Eight Ways to Age-Proof Your Resume

By Kim Isaacs, Nationally Certified Resume Writer

You're back in the job market again, but this time you find yourself competing with job seekers much younger than yourself. Take heart, because you're not alone and your future looks brighter than ever.

The workforce as a whole is aging, and by the year 2010, half of the workforce will be 45 to 55 years old. With a law that passed in April 2002, workers over 65 have incentive to pound the pavement because social security benefits will no longer be affected. So look out young'uns, your competition is here and looking good.

Will you be turned down for jobs because of your age? Possibly. Age discrimination is illegal, but it is still out there. 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.

Preparing a resume that emphasizes your value and de-emphasizes your age is a good first step. Here are eight ways to age-proof your resume:

1. Don't provide your complete work history: This is the number one mistake job seekers make. If it's before 1985, employers probably don't care. Hiring managers are most interested in what you did recently, so concentrate on your recent career. If you feel compelled to delve into earlier experiences, create a section called "Early Career" and provide just the highlights and no dates.

2. Watch your language: Avoid age-revealing statements such as "35 years of experience" or age-defining clichés such as "seasoned professional."

3. 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.

4. Show that you're current with technology and industry trends: Are you proficient with Wang or an expert at BASIC programming? While these programs were once cutting-edge, they have been replaced with new technology. Show that you've kept up with the times by removing antiquated equipment, programs, and tools, and highlight your knowledge of modern technology.

5. Consider dropping dates of education: This is a tough call, because hiring managers who want to know a person's age will go right to the "Education" section and do the math. If your education occurred in the 1960s or earlier, it might be in your best interest to eliminate graduation dates.

6. Keep your school names updated: 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.

7. 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.

8. 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 bottom-line results.

Kim's Bio: Kim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW). She served on the National Resume Writers' Association's certification commission for the NCRW credential for five years (1998-2003) and is currently on the Certification Advisory Committee. Her resume samples and articles are featured on thousands of sites throughout the Internet. Kim coauthored The Career Change Resume: How to Reinvent Your Resume and Land Your Dream Job (McGraw-Hill). Numerous career books feature Kim's advice about online job search techniques and sample resumes and cover letters. You can visit Kim's blog here: http://www.resumepower.com/blog.


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