Here are 5 simple ways to package yourself, without overtly showing your age.
1. Pay Attention to the Little Things in your Resume.
Review your contact information to ensure that it is in the format most commonly used today. As of 2018, only about 40% of Americans had a landline phone, with most of those people being older Americans. Including a home phone number in addition to your cell phone number on your resume can age you because of this. Do you use an AOL or maybe a Hotmail email address? These email domains are considered to be originals, you know… from the nineties. While having an outdated email address won't necessarily eliminate you as a candidate for a position, it very well may give away your age. Don’t forget to include your LinkedIn URL. If you don’t have one, don’t worry we will talk about that further down. The next thing you want to review is your work history. Try to go back only about 10-15 years for most mid-level to senior level positions. Anything older than that can be seen as outdated information. If you have a solid work history that does show progression, and you want to include this, I recommend altering your resume format. Try listing out all your key achievements and accomplishments above your traditional work history. This draws the eye to what instead of who. Finally, remove the dates next to your education. This does not mean remove all dates from your resume; you still need to include dates of employment.
2. Focus on your Skills and Abilities.
Are you certified or licensed in anything? Ask yourself, is this a requirement for the job I am seeking? If so, make sure that everything is up-to-date, unexpired, and currently used within the industry. Any certifications or licenses that are expired, or that are not relevant to the industry you work in, should be removed from your resume. Having a certification that expired in 2008, and wasn’t renewed, does not enhance your ability in that area. You can show that you have this expertise in the Skills or Technical Skills section of your resume, without using the outdated certification. If you are in the process of renewing your certification or obtaining a certification altogether, you can list that certification with “expected completion July 2019”.
3. Create a Social Media Presence.
Creating a social media presence doesn’t just mean Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. It also includes LinkedIn. LinkedIn is similar to Facebook but, instead of being centered around your personal life, focuses on your career and/or career aspirations. This is a place where you can network with like-minded individuals, connect and follow companies, people, positions -- you name it and there is probably an option for it. It is especially helpful to have when you are switching career fields, beginning to look for a new job, or building your business. Creating a LinkedIn profile is the first step, the next step is using it. Once you fully build your profile you want to add connections, skills, recommendations, etc… this gives recruiters and hiring managers a full look at who you are and what you have accomplished, according to your own colleagues.
4. Make Sure you Have Familiarity with Tech Advancements in your Industry.
Even if you aren’t ready to take that leap and get another degree or certification, you should be staying up on all the technological advancements within your industry. This is a great way to use LinkedIn. You can follow companies who are innovators within your area of interest and join groups that are centered around it. Not to mention, you can always sign up for periodicals and journals to be emailed to you. Often these publications contain information about what is currently going on within an industry and the direction it is heading. If you aren’t sure where to look for this information, doing a Boolean Google search can result in some pretty great articles. Just be sure to check the validity of the website and/or author. There are numerous courses that you can take to refresh your skills, all online and self-paced. You may not be certified at the end of the course but you will be more familiar with recent changes in processes and terminology.
5. Don’t Directly or Indirectly Comment on your Age.
I will be the first to admit that I have done this. Maybe not in an interview setting but in my everyday life, in my networking, and even with colleagues. I’m here to tell you to stop it! Doing this downplays your experience, and in some cases comes off as rude and condescending, especially in a professional setting. Don’t focus on when you did something; instead, focus on what you have done, why, and what accomplishments came out of using that skill or ability. When you are asked to give an example of a time you did something, or used a particular skill, starting off with phrases like "You’re too young to remember but,…", "I am probably aging myself with this…", or "I haven’t used this in 10 or 15 years..." takes away from the what and places focus on the when.
Even if you aren’t an older adult, these are all important things to note for your own job search process. Reentering the workforce after retiring, changing career fields, or taking time off to raise your family can be difficult on its own. Your age being a defining factor in your candidacy shouldn’t be something that you have to worry about, but sometimes it is. With these 5 simple steps, you can give yourself a little more peace of mind going into your next job search.
Written by: Phylicia Vallier, Training Specialist