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7 Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers

Age may be a state of mind, but in many industries it could be the reason you're not getting the call for an interview. Discrimination based on age is illegal, but sadly, it exists. In many cases, it is factored in even at the resume shortlisting phase. Sometimes, years of experience don't exactly work in the favor of the applicant. So how do you prove your capability for the job? While it is difficult predict the outcome of an actual interview, here are a few tips to help you spruce up your resume, to at least land the initial interview call.

Age may be a state of mind, but in many industries it could be the reason you’re not getting the call for an interview. Discrimination based on age is illegal, but sadly, it exists. In many cases, it is factored in even at the resume shortlisting phase. Sometimes, years of experience don’t exactly work in the favor of the applicant. So how do you prove your capability for the job? While it is difficult predict the outcome of an actual interview, here are a few tips to help you spruce up your resume, to at least land the initial interview call.

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1. Keep your resume up-to-date: Highlight your current or last job details, and get rid of old and irrelevant job experience. If your resume is running more than two pages, get rid of any experience that’s more than 15-20 years old. Even if you do remember your projects from your first job, you may not be able to provide references that far back who still vividly remember what you had done. Pay attention to the job description. If it mentions that they are looking for someone with 25-30 years of experience, then go ahead and add it in.

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2. Get rid of the year of graduation: While this is optional, if you graduated a long time ago, adding this information is not necessary. The graduation years are usually helpful for recent grads to justify their lack of experience and to let the recruiter know that they’re just starting up. By adding your year of graduation, you are also inviting your recruiter to guess your age. While it is illegal to discriminate against candidates based on age, it’s also hard to prove. If you take your birth year off, you won’t have to wonder. By the same logic, there is no need to add your date of birth information either.

3. Stay current: Job descriptions, roles, and titles have evolved over the years. The job you did a while ago may not be relevant now or the title has changed. Keep your information current and relevant to the job requirements.

4. Customize, customize, customize: This rule applies to all job applicants, age notwithstanding. Customize your resume by highlighting your skills and experience that are relevant to the job. Pay attention to keywords and use them in your resume.

5. Create a LinkedIn profile: Your recruiter is going to look you up on the internet, to know more about you. You don’t have to have an extensive social media presence, but at the very least, have a LinkedIn profile, so you pop up in her search results. Keep your profile updated and consistent with your resume.

6. Share relevant contact information: As Marc Miller, author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers explains on LinkedIn, your contact information should be relevant to this day and age. Home addresses and home telephone numbers are a thing of the past. He suggests creating email IDs that are more current or using email forwarding service from professional societies, alumni groups, or even a personal domain name.

7. Give your resume a facelift: Check out sample resume formats available online and choose the one that best fits your profile. Older resume versions are no longer in use and don’t really add value to your application. As Deborah Walker explains over at Quint Careers, things have changed, from the number of pages to use, to the extent of information to be shared.

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Do you have any suggestions or experiences to share? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
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7 Comments on "7 Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers"

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Stephanie
Guest

I completely agree. I’m a baby boomer and its very hard to find work. I’ve been searching since June with no luck. I upload at least 50 job specific resumes and only 3 interviews with 0 job offers. I do believe their is a great deal of age discrimination in higher paying jobs. Also, I know the last company I worked, the HR would post a job the required 3 days, but would already have personally chosen the person to hire.

Venkat Inumella
Guest
Couples of things u might want to include, more exp doesn’t mean more pages and info. It need to be precise and better have last 5 yrs info as most employers wud be interested in that rather than what u did some 10+ yrs back as it most probably is not significant and u too don’t lookout for that role or job anymore. Also its worth seeking a professional’s help in having the CV prepared or documented as these days we have better people for every job. Also better put clearly what u r looking for for change or reason… Read more »
Susan
Guest

Good article, but I must side with Kelly. I recently applied to a public entity I had previously plied to. They had my account in their system, but ther were numerous errors that I had to correct. And while I have noticed less scrutiny of dates, the fact still remains that many employers value youthful energy over experience.

Kevin J.
Guest
Padmaja, thanks for the article. Regarding LinkedIn, I encourage the use of one’s LinkedIn URL on the resume. Make it easy for the recruiter, hiring professional, software system to find out more about you, easily. Not sure if a resume extraction software would be programmed to go there, should you provide it, but technology is always finding new ways to do things. Regarding the issue of age; it’s perhaps the most common form of discrimination in our workforce. It’s prevalence has both personally hit home and proved to be a professional embarrassment for the practice of “Human” Resources.
Marcus
Guest

While Padmaja’s tips may help, Kelly has good points. The CV plays a role in getting the interview but accounts for nil in the employer’s decision. An experienced professional with a strong track record is looking for stability, preferably the last job. Yet, employers are passing on them to save $10K/year but will put up with high turnover. Nonsense.

Kelly
Guest
As one of those well educated, experienced job seekers, I suspect you are right on the money in saying it those factors are probably not working in my favor. Putting aside the obvious question of why companies really don’t want to hire experienced, well educated workers when they could get so much bang for their buck, please be aware that: 1) the well-designed format of our resumes is actually irrelevant. Companies use databases now that extract resume information, and force us to correct all their many extraction errors in our education and professional credentials. 2) These same databases often force… Read more »
Marc Miller
Guest

Padmaja,
Thanks for mentioning my book and referencing my post! 8^)

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