Over 50: Six Resume Mistakes To Avoid
By Robin Ryan Posted 02-14-2019

The million dollar question is this: can your resume get through automated and HR screeners so that you will get the all-important phone call to set up an interview. And is that call for a great job? At the right level and for a good salary? When you are over 50, you need to start worrying about these things. In a study using 40,000 fake resumes, the results showed compelling evidence that there is definitely age discrimination in hiring.  You definitely don’t want your resume to scream I’m OLD! You don’t want it to say I’m dated and the employer to assume so are your skills and abilities.


In my work with career counseling clients, I have written thousands of resumes in my 30-year career. I’ve seen so many mistakes that boomers need to avoid. For example, when I started my session with Tom, a 61-year-old manager who had a long career in the manufacturing industry, I saw some typical errors boomers make. His resume wasn’t producing interviews which prompted his call.


As I looked over Tom’s resume, he was making SIX mistakes I’d like you to avoid so here is my analysis along with some comments from a Sr. HR Manager to help you create a better marketing tool that will help you get employers attention.


Mistake #1 Too Long

Baby Boomers think that they need to tell their whole story when all employers really care about are the last 5-8 years. I recommend you leave off work descriptions you did prior to 2000 if you must bring attention to it only note the job title, company, and employment dates. Experience that is 20 years ago is so dated employers find little value in it. They hire you for the ability you have now, not when you started out. So edit the old experience out. HR recruiters continue to state that TWO pages are all they’ll read so never exceed that length.


Mistake #2 Too General

Employers are worried that your best days may be behind you so the resume needs to be focused on how you still are a key contributor. Boomers tend to write very long, dull job descriptions. Employers are only interested in seeing the results you have achieved on the job. You should outline the accomplishments and outcomes you have recently delivered to your current organizations. Show how you created new things, have been innovative and solved key problems. Make mention of your bottomline contributions and quantify whenever possible.


Mistake # 3 Left the College Graduation Year Off or Fudged It

Some job hunters removed the graduation date thinking employers can figure out their age. Omitting your year of college graduation was a concern for Lizzie Rahm, HR Senior Manager and Recruiter, Clark Nuber PS (https://clarknuber.com/) noting employers might wonder if you had ever finished your degree if they saw no graduation date.


Another worry is that a third of all job applicants lie about their education according to a Career Builder study, and when I mention this to Ms. Rahm she quickly stated that her organization does a background check on every single person they make a job offer to. So if you are lying about the year you earned a degree to appear younger, it’ll come out. And if you claimed to have a degree you don’t that will be in the background report too. The result of lying to this employer is they will terminate your job offer. “There are so many background check companies out there now,” cautions Rahm “that many employers are doing thorough background checks on new hires, so job hunters definitely need to use integrity in creating their resume.”


Mistake # 4 Missing KEYWORDS

Many baby boomers apply online but they fail to understand how applicant tracking software works. Some companies may have sophisticated software installed and others may have a more basic tracking system that they use. And every employer is dependent on the human being who thinks up and types in the keywords on the job surrounding that search. So your best bet is to include the most important work tasks for your job into the resume and be sure that related words for the field are in the resume too so that you will pop up.


Mistake #5 No Technology Skills

Older workers often don’t have a slew of computer skills or maybe you do. How would the employer know if you fail to include them on your resume?  This can be a place to shine if you have extra skills beyond the basics. Being an expert user in Excel or Project is worth noting. Mention fabulous creative skills using PowerPoint, or blogging skills using WordPress. Maybe you can utilize Adobe’s creative suite. Don’t forget to mention experience working with databases. We assume you are able to use WORD and Outlook. None of these? Then get to the library or a community college and start taking classes.


Mistake #6 Bad Formatting

Most baby boomers simply cram too much into their resume using an outdated style. Writing in only paragraphs is a very dated resume style that definitely screams you are very old-fashioned. Most of your work experience should be written in bullets as these are concise and can convey your message in the briefest way possible. Employers need to be able to clearly read the resume. Keep the font size to a 12. Don’t use tables in creating the resume content as some software cannot scan them leaving that section of your resume blank. Don’t make a long list of skills competencies as that is also a more dated style. Demonstrate your abilities inside your experience in the skills you used and the results you have achieved.


Lastly, but a point that always must be said, PROOF CAREFULLY!!!! Making these changes are the key steps to helping you stay marketable in today’s workplace.


This article originally appeared in Forbes.com      


© 2019 Robin Ryan all rights reserved.


Robin Ryan has appeared on 2000 TV & radio shows including Oprah, Dr Phil, Cnn, ABC News and NPR. Robin has a career counseling practice offering resume writing, interview coaching, and LinkedIn profile writing services.  Robin Ryan is the bestselling author of 60 Seconds & You're Hired!; Winning Resumes; Retirement Reinvention; Winning Cover Letters; Soaring On Your Strengths; What to Do with the Rest of Your Life; and Over 40 & You're Hired.

For more career help visit: www.RobinRyan.com

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