Five Tips to Combating Ageism in Hiring, Part 2

In Part 1, I suggested five tips for the “older” job-seeker. In this part, I'll talk about what you can do to craft your resume.

The problem is this: you don't have to be too old to have ageism happen to you. The older people perceive you to be, the more ageism you will encounter. Those of us over 30 hear all kinds of things: dye your hair, leave dates off your resume, trim your beard, etc. You do need to look put together and relevant. But that won't get you in the door. Target networking will help you meet the right people. Your specific value and your resume will open the door to an interview.

You have to believe you have something specific to offer a potential employer. Make a list of what you bring to an organization. That will build your self-esteem. It will also help you articulate what problems you can solve and why. You can use this information as you create your target network.

You might do this with a career line. (I expanded on that post in Manage Your Job Search.) Also, think about what's in Two Career Tools for a Job Search. Be specific about what you bring to an organization. Here are some possibilities:

  • Technical skills. Be specific. Are those skills how you architect or design or test? Are they your familiarity with a specific language or tool? How about a specific domain/industry? Provide examples.
  • Communication skills. Everyone says they communicate well. Are you a whiz at deciphering emails from the far reaches of the world? That's what I mean by specifics and examples. Maybe you facilitate problem-solving meetings. Which ones? What specifically do you do to exhibit great communication skills?
  • The ability to see the consequences in similar situations. If you're a project manager, maybe you understand deliverable-based planning and what happens when people use it and don't use it. You can explain specifics.

I bet you have many other non-technical and technical skills I have not listed. I don't know what you have to offer. With maturity comes experience. Highlight your specific skills and experience in your resume.

Here are five tips for crafting your resume:

  1. Put the dates in your resume. Yes, some people say to leave years off, but come on. Hiring managers and HR people can subtract. Put in the dates. Don't make hiring managers work to figure out what happened in your career.
  2. Highlight what you learned through experience at each recent job. You are selling your experience. How can you highlight that experience and maturity? What specifically did you do at each job that will help people see what you do, why you are good and why they should hire you. Think of this: how did you transform past organizations?
  3. Decide what to remove.Many hiring managers do not read long resumes. Keep your resume to two pages. Once I hit 30 years of work, I referenced where I worked for the first ten years: “Worked as a software developer/project manager at these Boston-area companies.” That allowed me to keep my resume to 2 pages and highlighted my more recent experience.
  4. Show workshops/other education that is more recent than your degree. I don't know how you feel about your degree, but my Master's is over 30 years old. No one will hire me based on the technical work I did then. However, they might hire me based on the classes and workshops I teach. It's the same thing for classes and workshops you take.
  5. Highlight the list of technical skills in your resume. (Dwayne said in the comment on Part 1.) I prefer them at the back of the resume. Maybe the front as Dwayne says is better.

You, as an older person, need to get past the ATS (Applicant Tracking System). The problem is that unseasoned hiring managers and HR believe they can identify “all” the skills a candidate needs in an ATS. They can't. But, they believe this. Your job is to determine what to put on your resume so you look as if you are a valid candidate for the job.

2 thoughts on “Five Tips to Combating Ageism in Hiring, Part 2”

  1. Great stuff, and the takeaway for me is to summarize the early experience in a line or two and remove the specifics (duties, accomplishment, companies). At this point, I guess that experience isn’t very relevant anyway.

    But it seems to me that the best way to get past the ATS is to network in to someone who can hire you. I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the world, but in the market where I work our thriving software development community is small enough that it’s usually one or two hops for me to network myself in front of someone I want to talk to. It took me a long time to build the courage to do that, but it’s paid off. It’s a lot of how I got my current job, actually, where I’m old enough to be the dad of every engineer here.

    1. Jim, you have described exactly how you use loose connections to get to your target network. See The Power of a Loose Connection. (I already linked a couple of times to the target network post.)

      “old enough to be the dad…” How funny! Yes, when I turned 45, I realized I was old enough to be a parent for the people with whom I worked. It got worse at 50 🙂

      The piece about experience: I still find it difficult to prune. I still need to think to myself, “Does the experience from x number of years ago help me in any way?” x can range from 20-35 at this point, for me.

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