How to Combat Ageism in Your Job Search, Starting with Your CEO Resume

Are you a mature executive job seeker who has received multiple rejections based only on your executive resume? Are you concerned that recruiters only take a quick glance at your CEO resume and immediately decide you are too old?

Unfortunately, recruiters are subject to unconscious bias in their screening processes. Things like a lengthy (20+-year) employment history, a high school graduation date, or archaic resume content can insinuate a more senior applicant. While age is not something that should be a factor in any hiring decision, there are things you can do to arrange your resume in a way that doesn’t allow recruiters to guess your age.

The good news is that Ageism in the C-suite seems to be diminishing in the market overall. Recruiters and employers are seeking expertise that only leader/mentors with seasoned expertise and sound emotional intelligence can provide. Furthermore, C-suite leaders are naturally older and have less negative experiences with ageism overall.*

  • Make sure your CEO resume looks new and intentional. Remove things like objective statements and “references available upon request,” and use the most recent file types when submitting electronically. A professionally designed executive resume can go a long way in portraying a modern first impression.
  • Respect your readers’ time. A busy recruiter may be put off by a CEO resume that is too long. Try to keep it to two pages if at all possible and focus only on the essential details. That being said, the value should always dictate the length of your document. If there is something worth saying, say it!
  • Write for your reader, not for you. Your reader does not need to know your life story, and an executive resume is not the place to tell that story. Put yourself in their shoes and only include information that is directly relevant to the role.
  • Focus on recent experience and accomplishments. Your most recent experience will hold the most weight in the eyes of your recruiter. If you are identifying specific tools or programs you have used throughout your career, narrow in on ones that are still in use today.
  • Summarize your impressive career. As a mature candidate, you could easily have 30+ years of extraordinary accomplishments under your belt. However, in a CEO resume, 20 years of employment history is generally sufficient to demonstrate role progression, oversight variety, and current skills and abilities. It might be best to leave dates for education, courses, etc., off entirely if they were more than 20 years ago.

The bottom line is that there is no “one size fits all” formula for building a resume. The more individualized your documents can be, the better. Executive resume writing is an art and requires a specific skill set. If you’re struggling to start conversations during your job search, you may want to engage an executive resume-writing firm with the expertise and qualifications to ensure your success in your job search. To find out how we can help you, book a complimentary and confidential call with us here.

Korn Ferry, “Age and tenure in the C-Suite”

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.