Age discrimination on the rise in tough times: How to prevent it

While illegal and unethical, age discrimination exists in today’s job market. In fact, surveys say that age discrimination rises when times are tough. Because the largest percentage of its clients is preparing to retire from the military, is particularly sensitive to the plight of a more seasoned military job seeker. You can’t change cultural biases in society, but with the right information and a strategy, you can lessen their impact on your job search.

Your resume, more often than not, is going to make (or break) your first impression, so we’ll begin with some tactics for military resumes. The temptation for most retiring military job seekers is to list everything they have done in the last 20 years. But hiring managers really only want to see the freshest 10 years of experience. Remove older experience from your resume because it dates you and is likely to be considered irrelevant anyway. Also remove older dates on degrees, etc. and drop phrases such as “retired military officer” and “over 20 years of experience”.

Retired military leaders are renowned for wearing many hats throughout their careers. But when it comes to the job search, I suggest wearing just one. At, we believe that military resumes should say “I have 20 years of experience” vs. one year of experience times 20. However, only the master copy of a resume should be considered “multipurpose”. A resume should be finely tuned for each position applied for. Represent only experience that lends itself well the job requirements, emphasize your track record of performance in the targeted area, and merely mention or summarize the rest. This will give resume filters less of an opportunity to toss your resume out. CEOs care about return on investment, cost savings, how you are going to help them increase revenue, not necessarily how you are going to train people in your department.

Finally, think like a salesperson, even if you are not. Prepare to deal with objections prior to encountering them. Potential obstacles are age, health issues, and unusually high salary requirements. Don’t pull a suit out of your closet from the 80s. Update your business attire. If asked in an interview how your weekend went, mention the fact that you enjoyed mountain biking with some friends. When asked about salary requirements, make it clear that you would accept an offer within the highest range of what they would offer a more junior employee with the understanding that it will be reevaluated in six months because you are confident in your ability bring more to the table than the company thought possible.

With the proper know-how, an extraordinary military career, and the mindset that age is an asset, anyone can conquer the job market.

The best defense against ageism is information. For information about the Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA), check out the Age Discrimination Fact Sheet on AARP’s website. For more information on professional military resume writing services, visit