Brushing off an Old Resume
When it comes to looking for work in Canada, ageism is alive and well. If you’re reading from another country, I bet ageism is hard at work where you live too!
Totally unfair. I want to be hard at work. How about you?
Once you hit 40, it’s really tough to find a job. The older you are, the harder it is.
Perhaps you haven’t had to look for a job in years. Your long term job might have suddenly ended, or you stayed at home as a caregiver or homemaker, or worked in a family business that ended when the marriage did.
Reality hits and we need to find a job, so we search on the computer for the resume we last used to find a job. First we tweak it to add former jobs, and if we learned new skills we add them in. The resume is looking good and it’s time to send it out in the world.
We have tons of job experience, we think the resume is top knotch, we apply to lots of jobs, and we don’t even get a nibble.
Competition? Sure. A job opening might bring a flood of hundreds of resumes to the hiring manager. Or maybe they rejected you when they calculated how old you are.
Time to update the resume
If you’re tweaking the same resume you used 20 years ago, or even the resume you last updated 5 years ago, it’s time for a fresh start.
I found a resume on my computer from 2006. Interesting, because I worked for the same company between 2000 and 2009. I wasn’t very happy there during the last few years – no kidding if I was applying to other jobs! Right when I was planning to quit, they laid me off with a very nice separation package that paid out my salary and benefits for about 6 months. But, I digress….
I’m pretty sure I was using a resume template that came preloaded with Microsoft Word. My old resume followed the same format I’d been using since I was old enough to start looking for work. The resume template allowed me to jazz up some of the sections with eye-catching font size and bullets.
Do you have Microsoft Office on your computer? Check it out if you haven’t already noticed this feature.
- Open Word
- Click on New
- A bunch of templates for all kinds of things like resumes, brochures, and calendars come up. You can scroll down and check out the different templates.
- Or you can organize it a little better if you’re using a recent version of Word. Below “NEW” is a search box where you can type in “resume” and the program will look online for resume templates that are compatible with Word.
- Below the search box are some suggested search topics and one of them is “resume”. Click on that to bring up the preloaded resume templates. That saves you time from scrolling through party invitations!
If you like one of these formats – great! Go for it.
You can find amazing resume templates by doing an online search. You can also search specifically for a resume and the type of job you’re looking for.
I search for “resume administrative assistant”. As part of my search I might also use the words “example” or “template”.
I’m always looking for a more modern template than the one I’m currently using. More importantly, I’m looking for keywords that I can incorporate into my resume. Skills that I have, but didn’t think about including on the resume until this example jogged my memory.
I’ll write more about keywords in my next blog post on how to write a great resume to get the job you want.
Old time resume
Just for fun, let’s get back to my 2006 resume, which probably came from a resume template that I found in Microsoft Word. It’s still an OK looking resume, but the format is dated. Now, I bet if I have an old resume kicking around on my computer, you do too! So out with it.
Print out your old resume and follow along to see if any part of my resume looks familiar to yours.
In the header section my name is in large font on the left side. My address, phone number, and email are in smaller font on the right side of the page.
In the body of the resume I start with an objective. This is where I typed in the job I was applying for. The last time I made changes to this resume, Data Processor is my objective.
Years ago people used to type a lot of blabbedity blah blah blah in the objective section that would read something like: to get a challenging job where my skills as a financial analyst can best be utilized. Maybe even some suck up stuff specifically aimed at the company where the resume is being sent.
These days you can drop the objective off the resume. The person doing the hiring knows what job posting is up for grabs. This person also understands that you’re looking for a job and applying to other companies using the same resume.
Below the objective in bullet form I list some of my skills plus a few personal things. Here’s a partial:
- 25 years experience in customer services.
- Sound decisions making skills.
- Ability to prioritize.
- Quick learner.
- Friendly, approachable and team spirited attitude.
In a moment I’ll chat about the glaring obvious one that all older women should leave off their resumes!
The rest of my old time resume I have bullet lists for Experience, Education, and Employment.
The Experience section includes stuff like this:
- Twenty years office experience. Familiar with all office equipment/machines.
- Accurate data/order entry and billing experience.
- Maintained customer databases.
The Education lists schools and seminars I attended along with the dates.
The Employment section includes my current job plus the last three jobs I held previously and when I worked there. This covers about 15 years employment history.
Get a pen and cross out anything with over 10 years experience. The new resume you’re about to create will omit content that gives away your age.
Do you see on my old resume where I say 25 years in customer service? The person doing the hiring can do some ballpark math. If they estimate I entered the work force at age 20, and I have 25 years experience in anything, then that puts me around 45 years old. Minimum.
Human Resources is looking for fresh, young talent in their twenties.
The part of my resume where I say 20 years office experience. Nope! Hiring manager can still do the math and guess I’m at least 40. Way too old!
Graduation year? Put down any relevant education after you finished high school and omit what year you attended those courses.
By the way, not everyone cares that you graduated high school, except maybe the university you’re applying to. Most employers assume you did the high school thing, especially if your resume lists any post-secondary training.
Job experience? Here it gets tricky. List your last three jobs? Maybe. I noticed when I listed them, that they added up to 20 years. Again, the person doing the hiring can do some quick math and figure out someone who’s at least 40 years old is applying for the job.
Don’t give your age away!
You want to write an outstanding resume, include a cover letter to sell yourself, and hope that’ll be enough to snag an interview.
If you’re really lucky you’ll get called for an interview. Yay! When meeting in person, be prepared that the interviewer will be shocked when they realize they’ve got an older applicant. You can’t do anything about age discrimination, unless the person conducting the interview specifically says “you’re too old”.
Then book an appointment with a lawyer. Age discrimination is against the law, but just because someone doesn’t say it, doesn’t mean they’re not thinking it.
You can usually get a good feeling during an interview if the person you’re chatting with is more interested in your past jobs and skills than your year of birth. It’s usually helpful if the person interviewing you is around the same age!
I’ll be writing posts about how to write a great resume to get the job you want, how to write a cover letter to sell yourself, and how to do an online job search.
Until then, your homework is to print off your resume and take a red pen to it with the changes you’re going to make. If you’re motivated, look online for resume examples, and I’ll be posting the last two resumes I used that helped me find jobs that you can use for a template.