Back in the job market for an executive role? You may have encountered (or wondered about) potential age discrimination when putting yourself “out there” for an executive job search.
If you find yourself experiencing rejection in your job applications, the possibility of age discrimination may seem all too real.
Yet, it’s possible that you’re actually CALLING attention to your age – more so that your leadership qualifications.
Bottom-line, focusing on your executive brand will make the biggest difference to employers. This is particularly true if your work history includes the leadership skills valued in today’s market, such as cost control, team leadership, fiscal stewardship, contract negotiations, and technology expertise.
Consider these 5 ways to get a better reception from employers – and create an “age-proof” executive resume and LinkedIn Profile – if you believe age is working against you: (more…)
Every week, I get requests for résumé reviews from candidates who can’t figure out what is holding them back from landing interviews. In many cases, these job hunters are inadvertently highlighting their age on the résumé—all while hoping that employers will focus on something else.
If you think you might be screened out of the running for choice jobs due to your age, read on for some common scenarios that are easily prevented with a few changes to your résumé (even if you’re in your 60’s!):
Cut to the chase on your career history. Does any employer really care what you did 25 years ago? Most hiring managers want to see fresh experience, and consider achievements from the past 10-15 years to be most relevant. Even leadership résumés, while showing much-needed progression up the career ladder, should be focused on what you’ve achieved lately.
If you just can’t let go of that Bank President title from the 80’s, add it (without dates) in a one-liner at the end of your professional history.
Are numbers hurting your chances? Is your best accomplishment mere survival? It can look that way if you begin a résumé summary with “…over 23 years in the banking industry…”.
Your strongest qualifications are better demonstrated by describing achievements that generated profits, cut bottom-line costs, or retained customers—instead of focusing on longetivity.
Just the facts…please. The date of every degree program is NOT necessarily positive, enticing fodder for your résumé. Is it really pertinent that your MBA was completed 18 years ago? Will showing an engineering degree from the 1970’s actually help—or does it kill your chances?
Most employers requiring a degree focus mainly on the program itself, with less emphasis on the graduation date. Cut the date, but keep the degree.
Don’t make employers read a book. If your strategy for updating your résumé throughout the years was to just add your latest job, and then add the next, and the next… it’s time to stop.
Hiring authorities don’t have the time to wade through pages of your career to find out the relevance to their needs. Summarize your credentials up front, and then chop—ruthlessly—from the back, until you’ve narrowed it to 2 or 3 pages.
Everything else has changed… so should your résumé format. The Internet age has dawned…should you still be using a font that looks as if it were produced on a typewriter?
As I’ve emphasized before, the most compelling résumés are actually marketing documents. Therefore, they deserve BETTER than a stock template or a dull list of job duties.
In other words, presentation really IS everything! To be considered for a leadership role, use an attractive, well-formatted document reflective of your value proposition, plus the results you can deliver.
Remember, employers are in constant need of industry knowledge, consistent results, and flexibility from their employees, especially in today’s culture of constant change and economic turmoil. Market qualifications, not age, as you advance your career to the next level—and reap the benefits of your well-earned expertise by gaining more attention from hiring authorities.
You might be aware that age discrimination in the job search has increasingly become evident, but what can you do to combat it when writing a resume?
In my practice, I usually find that professionals encountering age bias are also encouraging it by providing blistering detail on every job since college. A few simple rules for marketing yourself can help to avoid this pitfall and position yourself more strongly:
Remember that employers are interested in what you have done lately. It is perfectly acceptable to delineate the past 10-15 years of your experience, and sum up the rest without dates. Of course, this is another way to keep your resume to a readable length.
Be cautious when using your years of experience as a qualification. Stating that you have “over 25 years of experience…” can date your expertise and imply that you have not learned anything new! In addition, it limits the ability of the resume to speak to your skill level.
Ensure that dates are used to your advantage. For example, a good rule of thumb is to omit the graduation date on any degree older than 10 years.
I am a huge fan of prominently displayed achievements, core strengths, and contributions, in lieu of dates, for an effective resume. After, all this gives you the best opportunity to focus on your key skills, rather than on your age!
This Forbes article on The ‘Young Boss, Older Employee’ Dilemma presents some interesting points on managing this situation, from both the management and worker standpoints.
The author, Tara Weiss, notes that while this issue has always been at play in the workplace, the divide between aging workers (who have increased substantially in volume) and Gen X/Y has made the divide stand out more sharply than in decades past.
Get ready for the results you want in your executive job search!
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