Resume Tips for Older Workers
14 Myth-Busting Resume Hacks for Job Seekers Over 40
by Phaedra Brotherton, JCTC, CPRW, CDF
Surveys show that two out of three workers between the ages of 45 and 74 say they have seen — or experienced — age discrimination at work. And surprisingly, jobseekers as young as 35 even cite age as a top obstacle to getting hired.
Although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 protects individuals 40 or older from employment discrimination based on age, the law only applies to companies and organizations with 20 or more employees.
And the law does not prohibit an employer from asking an applicant’s age or date of birth — although requests for age information are “closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose.”
But the reality remains: You can’t change your age and age discrimination is very difficult to prove — especially when it comes to hiring. So job seekers over 40 need to do everything they can to maximize their chances of winning interviews for opportunities that are great for them.
At a time when employers take from 6 to 30 seconds to decide if a resume goes into the "yes" pile, an updated, modern resume is one tool that can help you make that all-important good first impression. Today’s resume is not an obituary of your career, but a story-telling and marketing piece that communicates your value and relevancy.
Here are 14 resume strategies to help you overcome three of the most common objections employers have about mature workers.
Objection #1: Older Workers Are Not Open to New Ideas and Approaches
Strategy: Bring your resume into the 21st century
- Give your resume a clear focus for a particular type of job or job area (and even industry if possible). One size does not fit all.
- Ditch the career objective and begin with a strong positioning, accomplishment-oriented summary that gives the reader a snapshot of your strongest and most relevant qualifications for the job.
- Focus on the last 10-15 years of your career — and eliminate age-revealing information, such as highlighting that great management internship from 1973.
- Leave graduation dates off of your degrees and summarize important early experience.
- Include up-to-date relevant terms or "keywords" associated with your profession and industry.
- Briefly summarize your job responsibilities and include bulleted quantified achievements illustrating how you positively advanced the bottom line or the overall organization.
- Highlight projects you initiated, problems you tackled and resolved, and cross-functional teams you collaborated with to demonstrate your flexibility and ability to manage change.
Objection #2: Mature workers are resistant to using new technology.
Strategy: Show your reader that you embrace technology
- Replace your “aol.com” address with a modern (and free) email address, such as gmail.com or outlook.com; use a professional account name, such as email@example.com (not “firstname.lastname@example.org”)
- Include your cell phone number. Don’t have a cell phone? Get one!
- Include the vanity URL to your LinkedIn profile (not the default one with extra numbers at the end of it). Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Get one and make sure it includes the right keywords and meets minimum completeness standards.
Objection #3: Experienced workers have not kept up to date on profession/industry.
Strategy: Prove that you are current in your field and committed to continuous learning
- List current certifications earned and training completed relevant to your job and industry.
- Join and list the professional associations of which you are a member or better—a leader.
- Write and include links to relevant industry articles or blog posts you’ve written.
- Highlight any speaking you have done related to your desired position and industry.
These are just a few of the strategies mature workers can use to start the myth-busting process to present themselves as the qualified and valuable employees they are. So how does your resume stack up?