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Boomers Don't Have to Hide their Age on Resumes...

Boomers - don't get cute with the resume details - keep it real...

Last week, I overheard someone recommending that a candidate take dates off resumes.  I'm weighing in, because removing dates from your resume is a forced, unnatural, red flag thing to do...

As a HR pro and someone who looks at thousands of candidates a year, I'm not a fan of removing datesBabyboomers1  from resumes. One of the things I rely on to make sense of a career, and how it fits our needs, is how many years you performed role A, B or C.  Take the dates off the resume, and it's hard for me to figure that out. If you're really concerned about the age thing, feel free to remove dates from your diploma or degree, because once you've been in the world of work for five years, those things become less important than your experience. 

Let's say you've got 30 years of experience and have worked for six different companies in your career. You should assume HR pros and hiring managers want you to spend 80 percent of your space talking about the last five years of your career. A good way to focus on your recent experience, and deemphasize what you did in the 1980's, is to outline the scope and accomplishments of your last two jobs in detail, then drop the rest of the work experience into a list format that only takes up a small portion of a page. Another handy tip, to avoid overwhelming a prospective employer with your experience, is to never go past two pages on a resume.  Your accomplishments warrant more than one page, but three pages is overkill.

As sad as it sounds, the average, initial resume review lasts five to 10 seconds, after which it's placed in a "yes" or "no" stack for a deeper review at a later time. All you want your resume to do is move to the "yes" stack and generate a phone call when the company is ready to talk.

More important than age, to any hiring manager, is your energy and confirmation that you are looking forward rather than backward. Change your perspective from "look what I have done" to "look what I can do for you".  How do you do that?  Move from statements on your resume that outline what you were responsible for ("managed three-state sales territory") to statements that show analysis and action ("developed low-cost database to track leads and automate mail-out process"). Transitioning from responsibility to action on your resume lets hiring managers see the value and envision how you can help them.

A forward-looking perspective is the key.  If HR pros and hiring managers can envision what you are going to do to help them, your age won't matter.   Look forward with your positioning, don't take the easy way out and simply remove dates from your CV... 



Honestly I don't know if I am alone in this, but when I go over resume or application with minor missing information I automatically put it in the maybe file if there are promising things contained within(I actually have three piles not just two). I hire mostly hourly employees so sometimes people don't understand the online application or whatever. I probably would not do this with salary types. Good post!

Meg Bear

you should check out the new rules in the UK around what you can and can't ask or say about an individual. You can't say "experienced" or ask for time on the job since that might cause you to think someone is "old" and discriminate against them in hiring. And you thought OFCCP rules were complex ;-).

Michael Haberman, SPHR

Well as most HR people know when we look at resumes we are not looking to screen "in" we are looking to screen "out". The ones that don't get tossed in the OUT pile then get a more thorough review and then the process is to screen IN.

I look for action bias. I am too tired of passive. I happened to be responding to a friend on her resume as the email came in with this post. I copied and pasted the paragraph that starts with "More important than age..." and sent that as my response on what she should do to her resume.

Good post Kris.

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