Your Resume is Not a Slab of Meat and Does NOT Get Better with Age

danny-0509Tips for Maintaining an Attractive Resume for Experienced Workers

This blog goes out to a special group of people that I like to refer to as “experienced workers”. No, no, no…you’re not old, but you may have been on the job market for 5, 10, 20 or more years and now have a resume with some depth.

For those of you with some tenure on your resume, good for you! Working is a good thing. However, you may have run across some barriers in your job search (some of which you may not have even known were there!) because of your experience.

What am I talking about? From an employer’s perspective, people with more experience can be a great thing – they are knowledgeable, have a proven track record, often have demonstrated loyalty with a company, et cetera. However, I’m sure you’ve also heard that more experienced workers present some challenges. At the forefront of many employers’ minds in this economic state are the costs of new employees. Those with more experience often cost more money. While some employers may not mind shelling out extra bucks for the right person, some would rather train a newbie to learn their new tricks for less. Additionally, some employers view experience as a roadblock for willingness to acquire new skills. Sure, you may know how to do that, but you may not be able (or willing) to do that our way.

There are other challenges that might come to mind. But, I’d rather look at your resume and help you prevent putting experience and age out there in a detrimental manner.

Don’t date yourself
First, while I know you’re proud of graduating from Okanowee High in 1979 and State of Texas U. in 1982, I can pretty much guess you’re about 47-50 years old from this inclusion. So, graduation year is not as important as your degree and skill sets. More important is to demonstrate how you’ve upgraded and maintained current skills. While we all work hard for our education, highlight what you learned not when you learned it.

Highlight experience, not years
Next, I’ll use a little example. I spoke to a job seeker once about her resume and I loved the format: great objective statement, one page concise format listing relevant skills, and dynamic language. However, it was hard for me to get past a tagline she had under her name at the top of the page – “44 quality years as a telecommunications expert”. I see the pride in the statement, but it might also be undermining her goals. Let’s assume my job seeker started working immediately at age 16 because she’s just a go-getter. Her age is AT LEAST 60.

Are you really an expert?
As an employer, I see this job seeker as near retirement age and potentially not worth the investment to hire. I also see that she considers herself an expert in telecommunications. Over the last 44 years, much has happened in the field and, at least to me, the word expert tells me you know a heck of a lot about that change. If she does, fantastic! She should be aiming for the six-figure jobs we all desire. However, I’d rather see the skills and knowledge she has to consider herself an expert. Even better – I’d like to see those skills that directly apply to the job for which she is applying.

Ten years is usually sufficient
Finally, here’s the easiest item to check. A general rule of thumb is that your work history should only go 10 years back. Let’s say you worked in retail sales 11 years ago and then worked as a legal clerk for the next 10 years. Now, you want to apply for a retail sales job again. While you have prior experience, the experience is over 10 years old. Think about your job functions 10 years ago and how the process may have changed. Did you ask for customer e-mail addresses and type them in a computer application? Did you carry a wireless scanner around to recode sale items? So, in short, your skills acquired then may now be dated. If you’ve had one employer in the last 15 years, hopefully you can demonstrate some job growth by listing different occupations and increased responsibility. In this case, it would be okay to list all 15 years. But, again make sure that all your inclusions are current and relevant to the job you seek now.

Go over your resume with a fine-tooth comb (or wireless electric razor) and look for items that unnecessarily sell your “age” in the workforce. While employers should not discriminate based on age, if you put it out there, they can easily move your resume to the NO stack and you’ll never know why. Why give them the opportunity?

Danny Zendejas is the Hospitality Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in the hospitality industry and workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.



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