En Route: A Career Blog

Dealing with Age Discrimination and Employment Gaps

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , ,
POSTED: August 25, 2009 at 8:26 am

You’ve heard the saying, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” Well maybe so, but employers don’t necessarily think that way when scanning resumes. Unfortunately, many of them shy away from hiring seasoned people because these pros are perceived as inflexible, over-trained, and worst of all, too expensive.

Likewise, what if you have gaps between jobs? It’s not that you decided to drop out for a while to find your inner self or lost a job and couldn’t get hired. Perhaps you had a baby and took some time off. Maybe you suffered an injury or had to take care of an aging parent. Whatever the situation, many people have employment gaps for very legitimate reasons. A resume doesn’t show why the gaps are there and employers often don’t take the time to find out. How do you get past age discrimination or explain why you didn’t work for a few years?

No One Has a Perfect Background

Your resume can overcome either obstacle in subtle ways that establish your capabilities. For instance, to overcome age discrimination, consider limiting your experience to 15 years for a managerial job, ten years for a technical job, and five years for a high-tech job. Leave other experiences off your resume or list it without dates. If you have gaps in your employment history, consider highlighting what you did during your time off. Perhaps some volunteering, part-time consulting, or freelance work encompassed the skills or experience the company is looking for.

Resume Design Can Help Hide Gaps

You could also use a functional resume rather than a chronological resume. When you write a functional resume, you list your skills as they apply to a specific job. With this format, your resume explains what you can do, what you have learned, and what precise abilities you bring to a new job. Although not many job applicants use this format, it is often far more effective than the chronological resume in answering the prospective employer’s most important question: “What skills do you have and how can they help me in my company?” This format is especially effective for job hoppers, career changers, people just entering the job market who have little work experience, and applicants who have been out of the job market for an extended length of time.

Your goal is to only use information that is directly relevant to the job you are seeking. This is honest as well as fair to your prospective employer. After all, if you’re a 50-year-old applying for a job in accounting, why would your prospective employer care that you worked as a counselor for five-year-olds at Camp Gichi-Goomi when you were 16 years old? That’s exaggerating the concept, but you get the point.

A word of advice: No matter how you deal with employment gaps and age discrimination, always tell the truth. Always.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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