How to Beat Tech Ageism with a Few Résumé Changes

Ageism exists; there’s no getting around that harsh fact. Even job ads on social media are biased against older tech pros. It sometimes feels dire, but you can still control that age-based bias with a few résumé tweaks.

Stop Bragging

You know what’s cooler than a two-page résumé? A one-page résumé.

Look, your long-tail job history is awesome. Your experience is valuable. Nobody is debating these things. But a hiring manager may not want to hear about it.

Instead of being thorough all the time, craft your résumé for the job you’re seeking. If it’s a senior-level engineering role, perhaps the longer history will prove attractive to a hiring manager. If the role is more ‘junior’ level, maybe your last two or three jobs is enough to make the list.

Pay attention to the job requirements. You may have 20 years experience, but the job asks for 5-7 years… so maybe just discuss your last decade on the ‘ol résumé. Overwhelming a hiring manager is a great way to have your résumé deleted.

Ageism Fellow Kids

Your Résumé Should Reflect Current Tech

Maybe that database architecture you worked on in 2011 really was the best there ever was. And hey, maybe it deserves to make a comeback. But nobody is going to bring it back, and you need to stop trying to make it a thing.

If you have experience with older frameworks, languages, or tech… drop them from your résumé. Focus more on the things you know that companies are using right now. More to the point, craft your résumé to hone in on tech listed in the job description.

Your skills matter most, and discussing that random-but-great thing you were enamored with all those years ago on your résumé will only highlight your age, not experience. Be contextual; the more you can show proficiency with tech in use today, the more valuable those years of mastering a lost art will seem.

Creed Bratton Ageism Tech Dice
Don’t make yourself seem old, but don’t go full Creed Bratton, either.

Prove Your Worth

It’s great that you were at your last job for six years, working on an Android app, but how can a hiring manager know what you’re really capable of?

You need some examples of what you can do. If possible, create and display projects that directly relate to the skills in the job listing you’re targeting. GitHub Gists are a great way to publish code snippets and light projects without maintaining a repo, which is perfect for this use-case.

Companies publishing apps will also want someone who is familiar with how the App Store and/or Google Play work, so publishing even the simplest app can be a good way to showcase your follow-through. Similarly, if the app can be open-source, hosting a repo on GitHub shows your willingness to collaborate and share info – two great soft skills for your résumé.

Bonus: Craft Your Cover Letter

Most companies want you to submit a cover letter. That’s a sensational way to tell a hiring manager what you want and what you can offer, in your own words.

You can distill your résumé to fit the job description, but you can’t hide from social media and LinkedIn. A cover letter is a great place to mention your expansive experience while alleviating concerns you may be overqualified. If you’ve got 15 years in the trenches, but really just want to simplify life and take a junior dev role, tell them! A good hiring manager will appreciate the honesty, and an experienced hand helping to guide a junior team may be just what the company is looking for.

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