The contribution we have delivered during our career is one of the things we are usually very proud of and it can often span decades of time. When we prepare our resume we want the people who review it to see that we have value add and expertise in our field – part of our Personal Branding efforts. On the flip side, one of the things that many people worry about is ‘age bias’ or being age-typed by their resume. This is a true concern and one that you actually do have some power over in most circumstances.
Here are some tips on how “not” to scream out your age with your resume:
1. Do not over-share: What I mean by this is that often times when I’m reviewing a client’s initial resume the very first sentence says “Over 20 years’ experience…” How does this sound to you right now? Let’s do some quick math. If someone has over 20 years of experience and we do basic adding (i.e.; graduated from college around 23, went to work right away and now has over 20 years of experience – that would put the person in their mid-40’s…give or take a couple years). My point here is that it is quick to figure your age if you blast out decades of experience and that is not what you want the first few words of your resume to do. You must keep the reader interested in your expertise and not give them an immediate mathematical formula to deduce your age. After all, how many job descriptions do you see that want “20+ years’ of experience” in their requirements. Nearly ‘zero’. So, focus on the employer’s needs and leave out excessive years of experience.
2. Leave off “References Available Upon Request”: This is very out dated terminology and is already ‘assumed’ by the employer. Who refuses to provide an employer with references? Only someone who clearly does not want the job. Instead, have your references documented and carry them with you to your interview in the event the employer does ask you will have them on hand.
3. One size fits all: Creating one resume and sending the same to each employer is a dream from the past. It’s nice for you because there is not as much work – after all, you get to send the same resume out for every opening you apply for. You think you’re doing a good job at applying for so many positions, but your resume is getting lost in a long line of ‘one-sizers’. In today’s marketplace, to stand out you must create a targeted resume that will speak to each particular employer’s needs. The cover letter must also do the same. If you want to get a jump on the competition put ‘position targeting’ at the top of your resume writing list. And if you’re working with a resume writer who is trying to create a ‘one size fits all’ for you… RUN!
4. Degree Dates: In three words…”leave them off”. Unless you received your degree in the past few years you should not list the dates of your education (I refer you back to the formula in tip 1). And please – unless you’re a very recent high school graduate leave your high school off completely. If you do not have a college education it is best to list your training and/or certifications in this section. Again, unless they are recent you can leave the dates off.