8 Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers

Published: Apr 30, 2018

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Age might not always work to your advantage when searching for a job. Sometimes, hiring managers with age biases see older job seekers as having a tough time keeping up with younger job seekers when it comes to technology and new advancements. Employers might also see older employees as being more expensive to pay with respect to both salary and benefits. In addition, older job seekers can be seen as having outdated experience, especially when compared to younger workers, who often have more updated and relevant skills, certifications, or requirements. So what are older job seekers to do in order to keep up? When it comes to updating their resume, there are several things they need to keep in mind. And here, below, are the most important.

1. Exclude dates

Using dates can be a huge mistake. Don’t use dates for college, advanced-level degrees, high school, or any certifications, or professional development courses. You may want to consider removing high school altogether if you have a college degree.

2. Consider going non-chronological

Using a chronological resume is also a mistake for older job seekers because it establishes work history in chronological order, starting with the first job. One preferable format is a functional resume, which focuses on one’s skills and experience instead of work history in chronological order. Another preferable format for older job seekers is called the combination format. This one details skills and qualifications first. It also is a great way of answering any potential questions about career changes or gaps in work history because it establishes work history in reverse chronological order. This is usually my format of choice because as candidates progress through their mid-level into senior-level, it's easy to display accomplishments while continuing to hide age.

3. Limit your related experience

If you’re writing a summary, don’t discuss how many years’ related experience you have. Just stating that you have 20 years’ experience or more can flag you as an older job seeker. I typically limit experience by two things: years and length of the resume. While I understand why most candidates want to list all their experience, for older job seekers it ends up being too much. It isn’t necessary to go back 20 years or more just to try to show that you’re qualified. Limit it to 15 years or under. If done well, this results in about a two-page resume, which is satisfactory.

4. Don’t be shy about your skills

Whatever resume format you choose, it's a big mistake to be shy about your skills. Show potential employers that you know the latest technology or software. Also, remove any old or outdated technology.

5. Write a targeted resume

This is important for each position applied to. Failing to do so is not only a mistake in applying but it also focuses your resume on your relevant experience, accomplishments, and skillsets. Targeted resumes are adapted to each position through the summary and keywords in a job description.

6. Check your font

What font are you using? Some, such as Times New Roman, are a bit dated and are now used less frequently. You don’t want your resume to look outdated either.

7. Give LinkedIn some love, too

Another mistake is leaving your LinkedIn URL off your resume. Include it at the top along with your name, cell phone number, and email address. However, before adding it on be sure that it’s updated as well. A well updated LinkedIn profile includes your headline, summary, professional experience, recommendations, skills, volunteer experience, and other sections that are applicable. It's also a good idea to personalize your LinkedIn URL for personal branding purposes.

8. Technology is everything

What version of Microsoft Word are you using to create your resume? If it’s dated, then it's going to affect the layout and design of your file once it is converted. It's also important to consider that most resumes are emailed or uploaded so the individual receiving or downloading the file could be looking at a distorted layout due to an outdated word processing technology. It's best to keep your computer as up-to-date as possible to avoid this and potentially missing out on a job opportunity.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, which helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.