Age and your job search

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Modified: October 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm •  Published: October 19, 2012
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Dear Sam: I have been pouring through some of your most recent columns and though you have offered what appears to be well-thought-out strategies for reworking a résumé with three to five years of experience, I have an altogether different issue. Having had a company recently close around me, I have found myself in unfamiliar territory having 20+ years of experience encompassing multiple industries and job functions. I have produced many versions of my résumé in an attempt to better tailor this information to the reader. I have gratefully accepted help from all comers but am still not happy with the result. – Eric

Dear Eric: I am sorry to hear of your company closing and am happy to offer some insight into how you could improve the effectiveness of your résumé. I should note that a good percentage of my columns are focused on the more mature candidate, so look through a few more columns and you will see many that focus exclusively on candidates with significant experience.

Based on a quick scan of your résumé, I noticed one major concern that could potentially derail your search: You have absolutely no dates on your résumé. This is a glaring red flag to hiring managers and typically the omission of dates paints a far worse picture than reality. I do think pulling key accomplishments out and placing them in a highlights section on page one is the way to go, but you must add some dates to your professional experience section.

As you are a VP/C-level leader, a hiring manager would expect to see a significant amount of experience on your résumé, so going back into the early ‘90s and possibly even the late ‘80s would be somewhat expected. You do not need to cut your experience short, remove all dates, or do anything else so drastic when you are a senior-level manager seeking to stay at that level; after all, to be at that level one assumes you are coming with significant experience and exposure.

Follow these tips to improve the effectiveness of your résumé:

1. Target, target, target! Be sure you know how you are positioning yourself in your résumé. It is imperative to send a consistent message, showcase areas of expertise, and differentiate your candidacy by presenting a very targeted picture of what you have done which positions you for what you now want to do!

2. Remove focus on the number of years of experience you possess if you are concerned it ages you. Within the first sentence of your résumé you are stating that you offer “20+ years of extensive experience…” By doing this you are immediately doing what you are trying not to do! You do not need to present a total of the number of years of experience you possess; let readers add that up if they are interested. Instead, be sure your summary focuses on just the highlights and key contributions associated with your candidacy.

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