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Should you put your age in your resume?

Posted on September 21, 2016 in

One of the things I often get asked is ‘Should I put my age in my resume?’ This question is relevant to job seekers both young and old. However the answer varies for each group.

In short, personal and demographic information have no place in a resume – your birth date, marital status, religion, and ethnic background should not have any relevance to your suitability for a given role. But even if you leave out those details, other information may provide an indication of your age. For example, the year you attained any qualifications or the length of your work history.

Mature applicants often seek to conceal their age to avoid being stereotyped as ‘past their use by date’.  A general rule of thumb for any resume is to exclude detailed information for any activities that occurred more than 10-12 years ago. This rule applies equally to your education and qualifications as well as to your work history. In the case of a mature job applicant who attained tertiary qualifications after leaving school, it is appropriate to include only the name of the qualification and the institution, not the year of graduation. To contradict the stereotype, it’s a good idea to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to learning and keeping your skills up to date by attending training courses or conferences, which you can list with the year. If you have a lengthy job history, focus on roles held in the previous 10 years. Condense prior work experience into a brief summary entitled ‘Roles held prior to 2005’ or similar.

On the other side of the coin, if you are at the start of your career you may be worried that you lack relevant experience and that being a fresh graduate means you’re ‘green’.  Including the year of completion for any recent qualifications lets potential employers know that you’ve studied the latest information in the field. When it comes to work experience, aim to demonstrate what transferable skills you’ve acquired rather than the specific roles, unless they are directly relevant to the job you are applying for. Transferable skills include team work, communication and customer service – skills that are relevant to almost any role.

In all instances your resume should focus on impressing potential employers with your skills and experience rather than your age.