While most job seekers experience obstacles during their efforts to find that perfect job, older workers, those with over 20 years of experience, often face unique challenges. For a variety of reasons, a lot of hiring managers seem to give preference to younger workers. Usually, that preference is the result of either conscious or unconscious bias.
It could be because they might feel older workers are out of touch with modern tech or aren’t as quick at grasping new concepts or ideas. They forget that older workers often have so much more experience and knowledge about their chosen field than someone just entering the workplace.
To counter this bias, older workers need to know how to craft a comprehensive resume that maximizes their odds of landing an interview during the job search process without prejudice creeping in. You don’t want your detailed resume for an older worker ending up on the “no” pile without being considered at all and through no fault of your own.
Read on about how our team of career experts has come up with 7 no-fail tips for resumes for older workers that can help you land more interviews.
How strategic resumes help older workers
First, though, it’s helpful to understand why these tips for resumes for older workers are even necessary. It all comes down to perception. Applications from more experienced job seekers often contain resumes that are filled with years of valuable accomplishments. They have relevant skills crafted over many decades of employment. On the surface, you’d think those would be positive benefits that would excite most potential employers and hiring managers. Sadly, that’s not always the case when compared to younger job seekers.
In fact, many employers view a lengthy work history as a sign that the older worker is probably outdated. They may assume that you can’t possibly be familiar with current technology, trends, and strategies.
Worse still, they may even believe that they can’t afford to hire you. After all, your lengthy experience and impressive skill set should command a high salary, right? Basically, these hiring managers will assume that your age and experience with outdated tech skills represent too great a risk, and you might get turned down at the first hurdle before you’ve even been given a chance to state your suitability for the role.
The best way to avoid that rejection is to update your resume by following the tips below to showcase your skills and qualifications the right way, enabling you to effectively remove the age question from your resume.
7 tips for resumes for older workers
1. Omit dates from your resume
One of the best tips for resumes for older workers is to avoid using graduation dates in the education section. It’s difficult to work around your age if your college graduation date is there in black-and-white. There’s no requirement to add this, so just skip the dates altogether, but keep it consistent so there are no dates on professional development courses as well.
2. Only include the last 10 to 15 years of your experience
Another of our top tips for resumes for older workers involves relevancy. Instead of including every bit of work experience you’ve ever done, going back to the 1990s, stick to your up-to-date jobs by setting out your career summary in reverse chronological order, with your most recent role at the top. So for older workers - leave some jobs off your resume.
Your best option is to only include relevant experience from the last 10 to 15 years. For a more detailed explanation of how far back to go, check out our blog on how many years of experience you need to include on your resume.
3. Avoid listing outdated skills
Many resumes for older workers include outdated and irrelevant skills that can easily give away their age. Include skills, programs, and certifications that are relevant in today’s job market or required for the position you’re targeting. “Typing,” “Microsoft Word,” and “Google” don’t belong on your resume for an older worker or on your cover letter either.
4. Highlight your skills
No list of top resume tips for older workers would be complete without mentioning skills. Many older workers are reluctant to boast about what they excel at, but this is the one place where you can. Your resume for an older worker should highlight your qualifications as much as possible, and skills are an important part of that process. Just be sure to give a place of prominence to your technology skills as well.
Also, remember that most companies nowadays use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to automatically screen your resume. These applicant tracking systems automatically screen resumes to see if you’re a good match for the position. An average of 75% of candidates are rejected by ATS and, most of the time, the candidate is qualified; it’s just that their resume isn’t optimized.
Make sure that you use a standard resume format so that the ATS can easily scan your resume for an older worker. You should also include keywords (i.e., skills) that are relevant to the position. Check out the job description and be guided by what’s on there.
5. Include a LinkedIn URL
The inclusion of a LinkedIn URL also has a place in any list of resume tips for older workers. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page by now, it’s definitely worth getting one.
This is especially true if you’re looking for a role, as the connections that can be made there are so worth it--for extending your network and for giving you a better chance of finding that perfect position. Be sure to include a link to that page within your contact details on your resume for an older worker. Having a LinkedIn link on there also helps with your ATS score.
6. Use an updated word processor
Since many companies want to see electronic copies of resumes, your word-processing software deserves some attention as well. If you’re using an outdated version of Microsoft Word, upgrade it.
And if you’re using any other type of word processing software, consider switching to Word. It’s pretty much the gold standard for resumes for older workers and others these days.
7. Customize every time you apply
There’s no one-size-fits-all in the resume world, so don’t rely on one basic resume, hoping that it will cover all roles. It won’t. When it comes to tips for resumes for older workers, this one is critical.
Every resume that you submit must be tailored to match the desired position. That means using keywords from the job posting and narrowing down experience and skills to ensure that they’re relevant. The days of using the same resume for every application are a thing of the past.
Resume example for older workers:
Sometimes, it helps to see something to get a real idea of what to do. Notice in the following example how the additional professional experience is listed below without dates--strategic!
The good news is that these tips for resumes for older workers can help you avoid bias and give you a better shot at landing an interview. That’s the best way to ensure yourself a fair chance of convincing an employer or hiring manager that you’re the right candidate for the job.
Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer
Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant with over 12 years of experience based in Brighton, UK, with an English degree and an addiction to Wordle! She is a former Journalist of 17 years with the claim to fame that she interviewed three times Grand Slam winner and former World No.1 tennis player, Andy Murray, when he was just 14 years old. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.