Job Seekers Over 50

Resumes For Job Seekers Over 50

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While job seekers over 50 years old may have more knowledge and experience in the workplace, that has not helped them come out of the unemployment market any faster.

There are various reasons why an older worker faces a greater challenge securing a job in today’s market than one who is younger. It may include higher pay requirements or because employers view older workers as less competitive with outdated experience and skills.

Resumes For Job Seekers Over 50 Need…

The way your resume is crafted can quickly reveal to an employer your age or signal to an employer you are not current with today’s competitive workplace. The following are sure fire signs to an employer about your age and outdated skills and experience you may have.

1. Contact Details

Every resume is complete with contact information such as your name, address and mode of communication. However, when you list a fax number (rarely will an employer contact you by fax) or e-mail address that indicates digits that can signify a year, such as “molly55@… ” it can signal to an employer you are from the old-school. Some employers consider @aol.com e-mails as old school

Tip: Keep your contact information on your resume simple. Stick to one phone number and a professional e-mail address that may simply be your name. Also, do not label “Phone” or “E-mail” on your resume; that is obvious.

2. Education

Your education can be particularly important to an employer depending on the type of organization and position you are applying for. While you should list degree(s) obtained, do not include the year it was obtained. Simple mathematics can tell the employer how old you are.

Tip: Include the degree you obtained for a particular study, institution attended and the city and state of the institution. Leave out the date of attendance and when you obtained your degree. That information can be supplied to an employer if it is needed later on.

Also, keep in mind that your education becomes less of a highlight on the resume for most employers when you have five or more professional year of experience in the particular field. This should be on the lower part of your resume.

3. Experience

Having 30+ years of experience in the workforce can be valuable and impressive to an employer, but it can also come off negatively on your resume if the information is not presented and laid out effectively. Most employers focus on the most recent five years of experience so if you have experience that dates back to 20 years ago, it may do you more harm than good, especially if it is irrelevant to the position you are applying for.

An employer does not need to know you worked at McDonald’s 20 years ago as a cashier if you are applying for a job related to business development in pharmaceuticals or an entirely different field.

Tip: Even if you have over 25 years of experience, just summarize that as “Over 15 years.” Focus on the most recent 5 to 10 years of work experience particularly relevant to the job you are applying for. If you have other experience that is relevant past that time, include it to a separate category you can call “Other Experiences” on your resume where you can summarize the experience without giving dates.

4. Technical Skills

Technical skills should be specific to the field, such as unique programs and applications for the profession. Listing programs such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint will not impress employers; these have become standard programs in most workplaces where employers expect employees to know them – and to use them well. Do not list skills that are outdated; listing dBase3 immediately shows your age.

Tip: Do not include a section on technical skills to your resume unless it is unique to the field, such as a graphic design program for designers or SAP for accounting and finance. Also if you do list any technical skills, help the employer understand how adept you are by highlighting what you have done and achieved with it.

A resume shouting out your age or years of experience is not going to help you secure a job in today’s market. You need a resume that demonstrates you are effective and have achieved results in “recent years” that can be applied to the position you are applying for. Demonstrate to employers you are current, up-to-date with today’s approaches and a candidate that can achieve results by demonstrating accomplishments from recent employment.

Remember, the “outcomes” are what matter most at the end of the day.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Don Goodman

Don Goodman, President of Best Resume Writing Service - About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert. Get a free career assessment from Don here.

11 comments

  1. Mr. Goodman,
    Thanks, and like most of the other commentators/replies I appreciate your article. I am 49 years of age, and graduated from Florida A&M ( undergrad) and NYU (grad). I have a pretty diverse professional background. My questions are: what if my most relevant / impressive experience ( for what I am looking to do now) is beyond that 5 year window? I often highlight that (beyond the “5-year”) experience in the cover letter, any thoughts? ( Also, does if it matter that I have kept my resume to two pages?)

  2. Many prospective employees, of all ages, SAY they are proficient in Word, PowerPoint or Excel when in fact they are not. Employers should not be dismissive of older workers who demonstrate that their computer skills are up-to-date.

  3. Good overview. I’d like to add that depending upon the industry and occupation, the ability to communicate via “smart phone” and knowledge of social media may be crucial in not only qualifying for a job, but leaving an impression of being able to integrate with colleagues.

  4. If age is an issue, then just shoot me! It is going to be very obvious when you arrive for the interview and have grey hair! Beside dying one’s hair, there must be a better way of presenting yourself to an employer if and when you get an interview. I agree and updated resume is good, but what about your appearance?

  5. With today’s longevity rates many employers realize the benefit of “experience”. Since I turned 50 my motto has been this: It’s only a number unless it’s cash.I’m sticking with it

  6. This is all very good advice but at 57 years old I do not think my chances are good at all in any case. I have a lot of experience in many areas but no degrees or certifications to show for my years of hard work and everything I have learned along the way. And even though I keep up with the latest trends in areas that feel could offer me employment opportunities the lack of credentials is a huge barrier. Besides that, no one wants to hire an old fat guy when they can hire young energetic good looking applicants.

  7. Miste Anders-Clemons

    Well done. I especially like the points of the aol.com email, which I was unaware of, and the reiteration of so many other points that I also share with job seekers. It is so nice to know I e is on the same wavelength with others in the filed. Thank you. I also refer job seekers to this website constantly due to the valuable information share.

  8. I was in one industry and transitioned into a current industry. The last major position I had in my first industry had very powerful accomplishments with problem solving results. I am using this on my resume to bolster my value and accomplishments. This was from 1984-1999. Can I get away using this on my resume? If not, what do you suggest? Thank you.

  9. I’m 49, and I’m glad someone has addressed some of the issues someone ‘long in the tooth’ is facing. I already cut off my experience at 1998, even though I graduated college 10 years prior. However, isn’t the omission of a graduation date a red flag in itself?

    While I’m sure that this article was well-intentioned, it demonstrates the latent discrimination employers have toward older applicants. Leaving off information that hints at your age is no different than information that hints at your race.

    I can imagine a well-qualified African-American applicant with an undergraduate degree from Florida A & M or Howard and an MBA degree from, say Michigan being told by a recruiter, “uh, better leave the undergrad information off, we don’t want to highlight the fact you are actually black”.

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