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The Age Factor and Your CV

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 8 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Your age can definitely be a factor in how you organise and format your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV). Many interviewers or potential clients will label you "too young" or "too old" to perform a job, even if you have the expertise to do so.

There are however plenty of different ways to maintain the integrity of your CV without blatantly advertising how long you've been in the workplace. We have listed some of the major ones below:

Eliminate Dates from Your CV
This strategy involves a simple technique of removing all references to dates. Therefore, under your education history, you'll only be listing the schools you attended and the credentials you received; but you'll include nothing to indicate when you studied there.

Similarly, in the employment section of your CV, remove all dates but leave the names of your past employers (if this is your first job, it's fine to list part-time positions you've held or to leave out an employment section altogether, though that could be a red flag to interviewers that you probably have little experience.)

By employing this tactic, your CV will highlight your applicability rather than your age. Even if the readers of your document are sceptical as to how old you are, they won't be able to pinpoint a number without meeting you first. This increases the chances that you'll be called for an interview or meeting.

Don't List All Your Jobs
If you've worked for over 20 years, chances are that you've held many different positions. But if you want to decrease the chances of your age factoring into the relevancy of your CV, choose only three or four of your jobs to list in your employment section. As a consequence, the person scanning your CV won't be able to tell exactly how old you are.

(As a quick aside, this technique isn't recommended for younger CV writers with very little practical experience.)

Stay Current In Your Writing Style
Nothing says, "I'm antiquated" or "I'm out of my league" like jargon that's dated or inappropriate. When you're putting your CV together, eliminate all extraneous language and stick to a very business tone. For instance, in today's gender-neutral marketplace, a phrase like "sales professional" has replaced "salesman"; similarly, the word "boss" has a negative connotation, whereas "manager" or "supervisor" has a more 21st century feel.

If you're just out of school, beware of slang terms. They could cost you the opportunity to show an interviewer what you're made of. If you need assistance in writing your CV, ask someone from your university/school or college or a trusted friend or family member to assist you in preparing the most professional document possible.

List Only a Few Accomplishments
In your summary of qualifications section, list only a few of the many amazing career accomplishments you've had. Though you're probably tempted to recite each achievement, it will be an indicator of your age to do so. (Imagine a listing of 25 or more awards you've won and on-the-job successes you've had - the person reading your CV would know right away that it would be hard to accomplish all you've stated unless you've been in the workforce for a number of years.)

Choose your finest working moments to address in your CV, and you'll have a much greater chance of getting your foot in the door.

(Again, this might not be applicable to the younger CV author.)

Highlight Your Volunteer Activities
Finally, we have an age-related CV tactic specifically for the younger audience!

If your CV seems a bit on the "light" side, there's nothing wrong with adding a tiny bit of "padding" in the form of a volunteer activities section. There, you can address your major high points (such as when you helped raise over 200,000 pounds to help fight muscular dystrophy) and show you're a self-starting go-getter. If your achievements are impressive, you just might win yourself an interview… and maybe even a job offer.

In the end, it's critical that you don't allow your age to stop you from getting an interview or prospect meeting. By presenting a CV that focuses on your knowledge and experience, you can overcome any age factors that might otherwise be in play.

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