Career Management: 6 Tips for Creating a Resume That Doesn’t Scream, “I’m Over 50!”
Guest: Kathy Keshemberg, NCRW, CCMC
Many of us are embarking on the next phase of our career, having been with the same company for 20+ years, and ready to try something new. But, how do we design a resume that won’t scream “I’m over 50!!”? Here are some tips that might help.
Refrain from omitting omit dates. Excluding graduation dates and/or dates of early positions so that your age cannot be calculated is an outdated strategy. Without graduation dates the reader may assume you are older than you really are. And, if you are invited for an interview, your reputation could be damaged for not being forthright once it is discovered that you attempted to shave 20 years off your age. Save everyone time and include dates of your entire career history and educational background. The truth will come out eventually and if the company discriminates against older workers, then you don’t want to work there anyway!
Don’t emphasize your tenure in the work force. Beginning your opening summary with “25 years of experience” is not a good strategy. Instead, talk about recent experience. For example, if you’ve been on a relevant project that relates to the position you are seeking for the past 10 years, focus on that time span instead of your entire career. Or simply don’t mention the number of years of experience, and focus on your value proposition instead. What is it that differentiates you from the competition? Those qualities will grab the reader’s attention more quickly than the number of years you’ve been working.
Highlight recent experience. The “weight” of your resume should be on experience gained in the past 10-15 years. Anything before that should be condensed. For example, if you have worked for Coca Cola from 1989-Present, you might want to include complete information about more recent positions and end with a statement such as “early career positions included Regional Sales Manager (1992-1995) and District Manager (1989-1992).” Or, if your first positions were with other companies, include a section entitled “Additional Experience” and simply list the company, job title, and dates. You are being transparent by providing a complete history, but not cluttering your resume with details that aren’t supporting your candidacy.
Don’t use an outdated format. Show that you are current by formatting your resume to today’s standards. Select a tasteful, easy-to-read font (Arial Narrow, Calibri, or Tahoma are my favorites), don’t underline text but use graphic lines instead, and utilize full margin width (no section headings and dates taking up the left margin). Peruse samples on websites of professional resume writers to get a better idea of how we are formatting resumes these days.
Get rid of obsolete statements. Nothing will age you more quickly than the “References Available upon Request” line. Of course you’ll supply references if asked! Chances are, though, you’ve been checked out on Google and LinkedIn before being invited for an interview, so the recipient of your resume already knows what others are saying about you. Also watch out for phrases such as “responsible for” and “duties included” as they are outdated and a waste of space – use action verbs instead.
Include hobbies that show you are active. Typically I don’t recommend listing hobbies, but if you are an avid runner or skier or active in sports, use these facts to demonstrate that you are in good shape and taking care of yourself. This information will also indicate you are competitive which in some professions is a valuable trait.
With a good design and solid information your resume will “sell” you as the ideal candidate and land you an interview invite … no matter what your age!
Have you got a resume success tip for flying through the “age-ometer”? We’d love to hear it!
For more than two decades, Kathy Keshemberg, NCRW, CCMC and her team at A Career Advantage have been providing professionals with world-class resume consultation and writing, career coaching and personal branding services. Learn more at www.acareeradvantage.com