Dear Sam: I am 51 years old and looking for a part-time clerical position. I haven’t had much response in sending out my current résumé and I feel it could have something to do with my age and I’m not sure how to “hide it” because I was at one company for 17 years.
I have omitted my first employer from my résumé so I have two jobs listed; one for 17 years and the other for 4. I have not listed any years regarding my education. – Martha
Dear Martha: If you are only presenting 21 years of experience then a reader may assume you are in your early 40s, making your fear of being seen as 10 years older not a concern.
Perhaps it is more than just your chronological age that is dating your candidacy. Take a look at the roles you have included and make sure you are using up-to-date jargon and hard-hitting keywords that position you for what you now want to pursue.
What I find in a lot of résumés is that candidates, when presenting long-term tenure with one employer, often take brevity too far. Be sure you have a nice mix of your roles presented along with, and most important, the value you contributed presented in the form of accomplishment statements.
I hope you are spreading your experience on two pages versus trying to squeeze it all on one, and I also hope you are opening with a strong qualifications summary which “frames” your experience and your candidacy for the reader.
It is really easy to pin a lack of response on a fear of ageism, and while I do understand that it is a rational fear, in your case I think the lack of response is likely due to formatting and content strategies.
Take a look at some résumé samples on my website to confirm you are presenting a document in line with best practices and, once you perhaps revamp a little, I’m sure you will start to hear your phone ring.
Dear Sam: l lost my management job a year ago. Since then, I have held two jobs each lasting six months. I am afraid that I may not be hired by another company, as I am 59 years old. What would you suggest? – Simon
Dear Simon: First, determine an appropriate amount of experience to list on your résumé. Based on the level which you want to pursue, I would imagine that would be between 10 and 15 years.
You may want to omit the earlier of your recent short-term positions — as I am assuming they are not incredibly strong, based on your short tenure — as doing so would not cause a gap when only presenting years and not months of employment.
As your manager position would include many more accomplishments, I would suggest having a “Select Highlights” section on your résumé where your achievements could be previewed on page one of your résumé.
By doing this, you will push your most recent, short-term experience toward the bottom of page one (or the top of page two), ensuring it plays a much less significant role during the screening process.
Once you present a strategic amount of experience (to avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy), highlight your accomplishments up front, and minimize the impact of having moved around twice in one year, you will find you have a strong résumé that will open doors.
Dear Sam: I retired from the DoD with 31 years of service. During those years, I held different positions. At this time, I am trying to find a part-time position, with no luck.
Most of the part-time jobs I have located are for positions similar to what I did more than 10 years ago (or longer). How can I incorporate my older work experience, in my résumé, to be considered for a part-time job now? – Carole
Dear Carole: To avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy, include only your most recent positions with dates you performed each role after your titles, and add a byline to note that you have additional experience with the organization.
You should focus on the past 10 or so years of employment and the related achievements and responsibilities. To incorporate notes about your previous positions, while avoiding presenting years upon years of experience, add a career highlights section to your résumé.
You may want to employ a functional approach to this section if you are trying to highlight certain areas that relate to your current job search. By this, I mean include a career highlights section after your qualifications summary but before your professional experience section.
Within this section, utilize functional subheadings to focus the hiring manager's attention on the experiences within your background that support or enhance your candidacy for what you want to do now.
Here you can highlight achievements and responsibilities related to the positions you held 10+ years ago, without exploring them in detail within the professional experience section.
In the professional experience section, after you hit about the 10-year mark, you can take the byline approach to present additional positions. This is essentially a note stating that you have additional experience within certain positions or arenas. I wish you well.