with your work community. Getting out to events so that you are not just a “resume” but a known entity to companies looking for smart people. If you’d like, I can send you a few links to posts on networking strategy if you are not already an expert. Would also be happy to share a few quick ideas over the phone! Let me know . . .

    • Suzahmed1

      Gloria, I hope you don’t give up! You have a lot to offer!

  • Gloria Ritenour

    I think my age being 62 almost 63 has affected my thinking about my future finding a job. I really would like to have a full time permanent position either in education, or in an office setting since I have split my career in both directions over the past 30 years… however, my age has left me wondering if I should just settle for substitute teaching and collecting social security at this point since I don’t have stability in one career or another but have split my years working in two different types of industry…one as a middle/high school English, speech and theater arts teacher and the other working 8 years as a Business Development Coordinator, Communications Coordinator and Administrative Staff Member in a variety of real estate companies, both large and small. Other Administrative and Secretarial experiences have been in a variety of both Federal government and private industry settings. So I am very eclectic in my background and know this presents stability issues for any future employer. ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW I CAN LOOK AT THIS TYPE OF BACKGROUND, COUPLED WITH MY AGE REGARDING HOW TO PRESENT MYSELF AND ALSO HOW TO BETTER LOOK AT THIS SITUATION GIVEN THE PRESENT JOB MARKET. THANK YOU! Gloria

    • http://www.timsstrategy.com Tim Tyrell-Smith

      @Richard – Wow, that took some guts and I am frankly surprised at how that story ended. Threats are not usually responded to that way. . . .

      @Gloria – Having an eclectic background in this economy can be a challenge. And only you know your situation well enough to determine whether it is time to settle in to a part time role. But I will say that networking is your best option. Using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to re-connect with your work community. Getting out to events so that you are not just a “resume” but a known entity to companies looking for smart people. If you’d like, I can send you a few links to posts on networking strategy if you are not already an expert. Would also be happy to share a few quick ideas over the phone! Let me know . . .

  • Bill Doerr

    I am absolutely bowled over by the frank exchange of information concerning age-related job discrimination on this website. I always read anything I see in magazines, newspapers, and other print media concerning age-related discrimination in the workplace, and it all pretty much has an unrealistic feel to it. That is certainly not the case here.

    I am an older worker, looking to change my occupation. I feel a little anxious about sharing too much information about myself in a public forum, but from what I’ve gleaned from this website, honest networking is the key to combat discrimination, and honest networking appears to require TMI of a personal nature.

    Well… here goes, within limits.

    In December 2002 I was diagnosed with a serious health issue, an issue that changed the physical quality of my life. As a result of this health problem, and the remedial surgery, I now have difficulty walking. This precluded my return to the type of work I had done for over 25 years, work which had of a fairly physical nature to it.

    I was put on long-term disability by my employer, and more or less left to my own devices when it came to supporting my wife and 2 children, and paying my home mortgage and other bills. I did recieve long term disability payments, but it only amounted to about 50% of my pre-injury income, and was only designed to last for a 2 year period. I needed to do something to regain my job marketability, and to do it fast. I returned to college, courtesy of a state veteran’s program that paid for tuition at state colleges/universites,and the GI Bill, and completed the degree I had been piddling with for over 25 years.

    I graduated after 2 years of really hard work and skyrocketing debt, and because I couldn’t strike any sparks anywhere else, I wound up working for my former employer, again, at a different, less physically demanding job.

    To be totally honest, I felt blessed beyond words to be back to work, but it’s NOT what I wanted to do after getting my degree. The income is decent, but I work weekends, and now that my youngest is starting Kindergarten (yes, I have 2 daughters: a 5 year-old AND a 12 year-old, and yes, I am a little old for this; that’s the crux of this whole problem.) I want to get off of weekend work, AND do some that has a little more responsibility, which usually translates into a higher paycheck. I want to use my experience and my education, but I believe that my age (over 50) gets in the way.

    I really believe that networking, as prescribed by Tim, is the only way to get past the old attitudes that keep older workers from suceeding the way they should. I would appreciate any feedback that anyone has that will help me network, and help me to to get to where I want to be.

    Thanks for giving me the space to lay this all out. I am grateful.

    Best regards,
    Bill Doerr

    • http://www.timsstrategy.com Tim Tyrell-Smith

      Hi Bill – Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is a big issue and your experience well-defines how it can get complicated even more. You are right that your answer is in networking. When a third party endorses you, it gives a hiring manager pause. A reason to reconsider any prejudice they may carry.

      I have a lot of content on the site on the subject of networking. You can see it here: Networking Strategy.

      I’d also be happy to chat with you over the phone to learn more about your situation and provide some more targeted ideas. Let me know!

  • Bill Doerr

    I am absolutely bowled over by the frank exchange of information concerning age-related job discrimination on this website. I always read anything I see in magazines, newspapers, and other print media concerning age-related discrimination in the workplace, and it all pretty much has an unrealistic feel to it. That is certainly not the case here.

