If you’re on the job market and over the age of 55, watch out for common boomer-specific resume mistakes like the ones listed below. These kinds of blunders can be damaging to job seekers in any age category, but when they’re committed by baby boomers, they play directly into the hands of biased managers who don’t have the wisdom or experience to see past silly stereotypes. While you may not want to work for these managers anyway (who would?) it’s still nice to have options. So don’t remove yourself from the running for the wrong reasons.
1. File and submission errors. The best and most reliable way to create a resume is with a recent version of Microsoft word (preferably using templates provided by a sophisticated resume builder like LiveCareer’s). You can also submit resumes as PDFs if this is requested, but stick with either of these two. And when you send your resume, simply attach it to an email and submit.
2. Length. Keep your resume under two pages at the most. Older, senior-level job seekers like you are generally granted more leeway when it comes to length, but don’t abuse this advantage. Three pages—or more—can easily cross the line, tax a reviewer’s patience, and make your resume difficult to compare with others in the stack.
3. An inability to select and discriminate. If managers could wave a wand and magically send this message to older job seekers, they would do so immediately: please don’t list and describe every single position you’ve ever held. Choose only the positions that are relevant to this job. And as you list your most important accomplishments under each position, stick with the accomplishments that will hold meaning for your target employers.
4. A focus on outdated skills. You may have launched your career by running a punch card reader or working as a comptometer, or you may have taken a course in C++ back in 1997. But while these devices and skills were state of the art at the time, they’re now included in your resume only to document and summarize your career history. They describe what you’ve done, not what you’re able to do. Know the difference.
5. A tendency to cling to outdated traditions. Certain resume moves may have been an indispensable part of business culture when you launched your first job search a few decades ago, but many of these have now fallen out of favor. For example, don’t end your resume with the phrase “references available upon request.” Nobody does this anymore, for a wide variety of reasons. Also, don’t assume hiring managers will be dazzled by empty business-sounding jargon (they won’t). And of course, never open your cover letter with the words “Dear Sir.” Instead, use the hiring manager’s name if you know what it is (“Dear Sally Johnson”), and a generic greeting if you don’t (“Dear QualCo,” or “Dear QualCo HR”).
Use LiveCareer’s Resume Builder to keep your resume out of trouble and up to date. Make sure hiring managers evaluate you based on your skill, leadership, and experience—not your age.