Resume Rules for any age…
But most important if you are over 40 and want to avoid becoming yet another ageism victim.
Think of your resume as your personal sales brochure – it’s sole purpose is getting you the interview. It’s the vital first piece of your job-seeking sales campaign – get it wrong, and the campaign may be dead.
It must present the most valuable information for this job – the one you are applying for. The most important Resume Rule? It must be clear and easy to read, otherwise, you could be tossed straight into the ‘Trash’ folder.
When sending your resume out, it must be addressed to someone and be targeted to this person’s interest. Not to ‘Whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Recruiters and employers are inundated with hundreds of resumes and other information. Not personalised? Too easy to ignore and reject.
The 10 Powerful Resume Rules to avoid Job age discrimination
Why do people who’ve just landed a job rave on about how it was all down to what a great resume they have? Nonsense! Reminds me of the 105-year-old saying her long life was down to smoking 10 cancer sticks every day. No mention of her genes, the clean air, a great diet or just plain good luck!
OK, but it still needs to be great, here’s how to avoid Job age discrimination – your Resume Rules…
1. Improve the visual presentation – if you wouldn’t be impressed receiving it, don’t send it. Remember that there are many websites where you can download great resume templates – but don’t be too fancy, keep it professional. However, beware of sharks like https://www.resumecoach.com/ who claim to be free. Then, when you finish your resume, you have to pay to get access to it. And when you do, it automatically signs you in for the recurring plan. Pathetic dinosaur pressure sales tactics!
2. Avoid large blocks of text – use short sentences and bullet points to direct readers to the key points.
3. Have wide margins – so the interviewer can make notes if they like working on a paper copy. But don’t put each section on a new page – flipping pages is tiresome.
4. Use a biggish font – many employers don’t have the eyesight they used to, so use 11 or 12 points.
5. How long should it be? 2 Pages. Some people have adopted the one-page version beloved of American business schools. However, this is too brief for the Aussie market. Lots of pages and a two-page cover email – why would
you?! Short means it’s more likely to be read and get you the interview because what matters is naturally highlighted and easier to understand. Remember, they can always ask for more info later once they have engaged with you.
6. Present how YOU can add value to their organisation. You need to know the finer points of every position you apply for. It’s a quality game, not a ‘how many’ contest (unless you have to meet some silly Government rules about being seen to be active – one of the dumbest rules here in little old Oz!) Your email must highlight precisely how your skills/experience fit this position. If your resume is for no particular position, still try and tailor it to the Division or Department you are trying to join. Always state what you can do for the organisation, not what they can do for you (didn’t JFK say something like that?)
7. Avoid being screened out – take care with the grammar and layout. Recruiters and employers are like everyone else – they have prejudices: they screen you out because of subliminal prejudices or on things that YOU think are unimportant. Having been a head-hunter for 19 years, some of the examples would be amusing if the damage wasn’t so serious. One common prejudice is typos: they go looking for them, ready to pounce and then toss your resume into rejects. Religion is another: unless it is really important to you and your career, leave yours off as it’s a minefield. On the other hand, if it is integral to your life, select your employer accordingly. But having seen an employer toss a resume because the person was a Christian of a different branch (and they would have got along really well if they had met), at least, be aware of the potential consequences.
8. Use action words. Increasingly, organisations want people who can implement change and manage new projects. Use action words when describing your responsibilities and achievements. Words such as ‘completed, managed, changed, implemented, developed, achieved’ are better than passive, descriptive words.
9. Use some buzzwords. Most industries and professions have popular buzzwords that they use. Selectively use some in your resume, as they show you know your stuff.
10. Follow up with a phone call – be polite but persistent when following with a call. This encourages the recruiter or employer to take action or to reconsider it if they had initially rejected you. It gives you another chance to sell yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you should ‘argue’ with the judge’s decision. Seek feedback as it will help you to understand whether the role was realistic for you and you may get a referral to someone else. Less than 5% of candidates seek real feedback from recruiters – a terrible waste of all the effort you have put in.
Why do just 5% of applicants make the call? There is no research on this, but here are my thoughts…
- That people believe their resume says it all, so why ring?
- The world has moved way too far to going online – and talking and meeting face to face have been pushed aside.
- But the biggest reason: that people don’t believe that applying for a job is selling – it is. And it’s a tough sell.
What should you discuss? This will be covered later, but there is really only one question you should ask – “Hi Sue, I’m just ringing to discuss the suitability of my application and how my background compares to other applicants”. Then you can clarify if she gets it wrong. But if she says the others are just stronger, you can ask where they are stronger. If you are over 40, many recruiters will obfuscate and even lie at this stage – not much you can do about that. Just put them on your blacklist that you share with your over 40 job search buddies (and get some buddies if you haven’t yet!).
The mission of the Stable and Wise Community…
To unite unprejudiced employers with Mature, stable and motivated employees
“Age is just a number, a number & no more. The experience, maturity, wisdom an older person brings to an organisation is immense & can never be replicated.” Jacqueline Perera, LinkedIn.
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If you personally have not suffered, then perhaps let a friend know about this community – we all know people who have applied for jobs and suffered the deafening silence.