A resume is more than a listing of skills–it is your advertisement to the decision makers who receive it. The language you use paints a picture of what you offer to your potential employer. A good resume emphasizes selling points and downplays negatives.
One issue for potential employees is how their age will be seen. If you are older, some employers may see your age as a negative.
Some experts say age discrimination against older workers can start as early as age 35. You don’t need to lose a position because a company buys into stereotypes about age. Here are a few ways to help an employer see the benefits of hiring you because of the benefits that come with life experience.
1. Make sure you know your age is a benefit.
You will have a hard time projecting confidence if you see your age as a problem. If you are on the older end of the spectrum, remember you have experience. If you are job-hunting within your industry, you have knowledge of trends you’ve seen come and go, what standards are expected, and what improvements are most needed in a field. If you are going into a new industry, you have the life experience to know what is expected in a work environment. You have probably developed more people and management skills than your younger co-workers. You also have skills from your old position that will translate well into a new field–if you look at your experience with a dash of creativity. You are an asset to a company because you’ve been around long enough to have the benefit of experience and maturity on your side.
2. Use subtle techniques to fight stereotypes.
Older workers are unfairly stereotyped as slow, behind the times in technology, and likely to have health problems. Make your resume ageism-proof by listing your continuing education and certifications. Mention hobbies or experiences you have, especially if you are physically active. Be sure you have your social media links up-to-date and looking sharp–including setting your privacy settings so your potential employers can only see the things you want them to see. Don’t have any social media links? Set up a LinkedIn, Facebook, and InstaGram account and tailor them to the jobs you want.
3. Express your individual attributes.
Your resume should be about what YOU offer an employer that is unique. Look over your skills. There are some things people expect to see as a baseline for a given position, and you must include those items. But if you have unusual skills or experiences that are sought-after in your field, be sure to highlight them.
Do you speak more than one language? Be sure to mention that, especially if you’ve used the language in a work or sales setting. Have you traveled to an area important to your industry? An archeologist who travels extensively to major historic sites or a music teacher who grew up in New Orleans or Vienna or another music hub should publicize that fact.
Do you have certifications that are rare? If you are one of the first ones to embrace a new industry, or have credentials for technology that is extensively used but not taught now, you have a marketable asset. Use it to your advantage.
4. Avoid obvious give-aways to your age.
If ageism is of concern to you, make it a little harder to be dismissed out of hand. Don’t put years on your resume, especially not on college degrees that are decades old. Weigh the pros and cons of listing interests that give away your age if you are concerned–being a spokesperson for a retired person’s group can either be an important experience showing your community spirit or an unwanted clue to your age. You can weigh the other items in your resume, and how impressive or important you find the information, and decide what to include and what to leave behind.
You get to choose how you present yourself in a resume. When you are preparing one, try to step into the employer’s shoes and create a resume that makes you shine.
Teresa Y Green is a writer from Ashland, VA. Her company offers resume preparation, LinkedIn profile writing, and other writing services.
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