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Deborah Walker

Hey Baby Boomers: Today's Job Market Has a Few New Rules

Make sure your résumé doesn’t leave your desktop, laptop or PDA without following them.

December 15, 2011
by Deborah Walker, CCMC

The most common concern among job seekers over 50 is that their résumé tends to date them. While it's true that with you become wiser as you age, it is also true that securing a great new job becomes challenging after a certain age. If you are a member of the baby boomer generation you'll want to take note of the following three résumé rules.

Rule #1: Don't make it a history lesson.

One sure way to date yourself is to take your résumé all the way back to your first job out of college. That type of ancient history only serves to give a time line to your age. Worse yet, it may show a zigzag career path that leaves the reader wondering how you arrived at your current career destination.

When deciding how far back in your career history to go, think in terms of relevancy rather than years. As a general rule, go back only as far as it relates to your current career objective. There are a few exceptions to the rule:

  1. If your current career path is five years or fewer, you'll need to show some years prior. Otherwise the recruiter or hiring manger will wonder where you came from and how you got there; and
  2. If you are returning to a previous career path and wish to show the experience. In that case you'll want to use the hybrid résumé format to allow your most relevant accomplishments up at the top of your résumé.

Rule #2: Get rid of ancient technology.

Another way your résumé says “old codger” is by your choice of technology information. Selling your skills with outdated technology is as ineffective as an ad for buggy whips. It tells the reader that you are living in the past rather than solving today's problems with today's technology.

One way to weed out your résumé of old technology is to test your résumé against current job postings. Compare the needed technology skills with what your résumé lists. Delete what is no longer current. If you find gaps look around for ways to bring your skills up to date. Professional associations often provide certifications and special training to help bring you up to date.

Rule #3: Make the present as alluring as the past.

The worst résumé error for post-50 job seekers is when their chronological résumé shows all the best accomplishments in earlier employment entries. Nothing says “has been” like accomplishments that don't show up until page two or three. If your résumé has no accomplishments illustrated for the most current five years the reader has no choice but to conclude you are an “over the hill” worker with no ambition left. No employer wants to hire deadwood.

Résumé Makeover

Given the downward trend of business over the past several years, lack of résumé accomplishments is a common problem. None the less, make all effort to include accomplishments in your most recent years even if you feel that your best years were pre-2001. Think in terms of problems that you have solved, costs that you have cut, man-hours you have saved and clients you have retained.

Another way to get accomplishments on page one is with a hybrid résumé format that allows you to create a highlight of accomplishments section at the top of page one.

Conclusion

Age discrimination may be against the law, but we all know that it takes place. Don't let your résumé stop you from interviewing for your next job. Make sure your résumé draws attention to your skills, abilities and accomplishment rather than your age. Let your success stories show how you can solve today's critical business problems.

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Deborah Walker, CCMC is a Career Coach helping job seekers compete in the toughest economy. Her clients gain top performing skills in resume writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation. Read more job-search tips here.