I’m Still 29… How Old Are You?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I am an “older” professional that has been displaced and have found myself unexpectedly in the job market.  I am worried that my age is going to hinder my ability to get a job.  What do I do if they ask me how old I am?

Before I answer this question, let me just start with a disclaimer that I am not an attorney or am I an expert on employment law.   Now that I have that out of the way we can get back to the question.  First of all, it is illegal for an employer or potential employer to discriminate against
someone due to age.  A “Best Practice” for industries is to avoid any questions that could be construed as trying to determine the age of the candidate.  This can include questions such as “What year did you graduate?” or “When did you go to college?”  The job interview should be
focused on previous experience, job skills and future goals.

Best practices aside, I have heard stories from others in the job market that they have been asked during the course of an interview how old they are, so I’m not going to say that it’s never going to happen.  What I can tell you is that age discrimination can be extremely hard to prove and the burden of proof would fall on you to prove that discrimination existed.  What you will need to decide if asked a question that is perceived as trying to determine your age is: what is the intent the question is being asked with?  Are they trying to purposely use your age to
discriminate?  And if they are, are they a company that you would want to work for?  But you’re not asking how to determine if age discrimination occurred or how to prove age discrimination so I’ll leave that one for the labor lawyers.

Back to what you should do if you’re asked how old you are.  It’s really quite simple.  If someone asked me how old I was during an interview, I would reply, with a smile on my face: “I’m still 29, how old are you?”

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your
questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady through twitter:  resumesurvisldy her LinkedIn group: Resume Survis Lady and on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeannette Paladino
    May 25, 2011 @ 20:20:31

    Billye — I love your answer – 29! If I said that I think the recruiter would fall over. We all know that employers get around the age issue by asking in their employment applications the year you graduated from college. Usually a dead give-away. What’s important is that no matter what your age you should never let it inhibit your job search. If you are embarrassed about your age then it will show. Just look in the mirror and tell yourself, “They would be darn lucky to have me.” Then go out and knock ’em dead!


  2. TheUndercoverCouponer
    May 25, 2011 @ 22:41:41

    Billye, I tweeted your article out. Great stuff! Among friends, when I am asked how old I am, I always say that I am turning 21 for the ___ time (fill in the blank!). It’s only funny because I am clearly NOT 21.

    Can’t imagine being asked that during an interview, though…I would think twice about the company due to that question!


    • resumesurvislady
      May 27, 2011 @ 06:52:36

      @TheUndercoverCouponer…. It’s hard to imagine it gets asked, but I know it does and have had multiple people email me this question. It’s a crazy world out there!!! Over on my LinkedIn Group: Resume Survis Lady there are some rather interesting comments on this thread. 🙂


    • resumesurvislady
      May 27, 2011 @ 06:57:11

      Many thanks!!! And I love your answer about turning 21. Maybe I should change my “still” 29 to “still” 21….


  3. Jennifer Woodard
    May 26, 2011 @ 13:03:16


    I love that answer and it would take nerves to give that answer. I really wouldn’t worry about the age issue until it comes up and if they are asking and not willing to hire you because of age, you probably wouldn’t enjoy working there anyway.

    Happy blogging,


    • resumesurvislady
      May 27, 2011 @ 06:58:48

      @Jennifer…..maybe it’s because I am a recruiter and in HR that I would have no problem at all giving that answer if asked. I think it might come down to a confidence level. For me, if someone asked me that in an interview I would most likely know I wouldn’t want to work for them at that point and feel I have nothing to loose.


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