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Career Success Strategy for Professionals Over 40
Less energy, high health and life insurance costs, higher salary expectations and unwillingness to learn new technology. A recent study released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College indicated many companies have reservations about hiring older workers because of these preconceived notions.
There was a time when age discrimination conjured visual images of men and women nearing the retirement age of 62 and older. However, with the increasing impact of technology advancement, the changing workplace, globalization and economic instability, age discrimination has crept into the lives of working professionals as young as 40. These qualified candidates are finding their job search takes twice as long as their younger counterparts and often they have to settle for a salary decrease or a lower level position.
So if you are over 40 and have been unexpectedly thrust into unemployment, how can you find career success? Overcoming the barriers of age discrimination takes persistence, dedication, a positive attitude and employing this proven strategy.
STRATEGY: DEVELOP AN “AGE-FRIENDLY” RESUME
Your resume plays a vital role in your job search and is one of the primary tools potential employers will use to evaluate your qualifications. While you need to emphasize the breadth of your experience, as an older worker, you want to avoid including information that “ages” you. Here lies the proverbial “catch-22” because if you are targeting senior positions, you need to show an extensive career background, but too much information can make you appear outdated.
Solution A: Encapsulate early experience or positions in a summary paragraph without dates
EARLY CAREER: Commenced industry experience through positions in materials and inventory management for 84 Lumber Company. At pinnacle of early career, managed up to $8 million in materials and supervised staff of eight. Major achievement included the introduction of new shipping practice which increased product delivery time 10% and simultaneously lowered shipping costs more than 25%.
Here’s another example.
EARLY MILITARY: Experience in technical positions requiring expertise and knowledge in systems engineering, broadband networking, and technology planning. Honorable discharge as Lieutenant Colonel from United States Air Force.
Solution B: Remove the dates from your Education section
For degrees completed more than 20 years ago, remove all dates from the Education. Note: If you completed a college degree recently, (within 10 years) you can include the dates; if you have more than one degree completed at different periods of your life, you either exclude all the dates or include all of the dates for sake of consistency.
Solution C: Revise the number of years experience in your profile summary
The following excerpts are from profile summaries for professionals with over 25 years work experience.
1. “Critical-thinking senior manager with true commitment and passion for programs that empower youth and families. Comprehensive leadership and managerial capabilities honed through 15-plus years’ experience in national education and social change organizations.”
2. “Offering 15-plus years’ executive-level leadership and program development expertise in a member-driven, non-profit organization.”
This technique allows you to let reader to know you are experienced without divulging what the “plus” represents.
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Solution D: Bring older achievements to forefront on resume
If you have relevant career achievements that occurred earlier in your career, create a “Career Milestones” or “Career Achievements” section on the first page of your resume. The obvious benefit is you get to take credit for your past work without having to date the resume too far back. See example below:
Public Financing. Raised $50+ million from public investors for biotechnology company valued by aggressively marketing to investors nationwide.
Equity Research and Analysis. Devised and implemented financial models and valuation tools to assess biotechnology and healthcare companies.
Mergers and Acquisitions. Orchestrated successful merger of two start-up companies which maximized financial resources and secured lucrative partnership agreement with larger firm.
Cash/Debt Management. Sustained company operations during six-month period of declining cash resources and escalating debt which exceeding $5 million. Prevented imminent company failure by offering stock options and incentives to vendors and sourcing external financing.
Solution E: Include volunteer, community outreach and extracurricular activities
By showing you are active and have additional interests help to subtly diminish concerns about your vitality and energy level.
Solution E: Highlight current training and technical proficiency
As mentioned earlier, a common misconception about older workers is they are behind in their computer skills or lacking technical proficiency.
Abby M. Locke is a career marketing strategist and brand leadership coach who partners with professional/executive women MBAs and global executives to help them achieve true career mastery and success through cutting-edge, career branded communications, innovative job search campaigns, and proactive career management tools.