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Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers

Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers

The workforce is aging, but very little is being done to accommodate the shifts in the workforce, leaving “mature” workers struggling with the challenges of job searching in a market geared to younger people.

Preparing a resume that emphasizes your value is a good first step to preparing for your search. Here are eight ways to age-proof your resume:

  • Don’t provide your complete work history. This is the number one mistake job seekers make. If it’s before 1990, employers probably don’t care. Hiring managers are most interested in what you did recently, so concentrate on your recent career. If you feel compelled to delve into earlier experiences, create a section called “Early Career” and provide just the highlights and no dates.
  • Watch your language. Avoid age-revealing statements such as “35 years of experience” or age-defining clichés such as “seasoned professional.”
  • Stick to a “combination” resume style, leading with a strong “Career Summary” section. You may have been advised to mask your years of experience with a functional resume format. But employers do not like to see functional resumes because they are often used by candidates who are trying to hide something. You don’t want employers reading your resume and searching for a possible problem. Unless your work history is extremely spotty or you are completely changing careers, stick to a chronological format.
  • Show that you’re current with technology and industry trends. Are you proficient with Wang or an expert at BASIC programming? While these programs were once cutting-edge, they have been replaced with new technology. Show that you’ve kept up with the times by removing antiquated equipment, programs, and tools, and highlight your knowledge of modern technology.
  • Consider dropping dates of education. This is a tough call, because hiring managers who want to know a person’s age will go right to the “Education” section and do the math. If your education occurred in the 1970s or earlier, it might be in your best interest to eliminate graduation dates.
  • Keep your school names updated. If you graduated from a school that has since changed its name, include the new name. If you are concerned about discrepancies in case an employer asks to see a transcript, write the former name of the school in parentheses.
  • Show that you’ve been continually learning or taking on new roles. The key is to demonstrate that your skills are fresh and in demand. It is important that you show that you are flexible and willing to adapt to organizational changes.
  • Quantify and expand on your achievements. As a professional with a long work history, this is your chance to accentuate the positive. You have what younger workers may lack — years of practical experience. Provide examples of how your performance contributed to your employers’ goals, mission, and bottom-line results.
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  • Thanks great pointers!

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  • Dick Yegan

    I appreciated the overall content of the suggestions……especially the reason to avoid a fuctional resume.

  • Wow, this is an exhaustive list of the things to be kept in mind while making the resume. Seems like loads of experience behind those words. This is a really good post and I have bookmarked it for reference.

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  • Martin Boushear

    I am a mature graduate with a range of degrees, diplomas and certificates but no one wants me. I have removed and added qualifications on my CV/resume to apply for jobs but it does not work. I have changed my CV/resume into a functional CV because I have had to change career many times. I have a lot of gaps due to being unemployed when a job comes to an end. I have used a chronilogical CV/resume but it does not get me into a job. I should be aiming for higher level roles but because I have changed career so many times I have to go for entry level roles. If I do low level jobs I do not stay because I am not stimulated enough or the employer recognizes that I am over-qualified for the role. But I do need a job and to earn a decent amount of money. I have been unemployed nearly 3 years and I do not know what else to try. Employment agencies lie to me and Job Boards do not work.

  • Respectfully, suggestions for hiding your age on a resume are exactly the wrong way to go.

    Suggestions to expound on your qualifications, as they relate to the job in question, are the right way to go if you want to make a positive impression.

    Teasing a recruiter or hiring manager with a vague or deceptive resume will only raise suspicion and add insult to injury when you are discovered to be too old for their preference in candidates, or a candidate for the particular job in question.

    Also–accept the fact that there are shortsighted decision makers who will discriminate against the older job applicant. Wasting your time and theirs will gain you absolutely nothing in the end. In fact, it can only increase your stress level such that your body language and/or frustration may be noticed – then where are you?

    And the concept of getting your foot in the door and “winning them over” is a stretch. I’d rather put it all out there and let the employer be aware of exactly who and what they are considering. If my experience; accomplishments–and ability to adapt toexpected and unexpected job related challenges doesn’t impress—they should pass on me.

    And, BTW, I’d appreciate not working for anyone who saw no value in what I consider to be an outstanding past performance with strong indications of future value. If a hiring manager, or recruiter, feel they want to stake their needs on unproven or up-and-coming youth—have at it.

    If an employer wants youth, that’s a strategic choice –they can grow their own. If they want wisdom gained from scar-tissue earned from personal and team performance — and “ready-now” capability — they can go for the proven older professional. Either way it’s a gamble – so, for me, I always go with the gravitas of experience — a track record of past accomplishments and the potential to be a dependable asset for the career challenges ahead.