Protect your data
Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina
If you’re a professional with 25 or more years of work experience, follow these guidelines to build an “ageless” resume that puts the focus on your invaluable skills and experience. Up the odds of getting noticed by creating a resume that describes your rich experiences and shows how you’re up to date on modern work practices.
If you’re a middle-aged or senior professional with more than 25 years of work experience, you can run into frustrating scenarios where hiring managers turn down your job application because they think you’re “too old” for the position.
To bypass this glass ceiling of ageism, it’s vital to design resumes that honestly describe the richness of your work experience without fueling any unconscious/conscious bias in potential employers.
To create professional resumes that present your decades of experiences as an unvarnished asset, follow the tips and tricks we’ll present in this article.
Don’t list the start dates of old jobs in your resume.
Focus on describing jobs from your last 10 years of employment.
Draw attention to the more modern skills you know.
Add links to job board website profiles and/or online portfolios.
Don’t add professional references to your resume.
These are five effective ways to ensure your resume focuses on your skills and not your age.
There are lots of ways to keep your resume from being discarded due to age-related bias. The simplest, most direct of these methods is just deleting most, if not all, of the start and end dates from your resume. After all, the most important parts of your previous careers are the skills you mastered and the feats you accomplished.
A functional or portfolio resume format might work best in this situation.
According to this CNBC news article, more senior Americans than ever before are choosing to defer retirement or return to the workplace, while many companies are seeking out older employees for their experience and professional maturity. At the same time, 78% of interviewed older workers said they experienced age discrimination in their workplaces.
It’s also generally best to not say when you attended an educational institution or how long you studied there. If you state you earned a Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree or Doctorate from a college or university, hiring managers will know that you studied for several years and achieved satisfactory grades.
There’s one other reason to downplay or excise the start/end dates of your past jobs. If there was a time in your career history where you hopped between multiple jobs in quick succession, employers might assume that you were a flighty or unreliable employee. To avoid this, either explain the reasons behind your employment gaps in your resume or simply avoid mentioning how long you worked at each position.
When you do describe the start and end points of your past positions, only include dates for the jobs you held within the last 10 years. If you still want to list jobs from before this 10 year mark, add an “Additional Experiences” section right below your resume’s “Career Experience” section to list your old job titles, the names of companies you worked for, and nothing else.
If your Resume’s “Additional Experiences” section is bare-bones, then your resume’s “Career Experience” section should be lush with detail. Describe the core tasks of your positions and the skills you’ve used to complete them. Talk about your relationships with the employees you led, worked with, and worked under. Sum up the professional virtues you brought to these positions and how the company you worked for benefited from them.
Template for a job description in your Resume’s “Career Experience” section:
[Job Name], [Company Name], [Work Location], [Start Date] – [End Date]
[Write a sentence that describes your day-to-day responsibilities in this position]. [Write a sentence that describes the colleagues you worked with most closely, and what you accomplished together]. [Write a sentence about problems you solved and ways you improved the business during your time working there].
- [Describe your first special accomplishment here].
- [Describe your second special accomplishment here].
To show hiring managers that you’re familiar and experienced with modern workplaces, make sure your resume mentions the modern or impressive hard/soft skills you’ve mastered. Additionally, skills such as typing speed or email composition can make your resume sound out of date and should probably be removed.
Most office-type businesses expect employees to be familiar with software like Microsoft Office applications or Zoom-style communication platforms. If you want to discuss these proficiencies, place them in a “Technology” section near the end of your Resume and connect them to a specialized work activity – “organizing virtual meetings via Zoom and Google Meet,” for example.
Many data-processing businesses are eager to hire employees who know modern programming languages such as Python or C++. Similarly, companies looking for advertising professionals will like applicants who know how to promote ideas on social media and understand principles such as Search Engine Optimization. Finally, businesses looking for website or application designers will always appreciate a job-seeker who understands User Experience design principles and coding languages.
List skills like the ones mentioned above on your resume, and would-be employers will know you can thrive in the most cutting-edge work environments.
If you’re not sure what modern skills should go in your resume’s cover letter, study the descriptions of the jobs you’re going to apply for. Often, these job descriptions will have a bullet-point list of modern skill terms you can copy and add to your resume. These terms also act as keywords that can be scanned by a company’s applicant tracking software, improving your chances of being noticed and invited to an interview.
Most contemporary resume templates have a header section where applicants can include an embedded link for their profiles on LinkedIn or other job board websites. Alternatively, you can include a link to a personal website or a professional portfolio hosted on Dropbox or Google Drive.
By adding these kinds of links, you can make your resume document stand out, have it feel more modern, and give hiring managers access to extra information about your career history. That said, any website or document you link should be regularly updated – literally just as often as your resume is.
Include these embedded links in your resume:
- LinkedIn profiles
- Portfolio documents
- Portfolio websites
Include these embedded links in your resume:
- Social media profiles
- The websites of companies you once worked at
If you’re sending an electronic file of your resume to a company’s HR department, make sure the specific file format you use is something hiring managers can read on their computers.
Ideally, your resume document should be in the “.doc” and “.docx” formats popularized by Microsoft Word or the “.pdf” format popularized by Adobe. Avoid formats like “.odt” or “.text” when submitting professional resumes.
A few decades back, most career advice guides told resume writers to add a section with contact information for their professional references. With the advent of the internet, however, people grew more concerned about keeping their contact information out of the hands of random strangers.
For this reason, don’t list references in your professional resume unless the job opening you’re pursuing specifically requests it. Naturally, any professional reference contact information you include in your resume should only be listed with the express permission of the boss, teacher, or colleague you approached.
Older job seekers can get past workplace ageism by employing some specific techniques in their resumes.
Don’t mention the start dates of any job or educational program older than 10 years, and describe your most recent jobs in rich detail.
Talk about modern work skills such as computer programming or organizing virtual meetings. Don’t talk about outmoded skills such as using word processor programs.
Add links to job profile pages or portfolio documents in your resume’s header.
Keep your resume and any linked information sources constantly up to date.
With rare exceptions, don’t list professional references in your modern resumes.