Mature Job Seekers Can Master the Career Game By Avoiding Common Pitfalls That Lead to Discrimination
You dedicate the majority of your week to your work: 40 hours, 52 weeks a year. Weeks quickly become years, and before you know it, you’ve stacked up 20 years or better in your field. You think you are getting better with each year that passes, like fine wine. You expand your skills, make more connections, and understand the core demands of your industry. Sadly, aging has become a perceived weakness rather than an asset in many professional situations. If you haven’t already, you might be feeling the effects of ageism on your career.
Until the systems changes or you come across leadership that understands the real value from experienced professionals, you need to know how to play the game. This is exceptionally important when job searching. If you find yourself looking for work or wanting to shift careers, follow these five tips to sidestep some common pitfalls experienced pros often get wrong.
1. Leave off the objective statement.
These “I am looking for…” declarations are obsolete. Anyone that tells you otherwise is giving you bad advice. A contemporary resume does not include this section, and it can be a hallmark of a job seeker who is out of touch or doesn’t understand the new hiring market.
2. Don’t include more than 10 years of experience on your resume.
Your resume is no longer a comprehensive list of your work history. Cap it at the 10 most recent years. This work is what hiring managers find most relevant and helps avoid giving your age too precisely. Companies want to know what you are doing now, not 20 years ago. It made you who you are today, and your accomplishments will highlight that prowess.
3. Write about Work with passion instead of sounding like a robotic job description.
At this stage of the game, you should understand your work and value better than ever. Bring to light the accomplishments you are proud of and your impact. Leave responsibilities and the mundane off your resume. If you can’t articulate your contributions at this stage of the game, don’t expect to get the respect you deserve from hiring committees. If you can’t get there on your own, we’ll help you pinpoint your career brand.
4. Get on LinkedIn (even if you’re not job searching).
All business professionals should have a LinkedIn account at this point. It is a valuable resource for finding jobs but also for building and maintaining an active network. It is a mistake to bypass this opportunity. One important note: Make sure you have a profile photo. Don’t use an old id badge photo or something with a staged backdrop that looks like you stopped by the JC Penney photo studio. Either invest in a professional headshot or take a picture just for this profile. It is important you look your best to present a modern perception. For more advice on how to get this right, check out this article.
5. Stop using the term “forever job.”
Nothing will show your age more than saying you are looking for your last job or your forever job. It is a red flag. PERIOD. I have seen this term on so many resumes lately. I wish I knew where it originated because it is a really bad piece of advice. You are screaming to HR, “I’m close to retirement, but I’d like to work a few more years here first.” It makes it hard for them to consider investing in you as a new hire when you will likely be leaving in a few years. Even if that’s not your intended meaning, perception is everything, and that’s how it translates. Remove this term from any and all professional materials and your results will be much better.
You’ve worked hard to become the accomplished professional you are today. Keep away bias by being viewed on your merits rather than your age. Take control of your brand. You have so much to offer, follow this advice to make sure you stay a marketable candidate.
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