What is your resume saying? How to avoid being discriminated against.


Your resume is like a billboard for your experience. It has to be eye-catching, concise, and just exciting enough to get someone to read it while they’re doing 75 down the highway (or sifting through a virtual stack of resumes). Your resume should actually give the recruiter some context for who you are as a person, but most importantly it should only show the cards you want to show. Most resume templates recommend providing discriminatory information that will only hurt you as a candidate. What is your resume saying about you without you even knowing it? Let’s talk about being smart with the information you provide recruiters.

 

Let's set the scene. If there’s a candidate’s resume sitting in front of a recruiter, and they see he was in a corporate level position in 1985, graduated college in 1980, and has a photo of himself in a sick Miami Vice suit posted up at the top, that recruiter can pretty effortlessly guess he’s about 64 years old in 2022. Now, he may be the best candidate for the job, but if that recruiter has any bias against folks over the age of 20, 40, or even 50, there’s a good chance this candidate won’t get a call from that recruiter. The recruiter can also assume this person will 1.) retire in a few years (so why hire him anyway?), 2.) will expect a higher salary for his experience than the company can afford, 3.) Will expect and use a lofty benefits plan, increasing their average age and driving company premiums up, 4.) will be more prone to slipping and falling and could drive worker’s compensation premiums up if

he falls, 5.) must not be great at decision making if he chose that suit for his headshot, and the list goes on and on. None of those assumptions may be true, and most of them are purely discriminatory, but don’t give the recruiter the fuel to unconsciously make up a narrative about you! Let your experience speak for itself, get into the interview, and give yourself a fighting chance of proving just how valuable you are! Here are the details I recommend removing from your resume:

  1. Any experience older than ten years. You can filter those skills and details into other aspects of your resume so you’re still getting “credit” for those experiences without putting the years on display.

  2. Graduation dates, especially for a Bachelor’s degree. This is situation-specific, and there are times when I choose to include these dates. But, a general rule of thumb is to remove it! They don’t need to know when you graduated, they need to know if you have the degree.

  3. A headshot or photo of yourself. Resumes with a photo are rejected 88% of the time, and it’s only giving your interviewer the opportunity to discriminate against you for your presenting gender, any visible religious items, style, skin color, age, or even if they just don’t like the picture. Just say no to photos on resumes. If you have a cool headshot, leverage it on Linkedin!

  4. Locations of your employers. This is a special one for my military spouses and folks who have moved around a lot. No employer needs to know the location of your past employers, and if they do need to know, they will ask. Do yourself a favor and avoid the “Why have you moved so much?” question.

  5. Native Languages. If you’re multi-lingual, listing your native language as such can give your recruiter more information about your nationality than is necessary. Instead of listing your languages as “Mandarin (native language), fluent in English,” say “Bi-lingual, English and Mandarin.”

  6. BONUS TIP: Check your email address! Does your email address have your birth year in it that could give recruiters information on when you were born? Are you still using AOL or another out-of-date email service that would imply you’ve had that email address since the invention of home computers? If so, update them! Create a gmail account (it’s easy and free) that is a simple combination of your initials, name, etc., and a non-descript number (don’t use 69 either…we know).

Is your resume breaking any of these rules? We can fix it for you! Check out our Brand New Resume service for a completely overhauled resume created by recruiters and HR pros.

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