By: Michelle Dumas, Careerealism
“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.”
That’s an amusing quote that you’ve no doubt seen on a bumper sticker or meme, but when you’re close to that half-century mark, a glance in the mirror and it becomes your mantra.
You’re still that young, vibrant, capable person you were twenty years ago, no matter what that mirror says. Or what society seems to think.
Unfortunately, when you’re looking for a job, “society” has a huge pool of candidates. And you, even with your great experience, have a lot of competition.
Age bias in the job search is real. Of course it’s illegal, but if you make that your excuse, you’ll never get the job. Instead, revamp your resume to de-emphasize your age, making you more appealing and more able to compete.
While the best course of action is to consult with a professional resume writer, if you are determined to do it yourself, here are some resume writing tips to make this happen.
1. Trim your resume to the most recent 20 years.
Forget the old-school thinking that you have to put your whole history on your resume. It’s not an autobiography. It’s a marketing document – it needs to represent you as a product that the employer wants to buy.
They want to see how your recent accomplishments match up with what they need, and 30-year-old achievements appear outdated. If you say your PC experience is from 1985, they’ll think you’re clueless about new technology.
2. Include relevant early experience in your summary.
Trimming the dates doesn’t mean leaving out relevant experience, just be thoughtful about how you present it. Highlight those undated achievements in a beginning summary, or create a section at the end that lists additional experience.
By adding the experience in semi-prose, you can leave off dates without drawing attention to the fact that you left off dates.
3. Be creative in how you list employment dates.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving dates off of your resume completely. That will basically shout, “I’M OLD AND I DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.” Or worse, it says you don’t have a clue about writing a resume.
But don’t feel trapped into the traditional way of displaying dates, i.e.
2000 – 2014
Employer, Location, Position
Downplay the date with a simple re-format:
Position (2000 – 2014)
For long-term employment with one company, list the dates for each position rather than encapsulating the time in one date listing.
We recently created a resume for an executive candidate with 35 years under one employer. Using the traditional method, his start date highlights his age and breaks the “most-recent-20-years” rule.
Instead, we left off the all-inclusive dates and listed dates with positions, going back 15 to 20 years.
ABC Employer, Anytown, USA
Current Position (2014 – Present)
XYZ Employer, Anytown, USA
Position A (2007 – 2016)
Position B (2002 – 2007)
Position C (2000 – 2002)
** Additional experience includes…
4. Include your education dates.
A common error is leaving off education dates, which you might do to “fit in” with your younger competitors.
But the resume reader expects your education date to “close the loop” on your experience. If you started your current career track the same year you earned your degree, but you don’t list that year on your education, it looks like you’re hiding it, which will immediately make the reader think that you’re older than your work experience indicates.
UNLESS…you have a good strategic reason not to include the dates of your education.
If you’re following these resume writing tips and shortening your resume to the most recent 20 years, your degree date might not make the cut. If so, include the degree, but leave off the date.
Having the degree is much more important than the date you received it; don’t make the mistake of not listing your degree at all.
5. Highlight your achievements and what you can bring to the job.
The most important of all the resume writing tips, no matter your age, is that you highlight your accomplishments and illustrate your unique value.
Showcase achievements that demonstrate your experienced-earned credibility, judgment and decision-making abilities, range of professional contacts, work ethic and reliability.
Dispel the ageist misconception that as an older worker you’re uncompromising or technologically inept. Touch on achievements that illustrate a high energy level, strong technical skills, and adaptability to change.
Position yourself for the job by demonstrating that you are the perfect candidate. Show how you’ll solve their problem, or fill their need. You’ll get their attention and age won’t be an issue.
Beyond your resume…
More important than following these resume writing tips, is this:
Recognize your value.
Be proud of your age. Your experience and perspective bring value to the workplace that your younger competitors can’t. Your self-assurance, confidence, and employment maturity will come across in your resume and interview.