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Good question, Stephanie. Im my long career, I have reviewed literally thousands of resumes while hiring over a hundred people in engineering or professions related to water utilities. I don't think that there was one resume that I was not able to deduce a person's age. A resume that doesn't end up in the trash can has to list career experience and length of time at each job. Reviewers look for this to detect signs of "job hopping" as well as the value of the experience to the previous employer. I also wanted to see if the applicants experience reflected professional growth and increased responsibility over their career. Older applicants also may have worked for consulting firms that have been subsumed years ago by larger companies. I was also interested in the length of time an engineer has been licensed, which if not shown on the resume is easy to find as it is public information. I did this not to necessarily discern an applicant's age, but the depth of their experience.My opinion is that a resume that tries to hide age by manipulating or leaving out such information raises a red flag, not an age flag in my case, but a flag nonetheless, as in "what career problems is the applicant trying to hide"? Many employers are looking for maturity in mid or high level jobs.My advice is not to mention age in a resume, but to fully describe their experience and stress the maturity and leadership growth during their career that will be of value the employer. This won't stop a potential employer from discriminating due to age if that is their nefarious goal, but like you mentioned, who wants to work for such an employer?
Does experience matter? Does expertise matter? Do our young engineers deserve mentoring and guidance? If one asks these and similar questions to engineering leaders who handle decisions, they would say, 'Of course, they do.' If one asks a follow up question, 'Why then different irregularities and discriminatory practices exist?' They would probably say, 'It's all about market and supply-and-demand. We can't do anything about it. Our clients do not care; they just care about liability insurance.'
Let us ask the same questions to a lawyer/judge, a politician, or a journalist. If one says, 'Your honor, you are too old to be a judge.' The judge will immediately use his or her gable to say, 'Send this ignorant to the school. This guy does not understand what ruling class means.'
Ah, there lies the answer. We engineers are not ruling class (although some of our leaders tend to think so). We are just working class (to be of some comfort, let us say upper working class), as our politician and journalist friends like to see a society in distinctive classes. And we behave as such.
Engineers like to think themselves as an innovative profession. Can't they find some innovative ways to utilize valued experience? What about our leadership organizations and licensing authorities? Don't they have a role? 21st century needs 21st century answers. Old norms and practices have outlived their purpose. Perhaps, it's time to learn from lawyers/judges, politicians, and journalists to know how they handle it – how they value skills and intellectual ripening (that accrue with experience) for common societal benefit.
This and other postings and discussions on resume and jobs are fascinatingly interesting.