With five generations in the workforce and an ever-changing landscape of technology and innovation, jobseekers must ensure their resumes are fresh and current and utilize the latest trends. A resume needs to be timeless, like a classic book or movie—you don’t want the resume equivalent of big hair, muscle cars, or tie dye shirts to give away when the writing or filming took place. Take the following key actions to position yourself for success and avoid potential age bias in your next job search.
Contact info matters: Contact info should be at or near the top of your resume, and what you choose to include can immediately provide hints about age and/or tech-savviness. Avoid email addresses shared with your spouse or family and make sure the domain is a current, recognizable one. If you list an AOL or EarthLink email address, your audience is likely to interpret this as an indication that you are outdated and unwilling to change with the times. Setting up a new email account is quick and easy, and you’ll appear instantly younger by changing email providers. Include a personalized LinkedIn address on your resume (as long as your profile is complete, accurate, and current—including the picture), and lose a few more years by deleting your home address. Almost no one reaches out by snail mail, and without an address, you portray the mobility of a younger person.
Eliminate dates: Remove graduate and undergraduate education dates and don’t list your high school unless you’re applying for a job there. Delete dates of any training courses you’ve taken—unless it was this year, and Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates taught the course in new technology or Warren Buffet tutored you on investing.
Strategic edits shape your image: Ruthlessly retool your resume. Review specific responsibilities and eliminate tell-tale signs of “old school” experience. For example, if you’re a tech person and were responsible for purchasing all technology equipment in your previous roles, don’t start the list of equipment you bought with a fax machine. For older positions, you can generalize and discuss responsibilities for identifying, vetting, and purchasing technology equipment. Use words like “early adaptor,” “emerging,” and “beta test” as appropriate. Unless you invented it, remove any mention of technology that is no longer relevant, like Lotus, WordPerfect, or dot matrix printers. Only mention current best practice technology experience.
When in doubt, cut it out: It can be painful to eliminate information from your resume, so submit each line to the “So what?” test. Would a hiring manager be interested in the work you did, if it happened before he or she was in middle school? This is the reality, so let each line speak to your current added value. As you review past jobs, consider deleting those initial early learning experiences. Resume screeners know your first job probably wasn’t in the C-suite, but they don’t need much detail on the early years—unless they ask. If they ask, it means you’ve earned an interview, which is the goal of a good resume.
Keep it brief: Hiring managers who grew up tweeting and texting don’t use long narratives to describe their work and won’t want to wade through reams of text, so make sure your resume style resonates with your audience. If you bury key accomplishments in dense paragraphs, they will easily become lost or simply ignored. Bullet points make identifying your areas of responsibility and accomplishments much easier, so start editing out long paragraphs.
Cultivate social media presence: When people want to know more about you, they search social media and check out your LinkedIn profile. A lot of dates exist online, so remove as many as possible. Just as importantly, link with younger people. Make sure all your connections are not retired or senior citizens; ask to link with the younger people in your office and at other companies where you’ve worked. Even if you have to borrow friends of your kids, having multigenerational LinkedIn connections will help boost your image as someone who stays up to date in their professional circles. It’s also wise to connect with a network of experts in many fields, not just your own.
Highlight professional experiences: Resumes should focus on professional experiences, rather than personal hobbies, interests, and activities. Include any professional licenses or training you received and focus on demonstrated skills. And remember, proficiency in Microsoft Office is an assumed skill for business—especially among professionals who learned it in elementary school.
Making these changes will instantly help your resume appeal to hiring managers of any age as well as keep you focused on staying updated on the skills and trends you need for continued career success.