Dear Sam: I am 51 years old and looking for a part-time clerical position. I've had little response to my resume, and I feel it could be due to my age. I'm not sure how to get around it because I was employed with one company for 17 years. I have omitted my first employer so I have two jobs listed - one for 17 years and the other for four. I have not listed any years regarding my education. - Martha
Dear Sam: I am 51 years old and looking for a part-time clerical position. I’ve had little response to my resume, and I feel it could be due to my age. I’m not sure how to get around it because I was employed with one company for 17 years. I have omitted my first employer so I have two jobs listed — one for 17 years and the other for four. I have not listed any years regarding my education. — Martha
Dear Martha: If you are only presenting 21 years of experience, a reader may assume you are in your early 40s, which eliminates your fear of being aged. However, maybe more than just your chronological age is dating your candidacy. Review the roles you have included, and be sure to use up-to-date jargon and hard-hitting keywords that position you for what you now want to pursue.
Many candidates, when presenting long-term tenure with one employer, often take brevity too far. Be sure you present a nice mix of your roles along with the value you contributed presented in the form of accomplishment statements. I hope you are spreading your experience over two pages versus trying to squeeze it all onto one. You should also open with a strong Qualifications Summary that frames your experience and candidacy for the reader.
While ageism is a rational concern, I think your lack of response is due more to formatting and content strategies. Take a look at some resume samples on my website to confirm you are presenting a document in line with best practices. Once you tweak your resume a little, I’m sure you will start to hear the phone ring.
Dear Sam: I lost my management job a year ago. Since then, I have held two jobs, each lasting six months. I am afraid that another company might not hire me, because I am 59 years old. What do you suggest? — Simon
Dear Simon: First, determine an appropriate amount of experience to list on your resume. Based on the level you want to pursue, I suggest 10 to 15 years. You can omit the earlier of your recent short-term positions — as I assume they are not incredibly strong, based on the short tenure. Doing so will not cause a gap when presenting only years and not months of employment.
As your manager position would include more accomplishments, I suggest creating a Select Highlights section where your achievements can be previewed on page one. This will push your most recent, short-term experience toward the bottom of page one (or top of page two), ensuring it plays a less significant role during the screening process.
Dear Sam: I retired from the Department of Defense with 31 years of service. During those years, I held different positions. I am looking for a part-time position, but am having no luck. Most of the part-time jobs I found are positions similar to what I did more than 10 years ago. How can I incorporate my older work experience on my resume to be considered for a part-time job now? — Carole
Dear Carole: To avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy, include only your most recent positions with dates you performed each role after your titles, and add a byline to note that you have additional experience with the organization. Focus on the past 10 years of employment and the related achievements and responsibilities.
To incorporate notes about previous positions, add a Career Highlights section, which should appear after your Qualifications Summary, but before your Professional Experience section.
Employ a functional approach to this section if you want to highlight certain areas that relate to your current job search. You can do this by using functional subheadings to focus the hiring manager’s attention on the experience within your background that enhances your candidacy. You can highlight achievements and responsibilities related to the positions you held 10-plus years ago, without exploring them in detail. In the Professional Experience section, after you hit the 10-year mark, take the byline approach to present additional positions. I wish you well.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.comor call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).