Baby Boomers, Beware! Don’t Let Your Resume Date You!

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by Deborah Walker

If you’re a job-seeker of the baby-boom generation, you may be feeling a little left out by the job market. You’re may not be ready to retire, but the young recruiters you send resumes to don’t seem to respond to your skills and experience. If you’re experiencing symptoms of age discrimination, you should know that your resume could be the culprit, categorizing you as out of date and over the hill.

Your resume can put you in the over-the-hill category in three ways. Your resume is due for an update if it contains:

  1. Outdated technology skills
  2. Outdated industry or occupational terminology
  3. Outdated resume trends

Don’t despair if your resume is out of date. You can perform an extreme resume makeover by using the tips below.

1. Make sure you are up to date on your industry’s technology.

Check multiple job descriptions within your industry to see what technologies employers really want. Determine which technologies are missing from your resume. Then decide what you need to learn or do to fill that technology gap. Consider adult-education classes, college classes, or online learning.

Be aware that technology terms are often used as keywords to filter the best resumes from electronic databases. If your resume doesn’t have them, it may never be seen. Make sure your technology skills aren’t leaving you behind.

2. Make sure your resume is using current terminology.

If you have just been adding to the same old resume over the years, your early entries may be using outdated terms. One way to bring your resume up to date is through publications from your industry’s professional associations. If you don’t belong to any professional associations, you might be missing out on the latest industry-speak.

Another good resource is job descriptions. Search job descriptions in your field for recurring terms. Learn to use the current terminology for your industry correctly and effectively.

3. Make sure your resume reflects today’s trends in resume format and style.

Some of the old resume rules just don’t apply any more. For example:

Old Rule: Limit your resume to one page. New Approach: This is a really old idea that limits your ability to show all of your skills and expertise.

Old Rule: End your resume with References Available Upon Request. New Approach: You don’t need to say that; it’s assumed.

Old Rule: You should show every job you have ever held and give each equal importance. New Approach: The main portion of your employment history should only go back as far as it related to your current employment objectives. Think of your resume as a marketing piece that highlights the best parts rather than as a tell-all. For some years, experts have recommended that your resume should go back no more than 10 years. Because of background checks, however, it’s best to include your full employment history, placing older experience in a section title “Previous Professional Experience,” in which dates of employment are optional.

Old Rule: One resume should handle everything. New Approach: Not anymore! In addition to tailoring your resume to various fields or industries, you’ll also need to tailor the way that you save it.

You’ll want to have a standard Word format (for printouts and as email attachments), and a plain-text version for online applications, which will save you a lot of time in repairing lost formatting, which often occurs when cutting and pasting a Word document into a text-only form.

Final Thoughts for Older Job-Seekers

Let your experience work for you rather than against you. Using these tips to update your resume can make a noticeable difference in interest from employers. And your new resume will be a better reflection of your hard-earned skills, talents, and expertise.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

Career Expert Deborah Walker Deborah Walker is a Certified Career Management Coach. Her expertise includes resume writing and career coaching. She holds membership in the National Resume Writer’s Association. As a former headhunter, her advice comes from an insider’s prospective based on years working with HR professionals and corporate hiring managers. Visit Deb on the Web. Or email her for a free resume critique/price quote at [email protected].

Review all our resume tools and resources in the Resume and CV Resources for Job-Seekers section of Quintessential Careers.

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