Most people understand that it’s illegal to discriminate against job candidates based on characteristics like age. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Decades ago, before the first age discrimination laws were passed in the United States, there was nothing to prevent employers from considering a candidate’s age. Since that time, several laws have been passed to limit that practice.
Unfortunately, however, discrimination isn’t always a conscious thing, and some employers continue to employ subconscious discriminatory practices during their hiring process. Often, this discrimination occurs during the resume process, and especially when candidates include their age or date of birth on their resumes.
That begs the question: while job candidates should be as forthcoming as possible, does that mean that they should include age or date of birth information on their resumes?
Should you Include Your Age or Date of Birth On a Resume?
The answer should be clear: no.
You don’t need to include your age or date of birth on a resume if you’re applying for jobs in the U.S. or Canada.
(Some countries like India and Asia may require a CV where you would include your date of birth. We wrote a good post here on the difference between a resume and CV.)
In this article, we’ll examine the impact of including age or date of birth details in a resume and explain why it’s never a good idea.
Those Legal Safeguards Can’t Protect You Against Unintentional Bias
While there are laws to protect you against conscious age discrimination, they offer little protection during the resume consideration process. The fact remains that many of today’s top employers prefer younger workers.
That’s especially true in industries like technology, and other dynamic sectors. Older workers are often perceived as less flexible, less dynamic, and less able to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies and evolving work practices. While those perceptions may not be based in reality, they exist all the same. And that could harm you if age or date of birth information in your resume identifies you as an older worker.
Since you need an interview to land most jobs, you must ensure that your resume offers no details that might invite unintentional bias. That means leaving out age or date of birth information altogether. By omitting this information, you can achieve a number of important goals:
- Your resume will be more focused on relevant details that demonstrate you’re the right candidate for the position.
- You can avoid a potential negative perception and have a better chance of landing an interview.
- By omitting age or date of birth details, you can help the employer focus instead on your achievements and qualifications.
How to Hide Your Age on a Resume
Of course, there’s more to hiding your age than omitting age or date of birth information in your resume. After all, there are other clues that employers might use to deduce your approximate age. For example, if you include your educational graduation date, that provides a reasonable estimate of your age.
The same is true if you include thirty years of work experience. Obviously, you need to carefully consider how you list every bit of information in your resume.
To avoid leaving that trail of breadcrumbs, you should take the following steps:
- Remove your graduation year. To do that effectively, try to just focus on the names of the schools, course of study, and relevant achievements.
- Remove any dates for certifications, awards, or other honors.
- Include no more than 10-15 years of work experience on your resume. The reality is that your earliest experience is often less relevant anyway. Chances are you were using now-outdated systems and dealing with technologies or issues that are less applicable in today’s economy. By keeping that experience section recent, you can better ensure that it’s more relevant to today’s employer needs.
- For relevant experience earlier than 15 years ago, include a section titled “additional experience” and simply list those experiences without any corresponding dates.
- Be sure to include details about your technological know-how. Just make sure that you’re listing only relevant technical prowess, and that you actually are familiar with the technology.
As an older, seasoned worker, you have much to offer to today’s employers. Unfortunately, age bias is a real problem that often prevents qualified older workers from being considered for employment. By proactively eliminating age or date of birth details from your resume, you can minimize your chances of being denied for discriminatory reasons. And that will help increase your odds of landing an interview and job.