Consider this scenario; after 20 years of loyalty to his employer, Ken’s position has just been eliminated due to a company merger. He suddenly finds himself unemployed at the age of 58. As he begins to search for his outdated resume typed in 1987, he worries about what the future will hold in a world that associates youth with ambition. Frequently, he hears that 50 is the new 40 or 40 is the new 30, but knows that age discrimination in the workplace is not a thing of the past. After doing some research and seeking professional advice, Ken develops a resume strategy that will not immediately broadcast his age. Instead, his presentation will point attention toward his exceptional achievements while promoting his value to a new employer.

In this scenario, Ken decided to use specific resume techniques that allowed him to remain competitive in his field. By creating more focus toward his expertise, he was able to steer employers away from the typical stereotypes associated with older job seekers and shave approximately 15 years from his resume age.

What techniques did Ken use to develop his resume?

After 20 years of success as a business analyst, Ken was an expert in his field and wanted the same opportunity within his industry. He decided to ditch the objective at the top of his resume. Instead, he used his industry career title as a headline and wrote a brief profile summary to promote his expertise as an analyst.

While writing his resume, Ken avoided using words such as seasoned and energetic to describe his attributes and listing obsolete technologies and skills that hinted he might be older. Additionally, Ken refrained from using the dated salutation “Dear Sir/Madam” in his cover letter and the redundant phrase “references provided upon request” at the end of his resume.

Ken did reveal he was a college graduate, but did not include his 1977 graduation date. Recent professional development courses such as industry related workshops, training programs, and company sponsored seminars were added (with dates) to the education section of his resume, demonstrating his commitment to learning new skills and business practices.

Although he had a 34-year job history, Ken decided only to disclose 20 years of experience with his most recent employer. This was all he needed to effectively highlight his career progression while promoting his relevant credentials and background.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist see the opportunity in every difficulty.
-Winston Churchill

Finally, Ken was advised to modernize the format of his resume and job search. His resume was prepared in text, PDF, and MS Word to accommodate the online requests of various employers and job boards. When doing some research, he found that social networking is an effective strategy to find opportunities, so he decided to join LinkedIn. Quickly, he learned how to create a profile to build his professional network, share his industry ideas, research companies, and identify job openings.

Ken was able to find an opportunity within several months, but encourages other mature professionals to update their resumes sooner rather than later. Being prepared can diminish some of the anxiety associated with a job loss and keep you better focused toward future success.