Myth: age no longer matters when it comes to applying for jobs. Like it or not, preconceptions and prejudices surrounding older or, just as easily, younger workers are still all too common in today’s increasingly competitive job market.

Here are some of the most common, and avoidable, CV giveaways of younger and older job seekers.

Common mistakes of younger job seekers:

1. Sloppy presentation
Younger job seekers are more likely to succumb to basic CV ‘no-no’s, such as spelling and grammar mistakes and uneven layout. This is the first impression employers have of you, so make sure it counts.

2. A funky email address or both indicate not only a younger candidate, but a less serious one. Be careful about the numbers you use in your email address as well which could either imply your age or year of birth, and choose a sensible, grown up address.

3. Failure to tailor
Employers are generally not interested in work experience from your early teens nor your GCSE results, and inclusion of these usually indicates a lack of experience. The rest of the CV needs to meet the needs of the employer and position too. Junior jobseekers tend to forget to make their CV specific, use key words and give evidence of the points listed on the job description.

4. Not including a summary statement
It may seem old-fashioned, but most employers and HR managers expect an opening paragraph, summarising your experience and skills. Keep it short, punchy and to the point.

Common mistakes of older job seekers:

1. Outdated layout/font
Microsoft Office has moved on since its launch in 1990. So have CVs. There is no need to stick to a rigid structure or font, nor any harm in adding an element of ‘flair’ to your presentation to help it stand out from the crowd. Check out some templates online and update your structure, format and font.

2. Including carbon-datable details
Using your home address rather than your email address and home number as opposed to your mobile number as your primary contact details are a tell-tale sign of advancing years. Equally having an email account from aol, Hotmail or your cable provider looks a bit wrinkly too.

3. Going back too far into your professional history
Keep it fresh by only listing relevant positions. When referring to years of experience use terms such as ’10+ years’ experience..’ rather than ’25 years’ experience’ to avoid assumptions about your age. But it’s generally best not to refer to experience much beyond ten years ago. The interview will give you a chance to refer to less recent history.

4. Plugging obvious technical skills
There are very few people under 50 who can’t use Internet Explorer or Excel. Listing generic skills such as these will only draw attention to the ones you don’t have. Limit your ‘skills’ section to things that add value, like using InDesign or writing code, or don’t include one at all. Certainly don’t include your prowess with WordPerfect or Lotus123 – nobody uses them anymore.

A few points for both teams:
• Avoid age-defining clichés such as ‘seasoned professional’, ‘young and eager’, ‘mature’ or ‘youthful’
• Remove the dates against your education, but list the most recent first
• Never write ‘references available upon request’ whoever you are!

While deliberately removing all evidence of your age from your CV may seem dishonest, you are really just playing employers and recruiters at their own game. If you think you’re up to the job, then a few miles on the clock, or lack thereof, shouldn’t stand in your way.

Reference: Abintegro News – Financial Highway; Wet Feet; Forbes

18 May 2016