Every week, I get requests for résumé reviews from candidates who can’t figure out what is holding them back from landing interviews. In many cases, these job hunters are inadvertently highlighting their age on the résumé—all while hoping that employers will focus on something else.
If you think you might be screened out of the running for choice jobs due to your age, read on for some common scenarios that are easily prevented with a few changes to your résumé (even if you’re in your 60’s!):
Cut to the chase on your career history.
Does any employer really care what you did 25 years ago? Most hiring managers want to see fresh experience, and consider achievements from the past 10-15 years to be most relevant. Even leadership résumés, while showing much-needed progression up the career ladder, should be focused on what you’ve achieved lately.
If you just can’t let go of that Bank President title from the 80’s, add it (without dates) in a one-liner at the end of your professional history.
Are numbers hurting your chances?
Is your best accomplishment mere survival? It can look that way if you begin a résumé summary with “…over 23 years in the banking industry…”.
Your strongest qualifications are better demonstrated by describing achievements that generated profits, cut bottom-line costs, or retained customers—instead of focusing on longetivity.
Just the facts…please.
The date of every degree program is NOT necessarily positive, enticing fodder for your résumé. Is it really pertinent that your MBA was completed 18 years ago? Will showing an engineering degree from the 1970’s actually help—or does it kill your chances?
Most employers requiring a degree focus mainly on the program itself, with less emphasis on the graduation date. Cut the date, but keep the degree.
Don’t make employers read a book.
If your strategy for updating your résumé throughout the years was to just add your latest job, and then add the next, and the next… it’s time to stop.
Hiring authorities don’t have the time to wade through pages of your career to find out the relevance to their needs. Summarize your credentials up front, and then chop—ruthlessly—from the back, until you’ve narrowed it to 2 or 3 pages.
Everything else has changed… so should your résumé format.
The Internet age has dawned…should you still be using a font that looks as if it were produced on a typewriter?
As I’ve emphasized before, the most compelling résumés are actually marketing documents. Therefore, they deserve BETTER than a stock template or a dull list of job duties.
In other words, presentation really IS everything! To be considered for a leadership role, use an attractive, well-formatted document reflective of your value proposition, plus the results you can deliver.
Remember, employers are in constant need of industry knowledge, consistent results, and flexibility from their employees, especially in today’s culture of constant change and economic turmoil. Market qualifications, not age, as you advance your career to the next level—and reap the benefits of your well-earned expertise by gaining more attention from hiring authorities.