By Arto Baltayan (moneycrashers.com) –
Looking for employment when you are over 50 years of age can be a humbling experience. Although you have amassed a lifetime of knowledge in your profession, it can feel like you have two strikes against you.
Age bias is something very difficult to prove, and focusing on it can be extremely counterproductive – therefore, rather than becoming angry or depressed, take the proactive route and do something about it. With a few changes to your approach, resume, social media presence, and self-image, you can make yourself the front-runner, even among younger candidates.
2. Update Your Old Resume
The mechanics of the modern resume have changed somewhat in the last several decades. The biggest changes are due to the lack of time on the part of the reader, which has resulted in shortened resumes with information presented in a more succinct manner. Therefore, if you have not sent out a resume recently, it may be time to modernize it.
Modernizing Your Resume
Although the details of an effective, modern resume can vary from person to person, the basics are fairly straightforward:
- Length. Keep it as short as possible, no more than one or two pages. Employers receive and skim hundreds of resumes, so the easier you make it for them to quickly get to the important information, the more likely your resume will make the final cut.
- Style. Use common fonts like Times New Roman, and do not use colors. Also, avoid using graphics or images. Unless you are applying for a position where arts skills are valued (such as a graphic artist), stick to a conservative style.
- Bullet Points. Avoid long paragraphs by organizing your information in bullet points whenever possible. Again, this helps the employer quickly scan for relevant information.
- White Space. Be sure to leave spaces between blocks of text, and format your resume evenly. This gives it the look of a professional document and makes it easier on the employer’s eyes.
Many professional resume samples are available online. For example, Monster.com features information on making a pleasing, modern resume.
Making Your Resume Age-Neutral
You do not want your resume to be passed over because the employer has a stereotypical view of mature employees. Making your resume age-neutral can ensure that you are not disqualified by misconceptions before the interview has even taken place.
- Do Not Include Dates of Milestones. Remove your date of birth if you have not already done so. Also, take out any dates that signify milestones unless completed in the last 10 years. Your graduation date or the date you received a professional certificate can be a tip-off as to your age.
- Eliminate Older Work Experience. You cannot remove the dates from your individual job entries, but there is something you can do to draw the attention away from your age: Focus on the positions you have held in the last 10 years only, eliminating positions you have held at earlier dates. If some of your earlier jobs are crucial to what you will be applying for, include them in as skills in your “summary” section, where a date is not necessary.
- Don’t Give Too Much Information. Be selective with what you include in your resume, especially regarding clues that might hint at your age. For example, dated words no longer frequently used in your profession are a dead giveaway.
As a final step, reread your resume with an employer’s eye, scrutinizing everything you have written, not just the dates. Make sure there is nothing that will hint at your age, giving the employer a chance to pass on you without even meeting for an interview.
Also, to get maximum exposure, post your resume online. With job sites such as Monster.com, Indeed, CareerBuilder, and even Craigslist, you can post your resume for free and make it searchable so that recruiters and employers can find you based on your skills.
5. Create a Professional Network
In the past, the size and scope of the hidden job market was not very clear. It has always been very difficult to gauge exactly how employers fill open positions. Many written articles state that 80% of all jobs are filled without ever being advertised.
A report by CareerXroads takes a closer look. The most important findings from this report are that 41% of employers fill open positions from current employees, and about 20% of employers fill open positions via employee referrals. That’s less than 80%, but still an extremely significant number. Considering these statistics, cultivating an effective professional network is a good way to tap into the hidden job market. You may be surprised at how easy it can be to set up your own network of contacts.
Leverage Friends Into a Professional Network
The easiest way to start creating a professional network is to identify the people with whom you have an existing relationship. Good candidates include family, friends, past and present coworkers, previous employers, neighbors, old professors, and college friends. You may be surprised at the job leads you can get just by chatting with a neighbor. These acquaintances can be a goldmine for finding work.
There are a number of ways to keep track of and leverage your professional network. Keep a list of names on an old-fashioned Rolodex, or simply add contacts to your Facebook friends list. Ask questions, listen, and let people know about your job search – this is key to obtaining information that can turn into a job lead.
There are many different ways you can grow your existing network. Social media sites, trade shows, conferences, and online bulletin boards (like the forums at Indeed.com) are good places to make connections by joining conversations with people in your area of expertise.