By Rhonda Collins
I Start Wondering Columnist
Are you having trouble finding appropriate employment even though you have lots of experience, education, and skills? One of my clients recently came to me complaining of this problem. In fact, Jane, who is in her 60s, wasn’t even getting requests for interviews.
When she showed me her resume, I immediately saw Jane’s problem. She had a number of items that screamed: “out of touch with today’s workplace.”
Contrary to what some believe, employers will hire older workers. Many places actually prefer employees with decades of experience and a reputation for reliability. As a personal testimony to this trend, my 62-year-old husband was recently recruited by a previous employer to return as a mobile instructor who will visit the company’s various worksites. He will not only be doing advanced-level training but also coaching younger instructors on best practices in teaching.
To get hired, seasoned employed job candidates must demonstrate that they are not only as skilled and knowledgeable as younger colleagues, but also are able to keep up with all the latest trends in their industry. For example, if you are a graphic designer specializing in marketing, you need to be fluent in Instagram and Twitter. And, if you do find posting a video on TikTok easier than slipping into pantyhose without that reinforced toe sliding sideways (remember those days!), then be sure to list your social media skills on your resume – and among your “Skills and Endorsements” on your LinkedIn profile.
Resume Update Tips
Whether 55 or 85, here are a few tips to polish your resume to allow it (and you) to appear up to date and in touch with the latest trends.
Update your email to a newer platform
One of Jane’s mistakes was her AOL email address. This suggests she got her email address in the mid-1980s and hasn’t changed it since. Trendy in the early 2000s, Yahoo also looks dated now. The most popular email platforms today are Gmail and the various iterations of Apple Mail and Outlook. If you have the know-how and/or budget to own a personal website, you might consider a unique email address, such as Rhonda@Nameofwebsite.com.
Leave off your physical/street mailing address. Phone number and email are all that’s required. Employers will email any necessary documents. Also, it protects your privacy. If you feel you need to communicate that you are local (meaning you are familiar with the area and they won’t have to pay for you to relocate), simply list the city and state.
List your LinkedIn profile. This is the only social media account you should list on your resume. Put it at the top of the resume, just after your name and email. If you don’t have one already, create an account, and keep it updated frequently. (It’s also a great way to search for jobs and network within your industry.)
Get rid of these other unnecessary items.
“References available on request” – of course, they are, and the employer will ask you to submit them if you are a final candidate.
Past salary information – submit only if requested.
“Married with three children” or “Member of First XYZ Church” – This was another one of Jane’s mistakes. While these were once common tactics to denote maturity and stability, today these and similar phrases are opportunities for discrimination.
Social security number – please, no.
“Career Objective: To find a job that. . .” Back when you created one resume and had it copied 50 times at a print shop for mailing to the companies on your job search list, the job objective might have meant something. Today, employers know that you can create a new resume with a new objective for every job application. It’s now a waste of space.
Put jobs older than 20 years in a short “Other Experience” section that lists only the title of the job and employer without a list of duties.
If 90% of people know how to do it, you probably don’t need to list it among your skills. Another issue with Jane’s resume was her statement that she is familiar with “Microsoft Office word processor” and how to conduct research using the “World Wide Web.”
Emphasize accomplishments over duties. For example:
Instead of: “In charge of mergers.” Say: “Oversaw largest merger in company history.”
Instead of: “Developed and implemented recruitment events.” Say: “Founder of XYZ Recruitment Weekend, which garnered 200 attendees in its first year, 50% of whom enrolled as students.”
Use terms and phrases from the job posting when describing previous work experience
This will prevent you from being dropped from the candidate pool by the resume scanning software. You may think the wording of your resume is saying the exact same thing as the job posting, and maybe even better or more grammatically correct. However, applicant tracking systems (ATS), sometimes called “hiring bots,” use keywords and phrases from job posting to find candidates who have the right experience.
Shorten the resume overall
I don’t believe job seekers who have decades of experience should use a one-page resume, but long gone are the days when a six- or eight-page resume with lengthy descriptions and full sentences is acceptable. I recommend keeping the resume at no more than three pages. The one exception to this rule is curriculum vitae for higher education employers.
Consider these omissions if you think the employer might be inclined to favor younger candidates:
Take the graduation date off your high school and college degree listings.
Remove the dates from older certifications, training, and awards.
Only list the past 15-20 years of work experience.
Remove training or experience that is no longer trendy, such as “Total Quality Management,” unless it is specifically relevant to the job posting.
If you are like my client Jane, and your resume doesn’t reflect how young you feel, then consider giving it a makeover using the tips above to better represent yourself in your next job search. You can also find more advice on resume polishing for older adults here:
Are you searching for a new job or looking for a different type of employment? And what are you experiencing in creating this next chapter?