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Concerns mature candidates face

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Modified: September 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm •  Published: September 14, 2012

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.

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