Make sure your resume highlights your skills — not your age.

Does your professional resume proclaim "experienced" or does it squeak "old?" Does it represent the capable person that you want recruiters to see? Your resume may be saying things about you when you're not in the room — things that may cause employers to perceive you as obsolete. You may be keeping up with the latest technologies, but if you are committing one or more of these resume faux pas, recruiters may incorrectly assume that your skill set is archaic, that your thinking is rigid, or that you may not fit in the modern workplace.

As we progress through our careers, we tend to hang on to the status quo. However, when we're facing a world of fierce competition in the job market, it's essential to modernize our resume to combat age discrimination. Unless you're OK with being passed over by younger, less experienced candidates, you've got to reexamine your first line of defense: your resume.

It's empowering to know that what you convey on your resume can be adjusted to reflect a more up-to-date sensibility. A few subtle resume edits can go far in undoing a hiring manager's preconceived notions of antiquated skills, fixed thinking, or an inability to change. To ensure your resume is highlighting your value, rather than your age, start by addressing these common resume mistakes people over 50 tend to make:

1. Your resume is the length of a short novel

OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration. But if your resume is more than two pages long, it is a serious indicator that you're out of touch with today's resume best practices. The sheer number of applicants per position makes it unlikely that any recruiter will spend more than 10 seconds on any given resume. We get it; your resume is your personal work history. It's often hard to determine what to leave in and what to take out, particularly when you have a long work history. This is where a professional resume writer can help you fine-tune your application and cut down what isn't relevant to the position you're gunning for. They will also help to take the focus away from your age and focus it back to what you have to offer a company.

2. You're still using an AOL email account

While AOL's familiar “You've Got Mail” message inspired a Hollywood movie, AOL harks back to the early days of email and Instant Messenger. Do yourself a favor and ditch your old Comcast, AOL, Hotmail, or other, antiquated email account for a free, professional-looking Gmail address that incorporates your name (for example,  Create this new email account to be used solely for your job search. Resist the temptation to share your new email address with family and friends, so that all the mail that you receive there is exclusively for employer communication.

3. The phone number on your resume is for your landline

While we're on the subject of contact information, make sure that you are only listing ONE phone number at the top of your resume: your cell. Millennials are known for their love of technology at the same time that companies are abandoning landlines, so having a landline immediately marks you as a bit of a relic. Smartphones' dominance in the marketplace stems from their multi-functionality, which has made the need for listing both landline and mobile numbers an obsolete practice. Besides, do you really want to wait until you get home to find out that an employer called, and realize that you can't call them back until the next day?

4. You're still including your entry-level job from 30 years ago

OK, we get it — you've had a long and fruitful career. But trust us, employers aren't interested in reading about every job you've held, task you were assigned, or conference you ever attended. Instead, they prefer to see resumes with two pages that only contain the most relevant information. The more experienced you are, the more selective you need to be about what you tell prospective employers. Curate the information on your resume to match the job responsibilities and requirements as laid out in the job listing.

Sometimes it's hard to know what you should keep and what you should delete from your resume. That's where a TopResume expert resume writer comes in!

5. It's clear you learned to type on a typewriter

Repeat after us: I will not put two spaces after each period. If you do, you are immediately alerting recruiters to your age — and potentially opening yourself up to age discrimination. If you were taught to use two spaces after a period during your high school typing class, we know it can be tough to break the habit. However, this typing rule was created with typewriters' monospaced typesetting in mind to make it easier to see the beginning of new sentences. Thanks to the advent of computers and proportionally spaced fonts, this practice is completely obsolete. The modern style is to put one space after all end punctuation. As Jennifer Gonzalez, a former teacher and the creator of Cult of Pedagogy, points out, “Nothing says 'over 40' like two spaces after a period.”

6. Your resume includes an objective statement

Over the past decade, the objective resume statement has become increasingly obsolete. Why? Well, objective statements tend to be vague, utilize fluffy language instead of concrete evidence, and talk more about you and less about what you can bring to a prospective employer. So instead of making this mistake, modern-day job seekers use what is known as a professional summary to capture the recruiter's attention. The professional summary allows you to showcase your achievements, experience, and qualifications with your immediate career goals in mind.

7. You didn't include your LinkedIn profile

Are you living like it's 1999? These days, companies use social media — particularly LinkedIn — to post job opportunities, search for candidates, and vet potential hires. Putting your LinkedIn profile URL front and center on your resume with the rest of your contact information is one way to ensure that hiring managers have an easy time distinguishing you from all the other “John Smiths” out there.

Don't have a LinkedIn profile? It's time to make one. According to a recent Jobvite recruiter survey, LinkedIn remains the most-used channel for recruitment efforts, with 77 percent of talent acquisition professionals taking advantage. In this modern job market, you cannot afford to neglect this important job-search tool.


Communicating your background without awareness of what else you're conveying is a sure path to job-search frustration. If your resume's content and format have not budged in years, it may be time to update it for the modern job market. With a few of these fixes, you'll be able to unleash the power of your fresh new resume upon the workplace, where it's bound to catch more notice than before.

Is your resume giving away your age? Check with a  free, objective resume critique today!

Photo credit: SportSuburban/Flickr

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