Awhile back I wrote a post titled "Is it Age Discrimination, or Are You an Angry Old Fart?" In it, I talked about how some older job candidates blame their lack of job search success on age discrimination, when really it's their bad attitudes and/or bad resumes that keep them from getting hired.
Well, this week I heard a story from a hiring manager who's looking to hire someone with top-notch technical skills to head up a department. One of the applicants was over 60, but his resume made it clear he's kept up with the latest technologies. This story seemed like a perfect illustration of how a job candidate can be somewhat old, but not be an old fart.
Here's what the hiring manager (who's 40-ish) told me about this candidate:
"I got a resume from a candidate who had graduated from college the year I was born. My initial reflex was, 'No way.' But I caught myself, and consciously pushed that thinking aside. As I kept reading, I found that the resume was actually very impressive. He was the [executive-level job title] at [a major tech company] for many years, but got laid off in April. Unlike a lot of older candidates, he had the sense to delete outdated skills and experience. Some people list software or technologies from 20 years ago that don't even exist anymore! Why would I care about that? This guy only listed his most current and relevant technical skills, and tied in his experience with our business needs. He sounded pretty good."
The lesson here is twofold:
- Age-related stereotypes are a fact of life, and
- You can avoid triggering those stereotypes by building a resume that emphasizes your credentials, not your age.
Give Your Resume a Facelift
As a recent article in the AARP bulletin pointed out, "...some older adults are sabotaging their prospects by making common mistakes.... Instead of analyzing their skills, abilities and preferences and realistically assessing the job market, they're relying on their long resumes to make their case to employers."
That's an important tip for older candidates: edit your resume. If the candidate mentioned above had simply left out his year of graduation, the hiring manager's first impression might have been, "Wow, this guy has solid X and Y experience!" rather than "Wow, this guy graduated the year I was born!"
Your skills need to be rejuvenated, too. Sorry, but no one's impressed anymore by your ability to type 70 wpm on an IBM Selectric or fix a Tandy PC. Shorten your lengthy resume by eliminating jobs from more than 10 or 15 years ago.
In the end, there are many factors that go into a hiring decision. Some cultures and some industries are more age-diverse than others. You can't change your age, but you can change your resume and your attitude to show employers you're not stuck in the past, set in your ways, or any of those other clichés.
As for the candidate above? I don't know whether he's still in the running, but at least he didn't sabotage his chances from the get-go by submitting a geezer-ish resume.
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