Nothing pains me more than having to write about age discrimination in employment. Yes, it’s illegal and I believe that most companies try to do what’s right. But, it happens. Whether it’s blatant or implicit, it happens.
We can all well remember how frustrating it was after leaving school and not being hired because you didn’t have enough experience. If you’re past a certain age, you may feel the same level of frustration because you have too much experience. If you’re not getting job interviews, your resume or online profile may be the offender.
Here are a few simple guidelines that will help give your profile and resume a facelift.
If it’s Old, Don’t Use it
Shorten your resume. If your work history is decades old, don’t use it. While going back 20-30 years may seem impressive, hiring managers are more interested in what you’ve accomplished in the last 10, perhaps 15 years. Use your resume space wisely and devote the space to your achievements that are fresh and relevant.
Consider an “Additional Professional Experience” Section
While I think it’s best to shorten your resume, if you feel compelled to show a certain career progression or a position that you know will be impressive, you can add an “Additional Professional Experience” section to your resume. If you go that route, remove the dates because you’ll find a recruiter or hiring manager trying to mentally calculate your age.
Additional Experience includes: Petty Officer, U.S. Navy: Promoted to E-6, based on leadership qualities, capacity to engage in critical missions, and ability to mentor junior staff.
Adding this section can help you capitalize on keyword searches without adding an entire work history and employment dates.
Watch Your Email Address
This is a twofer. First, if you are using an email address that denotes a graduation date or birth year (BetinaSmythe1965@), you’ll give away your age. Second, the email host account you use will also hint at your age. In fair disclosure, I still have a Hotmail address. I’ll keep it because I like the name and it’s good for spam emails. But, that’s all it is. It’s not my “real” email address. Having a Hotmail and AOL account automatically associates you with older generations. Yahoo will soon be in that category as well. Users with a GMAIL account, for example, are generally seen as more current. Yes, what a terrible world we must live in when the email address matters, but it shows your age.
Watch Your Graduation Dates
You can leave off your graduation date when you list your education. That is the quickest way a potential employer will estimate your age. It’s not necessary to have this on your resume. Keep your experience focused on relevant facts and achievements.
Be Age-Aware in Crafting Your Professional Summary
Tell your story appropriately. This area is generally an adjective-rich area – you know buzzwords like mature, experienced, seasoned, etc. This is also the area where people tend to say “more than 20 years” as a qualifier. Keep buzzwords out of your profile and grab attention by switching general phrasing with your dynamic details. Craft your summary with exclusive and vibrant language specific to how you want to relay your abilities instead of drawing attention to your longevity.
Tip: It’s okay to write in the first person for your summary. This creates a conversation between you and the reader. The best profiles are also updated regularly. If you’ve written papers, white papers, business case scenarios, or have completed major projects, you may want to list them. It shows you are not stagnant.
The Chronological Resume Format is Still Best
If you’ve been advised to use a functional resume to mask your years of experience, be aware that most employers still prefer the chronological resume. Recruiters have come to understand that functional resumes are often used to hide something. Unless your work history is exceedingly spotty or you are looking for a total career change, stick to a chronological format.
Dispel the Technology Myth
There is a stereotype floating around that assumes people over 50 lack technology skills. Drop technology terms that are a thing of the past. (Lotus notes, Fax, etc.) Show you’ve kept up with the times by removing archaic and outdated equipment, programs, and tools. Highlight your knowledge of modern technology.
If you’ve been experiencing some of these issues, remember your age is an asset. You have a lot to offer any organization. But, you might need to tweak your profile or resume a bit so that you can showcase those assets.
Here’s to a great week in your job search!