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A Surprisingly Large Percentage of Hiring Managers Don't Want to Hire Gen Z — or Older Workers At one point, "nobody wanted to hire" millennials, "and now they're the age group that's biased against everybody else," said the chief career advisor at Resume Builder.

By Tim Paradis

Key Takeaways

  • About one-third of hiring managers in a survey admitted bias against Gen Zers or older candidates.
  • Forty-two percent of managers consider job seekers' ages when reviewing résumés, per Resume Builder.
  • Some career advisors suggest removing the year you graduated from a résumé and LinkedIn profile.
Maria Korneeva/Getty Images via Business Insider

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

If you're looking for a job and you're a Gen Zer or an older worker, you might be out of luck — at least with some hiring managers.

That's because, according to a survey from Resume Builder, 36% of hiring managers said they were biased against Gen Z candidates. And 34% admitted they had it in for older candidates.

Oof. Ageism isn't new, of course, though the survey findings are a reminder that even in a strong job market, it can still be tough to land a new gig. Having people discount your abilities because of how young or old you are doesn't help.

"You need to be aware of pitfalls like age bias," Stacie Haller, chief career advisor at Resume Builder, told Business Insider. "You have to know the landscape you're in."

Resume Builder surveyed 1,000 hiring managers in March and found that 42% consider the age of job seekers when going over résumés. To determine a candidate's age, hiring managers tally years of experience, look for the year someone graduated, and even look for a photo, according to the survey.

Delete the year you graduated.

Some candidates might choose not to put the year they graduated on their CV, thanks to worries about recruiters doing the math. In the survey, six in 10 hiring managers said job seekers should "always" include the year they graduated, but about four in 10 said candidates sometimes shouldn't or should never include the year.

Some TikTokers who focus on career advice encourage people to delete their graduation year so that young candidates avoid getting dinged for not having enough experience and older workers don't get dumped for having too much.

That's something Haller endorses. "It matters that you got the degree. Does it matter if you got it last year or 20 years ago? It shouldn't," she said.

Haller added that recruiters determined to weed out groups they don't like can often still find a way, even when job applicants strip their résumé and LinkedIn profile of indicators like graduation dates. "If you're somebody who really is biased against folks, those people go to Facebook to check you out," she said.

Of course, there are federal laws designed to protect workers over 40 from age discrimination; some states also have provisions meant to shield younger members of the workforce, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency. But proving bias based on age can be difficult, as BI has previously reported.

The Goldilocks generation.

So why are some hiring managers not down with younger or older workers? One reason could be because those looking to bring on workers are often of a different generation, Haller said. More than six in 10 survey respondents were between 25 and 44 years old. It's an indication, she said, that these managers — perhaps in their first role leading others — "seem to be biased against everybody younger than them and older than them," Haller said.

Among the hiring managers who admitted to bias against Gen Z job seekers, more than three-quarters cited younger workers' lack of experience. About six in 10 managers pointed to what they saw as a tendency among Gen Zers to job hop. And a similar proportion of respondents pointed to an unprofessional attitude among members of the youngest slice of the workforce.

Among older workers, the indictments were likewise nothing new. Three-quarters of respondents were concerned an older worker might soon retire. Nearly two-thirds were worried older candidates would experience health problems, and almost half of all hiring managers identified worries that older workers didn't have sufficient experience with technology.

Showing up to an interview and looking too old can also be a problem for job applicants. In the survey, four in 10 hiring managers said if a candidate has an "elderly" appearance, they would be less inclined to consider the applicant. And 36% of hiring managers said candidates over age 60 should take steps to look younger in interviews.

That's advice that Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran, a septuagenarian, has given, according to BI's prior reporting.

Some hiring managers surveyed also had advice for those with a youthful visage: Look older. A fresh-faced glow was a turnoff for 19% of hiring managers. More than one-third of hiring managers recommended that candidates aged 18 to 27 "try to appear older during interviews," according to the survey.

Haller said while bias works against a range of job seekers, Gen Z has a specific challenge because many young people were sidelined early in their careers by the pandemic and were ill-prepared to enter the workplace. Some started their jobs remotely, making it harder to build skills and nail basics like how to dress for the office.

Yet, she added, one generation dumping on another is nothing new.

"Every generation gets talked about. The millennials, at one point, were entitled. Nobody wanted to hire them," she said. "And now they're the age group that's biased against everybody else."

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