7 Tips for Overcoming Age Bias When Job Hunting

Here are some ideas to help a potential employer see your skills not your age.

senior woman job applicant having an interview
Updated May 28, 2024
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Looking for a new job can be stressful no matter your age, though sometimes how old you are might concern you. Maybe you’re worried because you’re young and just starting out. Perhaps you’re an older worker trying to bounce back because you just got laid off or want to find better job security in a new position.  

Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to combat ageism and land that new position.

Update your LinkedIn page

wichayada/Adobe Woman using computer looking at LinkedIn login page in laptop screen

LinkedIn is the largest online professional network with 810 million users, which is why it has become so important for recruiters and potential employers. If you’re looking for a new job, now would be a good time to give your LinkedIn page a refresh. Update your experiences with detailed information, adding in examples of your work. Be sure to also add any certifications or awards you may have recently received to your page.

Add former co-workers and supervisors to your contacts list, and ask if they can write references on your LinkedIn page. As you look through the network’s listings, see if anyone in your network works there.

Highlight recent and relevant experience

Drazen/Adobe job applicant holds her resume

Yes, you can be proud of your prestigious summer internship when you were fresh out of high school, but it may be time to cut it from your resume. The same can be applied to your college job that might have zero relevance to the field you hoped to get hired into. Instead, stick with recent work experience showing your current expertise in your profession.

Drop your graduation dates

Andrey Popov/Adobe mature man editing his resume

Earning a degree is a major accomplishment and a great example of learning relevant information for a particular subject or profession. But when you’re listing any schools you attended or degrees you earned, leave out your graduation year. This is an easy way for potential employers to decide if you’re too old or too young for a position and drop your resume from contention, even if they don’t consciously realize that’s what they’re doing.

Modernize your resume

insta_photos/Adobe Human resources recruitment

It’s not just about what’s on your resume that could show your age but also how your resume looks. Font styles are a good way to make your resume look crisp and clean, but they can also make it look dated or too trendy. In the age of email, potential employers may not care about your street address or the difference between “landline” and “mobile” phone numbers.

Pro tip: Using a resume template may help you streamline your one-pager so it looks both professional and modern.

Get relevant training

itchaznong/Adobe hands of a woman using Microsoft Teams social platform

Programs like Microsoft Word or Excel have become standard for many fields. If a specific job you are applying to lists these skills, then it would be wise to include. But also focus on continuing education courses or certifications you may have received that are vital in the particular position you are hoping to land. It can show you’re knowledgeable about the latest technology and keep you competitive in the market for years to come.

Be confident

Photographee.eu/Adobe senior job applicant answering the questions

Once you land an in-person interview, even more pressure is added. In a survey by WerkLabs of professionals over the age of 40, 69% said their search was derailed by a face-to-face interview. This often is attributed to ageism. To combat this, emphasize all of your skills so the focus stays there. Dress in what makes you feel confident and professional. Be prepared to detail your talents articulately — you have a resume full of them, share it proudly.

Pro tip: If you feel you weren’t hired because of the way you look or based solely on your age, that’s likely a place you wouldn’t want to work. An excellent potential employer will center on the skills you would bring to the company, not your looks.

Work your network

220 Selfmade studio/Adobe woman writing down a job character reference while on phone

Think about who you know and how you know them. A former co-worker or an associate in your profession can attest to your experience or relevant strengths for a potential position. They also may be able to get you directly in touch with a hiring manager or company representative, which could help you bypass those online applications that filter your resume. Ask your contacts if they know of any job openings or would be willing to be a reference for you.

Pro tip: Do some research on which companies have the best jobs for workers of all ages in your profession and check to see if you have any connections there.

Bottom line

MclittleStock/Adobe hands of a man searching for jobs in the internet

More than 50% of job seekers have found job applications that they believe required age-related information, according to WerkLabs.

But if you’re just starting out or trying to bounce back from a job loss, there are ways to put the spotlight on your accomplishments and not things like your age. These simple steps can ensure that your work experience shines when trying to get a new position.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.