Is It My Resume Or My Age?

Are you a baby boomer who's having a hard time finding a job? Are you sick and tired of only getting a "Thank you" e-mail from employers after submitting your resume? Well, you're not alone. There are many people out there that are struggling with the same problem. Here's some insight from our approved panel of career experts on the subject:


Realize 'Thank You' Doesn't Necessarily Mean 'No'

"Some companies send out an automated 'thank you' response so the candidates know their resumes and/or applications have been received," said Amanda Haddaway, author of Destination Real World: Success After Graduation for New and Soon-to-Be College Graduates. "It doesn't necessarily mean no. In fact, many companies keep resumes active for six months to a year and hiring needs can change drastically in that amount of time."

Reevaluate Your Resume

"The good news is that you are at least hearing back," says Dawn Rasmussen of PathFinderCareers.com. "Most companies don’t even have an auto-responder to let you know that they received your submission. If you are worried about your age and they haven’t met you, then it’s time to review your resume to look for areas that might tip them off." Rasmussen suggests asking these questions when evaluating your resume. These are all indicators that can leave you open to potential age discrimination. Corey Harlock of SkillstoAchieve.com suggests using these resume strategies:
  • Remove dates from your education
  • Only list the last 10 years of work experience
  • Remove any statements like "over 20 years experience."
"Most jobs advertise 3-8 years of experience," says Harlock. "Twenty years doesn't get you an interview it gets you eliminated." "The reason the company sends [automated thank you notes] is because they do not want you contacting them to find out if they received your application and, one would hope, because it is also the polite thing to do," says Bruce Hurwitz of HSStaffing.com. "As for what is wrong, meaning why you are not getting interviews, it’s either your cover letter, resume, or both."

Get Out And Network

"If your only interaction with the company is applying online and getting an automated response then you can expect the same experience over and over again," says Ben Eubanks of UpstartHR.com. "When you break out of that cycle and actually start networking with people within your target companies, you'll see a change in your job searching experience." According to Bud Bilanich, author of Climbing The Corporate Ladder, if you are applying for jobs using boards like Monster you are unlikely to find a job – no matter what your age. "The best way to find a job is to get out there and talk to the people you know," he says. "Tell them about your skills and how you can make a difference in their company. As a boomer (I’m one too) you have lots of things going for you – your experience and the wisdom you’ve gained from that experience. Don’t think of yourself as too old. Think of yourself as a mature professional who can make a positive impact on the company who hires you."

Do Your Research

There definitely could be age discrimination going on, particularly if the employer feels you will want more money based on your experience, or is concerned with how technologically savvy you are. Shell Mendelson of PassiontoCareer.com suggests doing a little research on the companies before you apply. "A bit of research on employers who hire older works and/or have a policy of doing so would go a long way," says Mendelson.

Use Some Simple Resume Tricks

"People reading your resume should not be able to determine your age," says Don Goodman of GottheJob.com. "Generally you stop going back on your work history when it is no longer relevant or it ages you. If you have older work history that you want to include, there are a number of tricks to avoid giving away your age such as saying "other positions include."

Beware Of The ATS

"If your resume is not picked by the ATS system, the hiring manager will never read it," says Robin Schlinger of RobinResumes.com. "If your resume does not show how you meet the job requirements, with accomplishments, the hiring manager may decide not to interview you." Schlinger also notes that, if you are applying for jobs that are lower than your level of experience or are not a match for your experience, it is difficult to apply online for jobs and get the interview. You need to show how you match the job requirements to get the job.

Make Sure You're Marketing Yourself Well

"Before you consider ageism as the cause of not being hired, take a long look at your career documents or anything else that is within your own control," says Kristin Johnson of ProfessionDirection.com. "Are you marketing yourself well? Do you emphasize your successes, include quantifiable results, have a modern design in all of your documents? Are you applying for jobs you are well-qualified for? Not to completely discount your concern, but what else can you improve on before you blame it on your age?"

Double Check Your Keywords

"The statistics do show that there is real age bias in the hiring process," says Dorothy Tannahill-Moran of NextChapterNewLife.com. "However, if you are not getting 'traction' in what I call the front end (submitting application or resume), the chance that the lack of selection for you has anything to do with your age is slim. In this highly automated process these days, a lack of selecting a resume has more to do with your use - or lack of use - of keywords associated with the job openings. Your resume simply won't be pulled out of the system for further review."

Find A Mentor

"I would suggest that you list down the skills from your life experience that helped you make difficult decisions," says Roshni Kumar of CareerLighthouse.net. "Then, narrow it down to skills employers are looking for now." Kumar also suggests finding a mentor who has knowledge about today's fast paced industry. "[Having a mentor] can be mutually beneficial for him, too, as you may have invaluable life experiences to share," she says. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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