Are you concerned about age discrimination? While most job seekers fear discrimination by hiring managers, the truth is that you’re more likely to be discriminated against by a computer.
Most 50-something or older job seekers don’t realize that the technology they leverage to apply for jobs may be screening them out of consideration. Sadly, this is one of the most common reasons that job seekers don’t get the interviews they want and deserve.
Here’s the key thing you need to know. The databases, or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), that employers, recruiters, and job boards use to parse, store, and analyze incoming resumes are capable of estimating how much experience you possess.
When recruiters or hiring executives search these databases for candidates with a certain amount of experience – let’s say 12-15 years – the ATS will screen out candidates who possess anything other than 12, 13, 14, or 15 years. As a result, your resume or LinkedIn profile will not be listed in the resulting candidate search — this eliminates your candidacy before a human even sees your resume or LinkedIn profile.
Please note that while job boards, companies, and recruiters are not intending to discriminate, the technology they are using to organize the flood of resumes they receive is doing so inadvertently. This means that every time your resume is entered into a job board system, company website, or recruiter website, the experience filtering described above may occur. It also means that your LinkedIn profile could be subjected to this same filtering process any time a company or recruiter searches for candidates like you with a specific amount of experience in mind.
If you’re currently in or plan to launch a part-time or full-time search for a new role, take time to age-proof your resume and LinkedIn profile. Three simple changes will boost your candidacy, help you attract more opportunities, and win you more job interviews:
1. Revamp your LinkedIn photo.
While I strongly recommend a professional headshot (you can get one in most markets for $100-$200), an amateur photographer might work if you know one who takes good portrait shots. The key is an attractive pose that makes the most of your facial characteristics and personality while minimizing any age-related deficits. If you have silver hair as I do, for example, consider using a dark background or black & white photo to reduce the risk of a washed-out appearance.
Select a pose that conveys energy and vitality and hints at the wisdom youth simply can’t replicate. Use a full-face smile to project energy with the photo and make sure you dress in interview-ready attire.
2. Eliminate dates from your education listings on your resume and LinkedIn.
It’s standard these days for most folks over 30 to omit education dates from resumes and LinkedIn. This is easy enough to do on your resume where you can also omit dates of training, certifications, licensure, or affiliations. In short, omit any date prior to 2000, since most recruiters only want to see the last 10-15 years of your experience on your resume or LinkedIn profile.
To achieve this on LinkedIn you will need to choose Edit Your Profile, and then edit your Education section. Select the “—“option in the drop-down box for your start and finish dates. Eliminate dates from other sections, as well.
3. Remove pre-2000 dates from your work history sections on your resume and LinkedIn.
This is a little more complex but well worth doing. On your resume, list your post-2000 work experience in its own section and separate your pre-2000 experience into an early career section. For your pre-2000 jobs, omit your dates of employment and list the amounts instead. For example, if you worked at GE from 1992-2000, report that as “8 years.”
LinkedIn doesn’t allow members to omit dates from employment so your only choice is to eliminate pre-2000 jobs altogether. Try embedding a short version of older jobs in your last post-2000 listing or briefly noting relevant older roles in your LinkedIn summary. Either tactic will help you win more LinkedIn profile views.
While I don’t recommend using online job boards as a key component in an effective career search at almost any age (there are other more powerful and faster ways to create and pursue career opportunities for yourself), the truth is that these systems inadvertently “discriminate” against candidates with more than 15 years of work experience.
Unfortunately, this same potential exists on LinkedIn and company/recruiter websites anytime a hiring executive or recruiter conducts a candidate search based on the amount of experience job seekers possess. The good news is that a few simple tricks can protect your resume and LinkedIn profile and give you greater access to the career opportunities you want and deserve.
For more tips on taking your LinkedIn presence to the next level, register for my free webinar, Supercharge Your LinkedIn Presence & Recession-Proof Your Career, on June 16, 2014.
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