How to avoid age discrimination with your CV

CVGuru Emma Alkirwi gives some advice on what to include – and exclude – from your CV if you are job seeking and don’t want to encounter age discrimination.

Image of a cv on a tablet indicating how to avoid age discrimination


How can you avoid age discrimination on your CV?

It is generally unlawful to discriminate against anyone because of their age when they are applying for work in the UK. Proving age discrimination is harder, though, and many fear that the jobs crisis we are witnessing will increase bias against older workers who often struggle more to get into work when they have lost their jobs. Anti-ageist campaigners also say that, due to the general bias against older people – something Covid-19 has highlighted, many older people internalise ageist attitudes with regard to work.

There is no requirement to ask someone’s age at the application stage as this serves no purpose in the recruitment process unless the employer can make a clear business case for it.

Many applicants believe they are not receiving interview invitations or being successful in obtaining a job because of their age. Here we look at ways you can avoid age discrimination on your CV.

1. Do not include your personal details

Historically date of birth was a requirement, but it no longer is now so you can leave it out without feeling you are being dishonest. There is also no need to include marital status, sex or religion. A CV is about your ability to do the job.

2. Career summary

You do not need to detail every job you have ever done. Going back around 15 years is perfectly acceptable and your most recent jobs are probably more relevant to what you are applying for anyway. In addition to this you do not want your CV to be too long.

3. Education

There is no requirement at all to include dates of your qualifications so listing the degree, subjects or training is completely acceptable. You can put GCSE equivalent if you feel putting O Levels or CSEs might reveal your age. Employers will be more interested in your work experience than your education in any event.

4. Tailor your CV

The purpose of the CV is to assess whether you have the skills and expertise to effectively fulfil the job so ensure you tailor your CV to each job you apply for. This can be done in the professional profile and the key skills section where you can align these sections to what the job is looking for. This also assists with Applicant Tracking Systems.

5. Phrases to avoid

There are certain phrases employers should avoid when advertising for a role and these are the same when writing your CV. Both sides should avoid phrases such as ‘over a certain number of years’ experience in your field’ or ‘mature’.

A CV is for putting the most relevant information for the role you are applying for so avoid information that is not relevant or appropriate.

Further reading:

Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK

Comments [8]

  • Mike says:

    I regard the “positive discrimination” (AKA diversity) forms as a way to get around discrimination laws. For example, a Christian-religious based company will illegally check the forms to ensure other religions will not reach the interview process. This also applies to other minorities, age, gender, nationality, etc.

    Wouldn’t it be be more ethical to complete these discriminatory form AFTER candidates get the job?

    If a candidate isn’t as qualified for the position because of their (enter minority here) background, then is it really better to give them the position just to meet your company stats? Wouldn’t it be better to address the source (e.g. provide better education for everyone rather than just those who can afford it)?
    Sorry about the rant, but these “diversity” forms really frustrate me.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      One of the aims is to see who is applying and whether they are reaching a representative sample of people with their job adverts eg where they place them, wording, etc.

  • I Bowes says:

    Some employers require proof of identity at the interview stage. The request is for photographic evidence such as your passport or driver’s license. Your date of birth is immediately evident.

  • Steve says:

    There is one Major Flaw to all this, you put your C.V forward and spend considerable time & effort writing a Cover Letter detailing your suitability etc.
    You get the interview, walk through the door and your not 26! A complete waste of time and effort!
    The answer is honesty, let employers indicate the age range they want, for they are going to choose their TYPE regardless, and then the one’s that want maturity and experience will say so, thereby giving a REAL opportunity of employment based on a TRUE level playing field not the Masquerade that prevails at present!

  • Norman Miller says:

    This is good advice for a CV. However, it ignores the many jobs that require applicants to fill in an application form online, in which date of birth is a mandatory field. So if you are an older applicant, would you advise putting in a different DOB to your real one – and then only give the company your real one if you get the job?!

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, I have asked Emma to reply.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Emma says: What you typically find is that employers who have an application form collect the data for the purposes of ensuring application of diversity policies, including age-related discrimination. This data is usually held confidentially and anonymously and should not be used by an employer. Normally in-house recruiters/HR functions will not even see this data if it is collected electronically. It allows companies to review their typical hiring track record and mix of ages and ethnic backgrounds etc so I would not expect this to be given to hiring managers as part of the process as that would be potentially in breach of legislation.

    • Laura Hunter says:

      Absolutely correct. Plus, many recruitment companies are required by their clients to have portals for prospective candidates to complete. DOB is always a requisite, I don’t see how one can avoid this, unless the law is eventually changed in that DOB is no longer required. As this information can be used to discriminate against older job seekers.

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