You're in your mid-fifties, and after decades of steady employment in your field, you're back on the job market. Looking for work when you'd rather be looking forward to your retirement is no picnic, but as an added challenge, it may seem that many employers are actually put off by your age, and are not excited about your track record of experience. You may have more to offer than your younger counterparts in terms of in-depth knowledge and skill, but you also command a higher salary. And in this tight economy, many employers are more interested in saving money on salaries than comparatively minor training costs.
Then there's the technology gap.
Before you sit down to draft your resume, stop and think about your overall approach. What core message does your resume deliver? Are you simply providing affirmative answers to the questions in the job posting (yes, I do have three to five years of experience)? Or are you reaching out to a hiring manager with a specific problem and solving that problem with brilliance and style? Are you trying to get something from her, or are you handing her something she needs, something that exceeds her expectations, makes her job easier, helps her eliminate risk, and brings revenue to her business? Here are a few considerations for each major section of your resume.
Employers are looking for workers who are comfortable with the latest versions of common office software, and they also want workers who can navigate job related apps (or develop them), and use Internet platforms (or create them). You know your way around an Excel file, and you're handy with a smartphone, but at your level, you rely more on your management experience and broader business skills than you do on these widgets. How can you explain to employers that 1.) You aren't technologically challenged, and 2.) You have more to offer than a jazzed-up blog and Facebook profile?
In other words, how can you get them to focus on your skills and not dismiss you outright because of your age?
Your Resume: Simple Age-Proofing Tips
- First and foremost, don't state your age on your resume. In fact, the more limited the personal information that appears on your resume, the better. This applies to everyone. Your age, height, weight, gender, health status, family status and hair color have no place on your resume. Your graduation dates may give you away, but let reviewers do the math on their own.
- Don't let your presentation date you. For example, don't be tempted to type your resume out on a typewriter. Use Microsoft Word. And before you sit down to write, go online to review samples and get a general sense of modern resume layouts and organization.
- One of the (many) advantages of your experience is your strong command of language. You know how to express yourself with brevity, clarity, and relevance. Do so confidently, and don't try to load your resume with youthful-sounding buzzwords.
- Another advantage of experience is your ability to pick and choose the best items from a long history of accomplishments. While your younger counterparts may be struggling to fill a page with victories that amount to little more than showing up on time, you've actually done some pretty amazing things during the last few decades. Be selective and organize your resume in a way that showcases your best work.
- Don't be tempted to apologize or overcompensate for your prevalence of non-computer related skills. In other words, don't try to shout that you've mastered Facebook while downplaying your years of experience with negotiation, public speaking, leadership, sales, classroom management, clinical expertise, or artistic virtuosity, etc.
- At the same time, respect younger skill sets. Keep an open mind, and make it clear to employers that you're willing, able, and excited to learn new things.