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Yes, there is ageism AND you don’t have to make it easy for them
I thought I would do a video today that talks about some of the dumb things that older professionals do when they're looking for work. Now, I’ve arbitrarily pick over 50 but this applies to people who could be in their mid-40s, as well as my age. In case you haven't noticed, that's a lot of gray in there. I'm not just over 50, okay?
So I'll simply start off with the biggest mistake and I want to contextualize it by saying, you know that there's ageism in the workforce, right? And people do get discriminated against on the basis of age. And then you write a resume that says 25 years of experience. 30 years. 40 years of experience doing such and such and, thus, what we're doing in submitting your resume is making it easy for the algorithm to spot the fact that you're an older worker and that their system can arbitrarily screen you out.
Or, even if it's a someone who's actually reading it, you're announcing, "Hey, I'm old." Seriously, and you know, there's ageism so why do you make it easy for them?
Now, on the other hand, you have a choice and that's to use your age as an asset and that can wind up working very well. If you are a "very seasoned individual," I don't mean that seasoned by age but seasoned by seniority.
If you're a veteran individual who's going for something SVP, C-suite, anything along those lines, there, the number of years might make sense. But, even when you construct your resume, you have to think smart. So often, when I was reading lots and lots of resumes, when I was doing a search, I would see lots of irrelevant experience in the resume.
They'd emphasize things that were basically back in the antiquities of ancient history or their ancient history, rather than emphasizing their current work. Now, sometimes, they did that because the more interesting work was the older work, not the more recent work and I will tell you from again, from screening, employers really care about the recent experience not the stuff that you think is relevant from 25 years ago. They're never going to see it in your resume because, frankly, they're only going to go down one or two page downs in order to find it.
Now, you may think, "okay, so I'm going to use a functional resume and that's going to fool them." It won't fool them. Most of them will ask for a chronological one because they know the trick. So, think in term s of how you can position your current work in ways that advantage you against this job and get rid of numbers of years of experience like 25, 30,40 years of experience. Remove graduation dates.
Now, if you're going through a background . . . Unless you went back to school to get that degree . . . And you were like mid-career. So, then it's okay to do it. But if you're going to . . . for example, I graduated college in 71, would I put 1971 in my resume. No. I might put my Master's that I got in 1998 and even that one's questionable today. That's as of the recording today, that's 20 years ago. So, think in terms of what appeals to the audience that isn't going to cause you to be arbitrarily rejected.
Now, a couple of small things and these could be general statements, but I think they're good reminders. I want to get rid of your objective on the resume. Seriously. No one cares what you want.
You need to tailor your resume to demonstrate your fit. If you have this objective that's a little bit off from what the nature of the position is, you're inviting them to reject you. Seriously.
One other thing. I think it's a big one. I want to talk to those of you who are doing career change. You know, it's very hard to start from scratch in a new career that has nothing to do with your previous one. Now, I'm not talking about if you're going to go into business for yourself. But, let's say, you want to become an accountant or a lawyer or an engineer and your background up until that point had nothing to do with those professions.
Firms look at your background and they see a rookie at age 55. At age 60 and they think to themselves, "you know . . . " And stupid but this is how they think. They think to themselves "I've only got this person for a couple of years." Now, again, it's stupid because a 25-year-old or 22-year-old, they’ve got the same issue with because they're not going to sit there for any length of time.
So, if you're going to market yourself for a complete career change, which is harder to do if you're dealing with a full-time position, you need to have the body of your email address this by saying, "Hey, look. I'm in the midst of a career change. No, I'm not 22. However, I want to put down roots in an organization. And if you're worried about how much time you're going to get from me. Well, frankly think about it. How much time are you going to get from the 22-year-olds or the 24-year-olds. They are not going to stay with you for 20 years. Obviously, I'm not either but, you know, I'm someone who's demonstrated loyalty and dedication. This is important to me. I'd love to have a chance to talk with you about my background.”
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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