Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and the Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: How can I overcome ageism in the job search?
“I'm 69. How do I overcome age barriers during the job search?” — Bruce
Unfortunately, age discrimination is alive and well in today's workplace. Studies have shown that employees who are 50 years of age and older are not only more likely to be laid off during tough economic times, but they're also known to have longer periods of unemployment before being able to re-enter the workforce. While there are many factors at play, ageism is certainly one of them.
I can't offer a magic solution that will change how recruiters and hiring managers approach the recruitment process, I can offer some tips to help you overcome ageism and compete against other candidates in today's job market.
How to overcome ageism in your resume
If you haven't looked for a job in more than five years, it's time to upgrade your resume. In today's job market, you need to write your resume with multiple audiences in mind. This includes the electronic gatekeepers known as applicant tracking systems, or ATS in addition to the recruiters and hiring managers who will review your resume.
Stick to a two-page resume length
Streamline your document to this optimal resume page length by limiting your “Work History” section to the most recent 15 years. You can include a “Career Note” or a small “Earlier Work Experience” section toward the end of your resume if you want to name drop any employers or clients that could help your candidacy.
Edit your resume with your current goals in mind
Try to avoid the “jack-of-all-trades” approach when formatting your resume. You may have worked in a number of different fields and functions throughout the course of your career, but your resume should be tailored to highlight the experiences that directly support your immediate job goal. Click on the following link for tips on how to customize your resume for a specific role.
Make your resume ATS-friendly
90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking systems to review their incoming job applications and eliminate the least qualified candidates from the bunch. If your resume is not written with this software in mind, your job application may never make it to a human for review, regardless of your qualifications. Click on the following link for resume-writing tips to help you beat the ATS.
Jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon
If you've resisted the urge to use LinkedIn in the past, now's the time to give in. A study by Jobvite found that over 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their recruitment process. If you're not on LinkedIn, you're missing out on job opportunities and potentially sabotaging your success. Click on the following link to learn how to create a job-winning LinkedIn profile.
Update your contact information
If you have a certification or advanced degree that is highly valued in your field, add its initials after your name at the top of your resume and on your LinkedIn profile. Drop the mailing address from your resume and list only the city, state, and zip code (assuming you're looking for work near home). Include the phone number to your cell phone so you can quickly respond to recruiters while on the go. If your email address was created with an older provider such as Comcast, AOL, or Hotmail, create a new one using Gmail so employers don't assume you're not tech-savvy.
Click on the following link for more tips on how to overcome age discrimination in the job search.
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TopInterview: How to Combat Ageism During a Job Interview