    I am an older worker, looking to change my occupation. I feel a little anxious about sharing too much information about myself in a public forum, but from what I’ve gleaned from this website, honest networking is the key to combat discrimination, and honest networking appears to require TMI of a personal nature.

    Well… here goes, within limits.

    In December 2002 I was diagnosed with a serious health issue, an issue that changed the physical quality of my life. As a result of this health problem, and the remedial surgery, I now have difficulty walking. This precluded my return to the type of work I had done for over 25 years, work which had of a fairly physical nature to it.

    I was put on long-term disability by my employer, and more or less left to my own devices when it came to supporting my wife and 2 children, and paying my home mortgage and other bills. I did recieve long term disability payments, but it only amounted to about 50% of my pre-injury income, and was only designed to last for a 2 year period. I needed to do something to regain my job marketability, and to do it fast. I returned to college, courtesy of a state veteran’s program that paid for tuition at state colleges/universites,and the GI Bill, and completed the degree I had been piddling with for over 25 years.

    I graduated after 2 years of really hard work and skyrocketing debt, and because I couldn’t strike any sparks anywhere else, I wound up working for my former employer, again, at a different, less physically demanding job.

    To be totally honest, I felt blessed beyond words to be back to work, but it’s NOT what I wanted to do after getting my degree. The income is decent, but I work weekends, and now that my youngest is starting Kindergarten (yes, I have 2 daughters: a 5 year-old AND a 12 year-old, and yes, I am a little old for this; that’s the crux of this whole problem.) I want to get off of weekend work, AND do some that has a little more responsibility, which usually translates into a higher paycheck. I want to use my experience and my education, but I believe that my age (over 50) gets in the way.

    I really believe that networking, as prescribed by Tim, is the only way to get past the old attitudes that keep older workers from suceeding the way they should. I would appreciate any feedback that anyone has that will help me network, and help me to to get to where I want to be.

    Thanks for giving me the space to lay this all out. I am grateful.

    Best regards,
    Bill Doerr

    • http://www.timsstrategy.com Tim Tyrell-Smith

      Hi Bill – Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is a big issue and your experience well-defines how it can get complicated even more. You are right that your answer is in networking. When a third party endorses you, it gives a hiring manager pause. A reason to reconsider any prejudice they may carry.

      I have a lot of content on the site on the subject of networking. You can see it here: Networking Strategy.

      I’d also be happy to chat with you over the phone to learn more about your situation and provide some more targeted ideas. Let me know!

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  • http://twitter.com/ed_han ed han

    I go with the first option, myself. Good discussion of the two options, I thought.

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Yeah, this is a tough decision for many people. You fear “giving yourself up” if you are honest and upfront. With the chance to prove your self in person with a great presence.

      But perhaps doing so wastes valuable time if companies have discriminatory hiring practices or are simply looking for someone “younger”.

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  • Pronto212

    What a Joke – Resume info is irrevelant -TODAY ALL EMPLOYERS CHECK THE INTERNET SITES LIKE PIPL AND FIND OUT YOUR AGE INSTANTLY – THAT DISQUALIFIES YOU IMMEDIATELY WHEN THEY FIND OUT YOUR OVER 50 – I had many positive responses then nothing – yes, checked out via the web and saw my age (62) forgetaboutit

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Where discrimination occurs, there’s not much you can do. But I encourage you to stop relying on your resume anyway. Instead get out of the house and network with people. Make your age less of an issue (if it is for someone) by showing off your brand and personality in public!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_46M7SXKOAKHFGWZLCBC3F5KRQU William

    I am sick of being not only refused jobs, but also not even being considered because of my age.  I am 59, but how do I prove discrimination?  I write back/email the companies concerned in the hope that sooner or later one of them will slip up and tell the truth.  All I ask is be bloody honest and admit that they don’t want to hire an older employee!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_46M7SXKOAKHFGWZLCBC3F5KRQU William

    I am sick of being not only refused jobs, but also not even being considered because of my age.  I am 59, but how do I prove discrimination?  I write back/email the companies concerned in the hope that sooner or later one of them will slip up and tell the truth.  All I ask is be bloody honest and admit that they don’t want to hire an older employee!

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Hi William – Obviously this type of discrimination is very difficult to prove and likely not worth your valuable time.  But I hear your frustration.  Thanks for that comment.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/vinceskolny Vince Skolny

    Age is one of a couple areas in which I have very real reservations about **not** allowing discrimination. I prefer youth to experience on a variety of cultural and pragmatic issues but am, essentially, barred from building an Organization according to those principles.

    Or, at least, modifying practices to build it in such a way that it is not legal discrimination.

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Hey Vince and thanks for that viewpoint. I would agree there are jobs where someone younger in their career might fit the bill better. Or perhaps someone who is more open to the ideas or methods that the role would require.

      • http://www.twitter.com/vinceskolny Vince Skolny

        Doubly frustrating in that young people have no protection.


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