8 Ways to Make Your Resume Competitive As A Late-Career Job Seeker

Photo Credit: AdobeStock/Monkey Business

By Valerie Martinelli, MPA

READ MORE: Career advice, Career development, Women in the workplace, Equality, Resume

Age may not always work to your advantage when searching for a job.

Hiring managers with ageist biases may see older job seekers as having a tough time keeping up with younger job seekers when it comes to technology and new advancements. Employers may also feel that older employees are more expensive to pay — both salary and benefits wise. In addition, it may be a belief that an older job seeker's experience is outdated, especially when an employer is given a choice to hire a younger worker, who will likely have more updated and relevant skills, certifications, or requirements.

So, what mistakes can older job seekers avoid in their resume to help them circumvent these biases? Let’s take a look.

1. Exclude the dates.

Using dates can be a huge mistake. Don’t use dates for college, advanced-level degrees, high school, or any certifications, or professional development courses. You may want to consider removing high school altogether if you have a college degree.

2. Consider your resume style.

Using a chronological resume is also a mistake for older job seekers because it establishes work history in chronological order, starting with the first job. One preferable format is a functional resume, which focuses on one’s skills and experience instead of work history in chronological order. Another preferable format for older job seekers is called the combination format. This one details skills and qualifications first. It also a great way of answering any potential questions about career changes or gaps in work history because it establishes work history in reverse chronological order. This is usually my format of choice because as candidates’ progress through their mid-level into senior-level, it is easy to display accomplishments while continuing to hide age.

3. Limit the related experience.

If you’re writing a summary, don’t discuss how many years’ related experience you have. Just stating that you have 20 years’ experience- or more can flag you as an older job seeker. I typically limit experience by two things- years and length of the resume. While I understand why most candidates want to list all their experience, for older job seekers it ends up being too much. It isn’t necessary to go back 20 years- or worse, even more- just to try to show that you’re qualified. Limit it to fifteen years or under. If done well, this results in about a 2-page resume, which is satisfactory.

4. Don’t be shy about your skills.

Whatever resume format you choose, it would be a mistake to be shy about your skills. Show potential employers that you know the latest technology or software. Also, remove any old or outdated technology.

5. Write a targeted resume.

This is important for each position applied to. Failing to do so is not only a mistake in applying but it also focuses your resume on your relevant experience, accomplishments, and skillsets. Targeted resumes are adapted to each position through the summary and keywords in a job description.

6. Check your font.

What font are you using? Some are a bit dated, such as Times New Roman and are now used less frequently. You don’t want your resume to look outdated either.

7. Give LinkedIn some love, too.

Another mistake is leaving your LinkedIn URL off your resume. Include it at the top along with your name, cell phone number, and email address. However, before adding it on be sure that it’s updated as well. A well updated LinkedIn profile includes your headline, summary, professional experience, recommendations, skills, volunteer experience, and other sections that are applicable. It also is a good idea to personalize your LinkedIn URL for personal branding purposes.

8. Technology is everything.

What version of Microsoft Word are you using to create your resume? If it’s dated, then it is going to affect the layout and design of your file once it is converted. It also important to consider that most resumes are emailed or uploaded so the individual receiving or downloading the file could be looking at a distorted layout due to an outdated word processing technology. It is best to keep your computer as up-to-date as possible to avoid this and potentially missing out on a job opportunity.

By utilizing these tips, older job seekers can avoid making mistakes that will ultimately cost them opportunities or flag their resumes due to their age. Job searching is difficult and competitive enough and does not need to be made even harder as we age.

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