Age-Proof Your Resume

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Don’t Let Your Resume Age You-

If you find yourself unexpectedly back on the job market after years of steady employment, knowing where to start can be very overwhelming. Will you be overlooked for jobs because of your age? Possibly. Age discrimination is illegal, but it still happens. The format and contents of your resume says a lot about your age to potential employers. Unfortunately, age discrimination is a prevalent factor in today’s job market and it can effect both young and seasoned job seekers. You do not want to be filtered out by the staff who are screening initial resumes and lose the opportunity to demonstrate your talents and skills.

You’re back in the job market again, but this time you find yourself competing with job seekers much younger than yourself. You are likely facing major changes in technology, networking and self-branding. What now? Start with the basics and revamp your resume. Remember that you have desirable skills and experience—you just have to package them in a way that will make you seem relevant, not dated. Preparing a resume that emphasizes your value and de-emphasizes your age can get you in the door and hopefully beyond.

Below are some quick things to “age-proof” your resume:

Listing Full Mailing Address:
For many years, resumes were mailed via the postal service. Home addresses were listed on the top center of the resume. Since the majority of resume submittals now are electronic, there is no reason to put your full mailing address on the resume. Besides being antiquated, personal safety, economic profiling and length of commute are other reasons to leave this off of you resume. If a potential employer needs your mailing address during the interview/offer process, they will ask you for it.

E-Mail Address:
Even your email address can date you. If you have an AOL, Road Runner or EarthLink account, open a new one with Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail and list that as your point of contact. Another option is to get an email address from a professional society, your alumni association or purchase your own domain name. All of these options say something about your professional brand. I always recommend using a separate e-mail address for your job search.

Home Phone Number:
Home phone numbers are all but obsolete for the 40 and under generation. You want to make sure if you do list a home phone number that it has a working voice mail that is checked daily. You also want to make sure that if a prospective employer calls that number and someone answers, that person will be capable of relaying a message to you. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a small child on the phone and asking them to take a message for their parent. If you do not want to give out your cell phone number, get a Google Voice number. Put the Google Voice number on your resume as your cell number. You can set it up so that it will ring on multiple phones (both home and cell). It can be configured to transcribe the message and then e-mail or text you the transcription.

Double Space After Period:
While this seems like a minor thing, two spaces after a period is obsolete. It is how most people were taught to type on a typewriter. Therefore, if you do use two spaces after a period, it is a very likely indicator that you are over 40 years of age.

Using “Tired” Words:
Language is a big indication of where you are in your career. If you use words such as “seasoned” and “veteran,” you’re not only making yourself sound older, but suggesting that you see yourself that way too. Freshen up your text with action-oriented words that carry positive connotations, like “versatile” and “adaptable.” Focus on how you developed and maximized your role in each position.

Showcasing Out-of-Date Skills:
Show that you’re current with technology and industry trends by removing antiquated equipment, programs and tools and highlight your knowledge of modern technology.
Limit the skills you list on your resume to current and relevant skills. I have seen many technical resumes that list every system, software program and technology that the applicant has ever touched. Are you proficient with MS-DOS or an expert at BASIC programming? While these programs were once cutting-edge, they have been replaced with new technology. Unless you are applying for a position that requires these skills, leave off older technologies.

Listing Too Much Experience:
It may seem counterintuitive, but a list of 20 to 30 years’ worth of experience is not what prospective employers are interested in. They want to know what you’ve done lately. Avoid listing experience that dates back further than 15 years. Instead, emphasize your most recent positions. If the list seems sparse, include any organizations, affiliations and awards that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you feel compelled to delve into earlier experiences, create a section called “Early Career” and provide just the highlights and omit dates.

Too Much Text:
Resume formats are constantly changing, so be sure you are up-to-date on current styles. It’s ideal to keep your resume to a single page; however, if you have more than 15 years of experience, it’s acceptable to add a second page—but no more. Unless you are applying for a role in a creative field (graphic design, advertising), keep the layout SIMPLE. Graphics and busy layout distract from the contents of the page. Use a standard font, such as Arial, in a size that is no smaller than 11 point. Print your resume on white paper with black ink, avoiding colors. In addition to a print version, be sure to create a “plain text” resume for online databases, which sets every line against the left margin and has no formatting such as bullets, bold, italics, etc. When emailing your resume, be sure to use a PDF version, since formatting and font can change from computer to computer with a basic Word document.

Ignoring the Internet:
In today’s job market, it’s imperative to have a professional online presence. Many prospective research applicants online BEFORE they begin the interview process. Establish a profile on LinkedIn, ZoomInfo or other professional sites. For your profile photo, use a picture with professional attire that only features you—no family members or friends. Keep these accounts strictly business; don’t post anything personal you wouldn’t want employers to see. Always make sure that your professional profiles are consistent with your resumes that you are submitting. It is a good idea to include links to these on your resume.

Education Information:
If a hiring manager wants to know a person’s age, they 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.
Remember that university programs are not the only form of education you can list here—if you’ve taken any special training or coursework that pertains to your field, add that to this section.
Keep your school names update;d: 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.

Choosing Quantity Over Quality:
The biggest benefit of your age is that you’ve accomplished a lot more than the younger competition. You can use this to your advantage—you just have to put the right spin on it. Instead of an exhaustive list of every job you’ve held, play up a few select positions and elaborate on what you achieved while there. Focus on the positive and productive, providing examples of how your performance helped past employers meet or exceed their goals and bottom-line results.

Resume Format:
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’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 ultimately their bottom-line results.

Keep in mind that many employers prefer older workers because of experience, maturity, leadership skills and positive work ethic. If you are able to sell potential employers on the value that you bring to the table, your job search will be a SUCCESS.