Am I Too Old to Get the Job I Want? Can My Resume Help?

Do you suffer from age discrimination in your job search? If you're sending out tons of resumes and getting few or no responses, you could be wondering, "Am I too old to get a job I want? Does my resume make me look too old for my job objective? If so, can a change to my resume help?"

If you strongly suspect dates on your resume could be costing you job interviews, read my advice on how to handle dates on your resume to avoid age discrimination and browse lots of resume samples that have handled the issue of age discrimination.

How Old is Too Old to Get the Job I Want?

If you're not sure if ageism is holding back your job search, then you need to answer this question:

From the employer's point of view in your industry, what is the age -- or age-range -- of the perfect applicant for your job objective?

This is a difficult question and it might not be easy to answer. But, to increase your chances of getting a job interview, do your best to find at last a 10-year spread for the preferred age for the job you seek. Then adjust the dates on your resume accordingly.

Here are some ways to get the skinny on an employer's age preference for the job you would like.

Ask members of your personal and professional network.
Because age is a sensitive topic for many people, it may be hard to get an honest answer. Try wording the question carefully to make it easy for them to give you a straight answer. For example: Which do you think would fit into the management culture at ABC Company, someone who's 30-something, 40-something, or 50-something?

Ask yourself these questions that lean on your professional experience, common sense, and intuition.

  1. How old do you think your boss will be? Is he likely to be uncomfortable managing someone your age? If you're much older than he, consider showing less experience on your resume (while still listing your most relevant positions). Once your resume wins the interview you'll be in a position to show your enthusiasm and skill level.
  2. What is the listed salary for the job (or what does career research tell you the salary is likely to be? Try to make your perceived age on your resume match the employer's (and your) salary expectations (older often equals more expensive.)
  3. How many years of experience does it take to be at the top of your game in your profession? Is it to your advantage to list more than the minimum amount?

To get more ideas, I asked some other career development professionals how they get the inside scoop on age preferences. Here are two responses:

Career Coach Peter Jacobs (gccoach.com) wrote:
"Look at the number of years of experience and degree desired per the job description. Add the years of experience to the average age at which people earn the degree.

Ask people in the job or industry for median "age range" of people doing the job. Also ask if they have known of people doing that job who are outside that range and what, if anything, distinguishes those people."

Career Trainer Bob McIntosh (linkedin.com/in/bobmcintosh1) said:
"Jobseekers can use sources like AARP to research age-friendly companies.

They can also conduct research through LinkedIn by going to the Companies tab, which provides great demographic information, as well as a list of people the mature job seeker may know.

Also, network with people (within companies or at networking groups) who have first-hand experience in this matter."

After doing your research ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Am I perceived as too old to get the job I want?
  2. If so, what am I going to do about it on my resume?

Well, readers, how do you gage an employer's perception of the ideal age for a job candidate in your field and level of employment?