Career Advice

Resume and Cover Letter Tips for Older Job Seekers

We all get there sooner or later, some more begrudgingly than others. As 40 rolls around and then disappears, some things get easier, while other things, like scoring a job, can become increasingly challenging. While age discrimination in the workplace is technically illegal, that doesn’t mean that it’s nonexistent.

Fortunately, there are ways you can combat the negative assumptions that come along with increased age (that you’re overqualified, want too much money, or are out of touch with new technology, for instance) as you search for a job. Follow the tips below to increase the odds you land the job of your dreams – despite your age!


Resume Tips for Older Workers

Let’s start by discussing your resume and the steps you can take to showcase yourself in the best possible light.


1. Tailor Your Resume to the Job

This piece of advice applies to everyone no matter their age. Always take the time to tailor your resume to the job you’re interested in. Recruiters and HR folks will quickly discard any resumes that appear generic or not applicable to the role they’re looking to fill. Include keywords from the job description and emphasize the skills and experience that show you’re the ideal choice.


2. Downplay the Length of Your Career

While it’s great to be experienced, try to avoid the appearance of being overqualified. Leave jobs that are irrelevant or older than 15 years off your resume entirely. Also, consider using a combination resume format instead of chronological so you can highlight notable skills with only a brief listing of your employment history (instead of submitting a multi-page resume that includes an exhaustive accounting of all your past jobs).


3. Call Attention to Your Technology Skills

One common misperception is that older workers don’t know how to use the latest computer programs and methodologies. Whenever possible, include these technologies on your resume so employers can see that you stay abreast of new industry trends, tools, and software.


4. Use Current Industry Terminology

If the terminology in your field has changed over the years, make sure to use the newer jargon throughout your resume. If you’re unsure, have someone who is younger proofread your resume before you send it anywhere. Language is powerful – use it to your benefit.


5. Include Your Social Media Accounts

Most recruiters and HR folks take a look at a candidate’s social media accounts before moving forward with them in the hiring process. Establish a social media presence that conveys adaptability, tech savviness, and engagement, and then include these accounts alongside your contact information at the top of your resume.


6. Leave Off Years on Educational Degrees

A well-known and easy way to make your age less noticeable on your resume is to simply leave the years off when you list your educational degrees. Then the employer will have to do some real digging to determine how old you are rather than it being right there in black and white.


Cover Letter Tips for Older Folks

While the resume is arguably the most important document an employer will see when you apply for a job, the cover letter matters too! It provides color and additional detail. See below for some ways you can adjust your cover letter to help camouflage your age.


1. Customize Your Cover Letter

A cover letter should be tailored to the target job and company just like a resume. But rather than focusing on your ample years of experience, discuss the many ways you can fill the needs of the company in this role instead. Concentrate on showing how qualified you are.


2. Don’t Mention Total Years of Experience

One simple way to downplay your age is to leave out the actual number of years you’ve been in the workforce. For example, don’t write, “I have over 25 years of experience…”. In place of that, spend your time explaining which skills and qualities you bring to the table.


3. Mention Your Willingness to Learn New Skills

Older workers are often stereotyped as being outdated and incapable of learning and accepting new technologies and skills. Combat this assumption by talking about how adaptable you are and open to learning new things. Give examples to support these assertions.


4. Show How You’ll Satisfy the Company’s Needs

Perhaps most importantly, in your cover letter emphasize exactly how you plan to meet the needs of the company. Ultimately, this is what the hiring manager cares about anyway! Your age really shouldn’t matter – what should matter is whether you can do the job or not.


So there you have it – multiple ways in which you can tackle age discrimination as you apply for jobs. Remember that you have all the time in the world to create a resume and cover letter that best represents you. If you don’t make the focus all about your age, why will someone else? Instead, convey how youthful you are in your heart, actions, and work life, and watch as employers reciprocate with interviews and job offers!