Should You Be Worried About Age Discrimination?

Almost every client I work with who’s above the age of 40 asks the same question at some point: Do I need to make myself look younger on my resume? The fear that they are being skipped over for younger candidates is clearly a widespread concern among today’s job seekers.

While I certainly encourage those with 30 or more years of work experience to only include what’s most relevant on their resumes, this article in the Wall Street Journal last week caused me to wonder whether age discrimination is really as rampant as people fear. One passage in particular jumped out at me:

Meanwhile, the share of people age 25-34 living with their parents jumped to 13.4% in 2010 from 12.7% in 2008 … The poverty rate for adults age 25-34 living with their parents was 8.5%, but in that case they are considered part of a household. If their status was determined solely by their own income, 43% were below the poverty threshold for a single person.

This is data from the U.S. Census Bureau—generally a fairly credible source—and it states that almost 43% of our young workers are living below the poverty line. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that those aged 25-34 suffered the highest unemployment rate of any age group in August 2010—9.8%. Those 55 and over actually had the lowest rate of unemployment at 7.3%.

I’m not suggesting that age discrimination doesn’t exist. If coloring your hair and buying a trendier interview suit will help you feel more confident during your job search, then go for it. However, the reality is that younger workers are facing a job market that’s just as tough as it is for older workers—and in many cases the younger ones have an even harder time getting hired because of their lack of experience. With more than 13% of the young worker population still living at home with their parents, it’s clear that even many with jobs are not making enough to live independently.

These statistics show that the job market has been tough on everyone. To increase your odds for an interview and an offer make sure your resume is completely customized and tailored to each position you apply to.