Ageism is alive and well in the time of COVID-19. Many employers have had to make the difficult decision to run super lean during this economic downturn, and both old and young job seekers are feeling the pinch.

The most common reason for reductions-in-force (RIFs or layoffs) is generally financial. And the truth of the matter is that an employer’s senior level employees cost more – both in terms of salary as well as benefits. Older employees who have been laid off may have a tough time replacing their salaries at new jobs as budgets shrink and companies opt to fill senior roles with less experienced and less costly workers.

10 ways to age-proof your resume

In Jobscan’s recent Hiring Professionals Survey, recruiters and hiring managers cited salary expectations as a reason they may not hire older workers, in addition to other reasons such as outdated skillsets, inflexibility, and lack of drive. You can address these concerns, whether founded or not, directly on your resume. Here are 10 ways to do just that.

1. Leave off your graduation date

You have probably heard it before, but it bears repeating: leave your graduation year OFF of your resume. (High School, Associate’s, university – all of them.) Make sure you are focusing on your current skills. Including a year is an invitation for a ready-to-make generational assumptions about you.

2. Keep your reverse-chronological resume format

Never opt for a functional version. Recruiters and hiring managers need context around when and how you developed your skills; a functional format is just a bunch of words with no structure and relatable impact. There are more than one federal compliance requirements that employers must prove they are hiring candidates that fit their job description – and a functional resume does not offer that insight.

3. Include relevant freelance roles

If you have any sort of consulting or side hustle that makes you even the smallest amount of money – move that to your “current” work experience as long as it is somewhat relevant to where you want to position yourself professionally. This serves two functions: it shows an entrepreneurial streak, and shows that you are still “striving” and keeping your foot in the proverbial pool.

4. Update your skills

Make sure you are only using the most up-to-date skills. This includes software, processes, tools, and certifications. Your skills should primarily be functional and quantifiable. You can demonstrate most “soft skills” in your phone screens and interviews.

5. Leave off dated technologies and softwares

Lose any mention of a software package that is more than 2-3 years old. Skip mentioning versions. It ages you quickly.

6. Only highlight current skills

Make sure you are only including relevant functional skills that are current. Drop something you did in 2012, even if you think it is one of the highlights of your career. Hint: if a highlight of your career is 8+ years old, recruiters and hiring managers may think you need to challenge yourself more.

7. Omit your earliest work experience

Focus on the last 5-7 years, and don’t go further back than 7-10 total. If you have been at the same company for over 15 years, only go back to the last 10, and you can include a small, unassuming note at the end of your last entry saying, “additional experience available.”

8. Sync up your resume and LinkedIn Profile

Make sure your LinkedIn profile—companies, titles, and dates—match your resume! Hiring managers and recruiters look at your LinkedIn profile, and if the two are disparate, they may assume you are lying on one of them.

9. Update your email address

Your best bet? A custom email address, like There is evidence that a Gmail account may not be the best for job seeking (and the same goes for Hotmail and Yahoo) due to the fact that these free domains are extensively caught in spam filters. It is less of an issue for an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), but why tempt fate?

10. Tailor, tailor, tailor

Simplify your resume as much as you can. Seasoned professionals have a tendency to try and pile on everything they have done to impress a potential employer. Keep a master document (think of it as a “brain dump”) with all your experiences; pick and choose the most salient examples for any job you are applying for. This is what is usually referred to as “tailoring your resume.” You will never be all things to all employers. Showcase your expertise for the job at hand and show that you are the singular best fit for the role.

Want to find out if your resume is ATS-friendly and tailored to the job? Paste your resume and job description below to see your custom match score and tips for taking your resume to the next level.


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Kristen Fife

Kristen is a Senior Recruiter in the Seattle area, as well as a writer and guest speaker.

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