Dear Sam: I read your column today about dates. I am retired and have been considering getting a job to earn extra money. The thing is, I’ll be 80 in February, so I have been wondering whether the industry would hire someone my age. I am a computer expert and a computer programmer with a lifetime of computer experience, having seen the writing on the wall in 1976. I have worked in electronics since joining the Army in 1964. I also worked at a Medical Center for 36 years, half that time as an electronics technician and half as a programmer for the Clinical Engineering Department, which took care of all the medical equipment in the hospital. So, no dates, or even try? I still program computers and make applications. Is age really important? Should I forget the whole idea? Any help from you on this would be greatly appreciated. – Tony
Dear Tony: In my recent column, I mentioned excluding dates from early foundational experience, not your entire resume. When building your resume and brand, the goal is to present the most competitive picture of your candidacy while providing hiring managers with the expected 10 to 15 years of professional history. In your case, I would focus your presentation on showcasing your up-to-date technology skills because listing that you have worked in the field for almost 50 years, while impressive, will not necessarily position you as the best-qualified candidate. Given technology changes so rapidly, even someone who has been out of the field for a couple of years shows concern that their skills are becoming dated. Having said that, if you have worked in the area recently and consistently, I would present the last 10 to 15 years of your history on your resume. I would suggest including some of your foundational experiences, allowing you to highlight the unique depth and breadth of your involvement in the field, but doing so without the context of dates just for those select experiences.
It is not for me to say whether or not you should try; that is your decision, given your needs and interests. I would say, however, that it would be very beneficial to have people in your network refer you for opportunities versus applying cold and going through a traditional interview process. You could also try engaging in consulting assignments or freelance work, allowing you to select the engagements that work best for your needs, schedule, and preferences. You could also try going through an IT placement agency, which would allow them to represent your candidacy and place you in the positions that could take the most advantage of your extensive experience. I wish you all the best in your search for what is next.
Dear Sam: I am in my early twenties with three years of experience in administrative and customer service roles. I need to sell myself in my resume to gain my next professional position, but I’m not sure how. – Sadie
Dear Sadie: Thank you for sending your resume so I could review it and provide some guidance. As an entry-level candidate with just a few years of experience, you should have a one-, not two-page, resume. As an administrative specialist, I’d like a more aesthetically pleasing design showcasing your ability to produce a well-designed document.
Your objective statement is taking up important space at the top of page one and does not tell the hiring manager what you can offer. Replace this with a summary highlighting your skills and attributes. Use this section to “sell” why the hiring manager should interview (and hire) you!
You presented a paragraph of your job description, and while providing this information is important, you want to focus the reader’s attention on where you truly contributed value. Think about things you achieved while on the job. Did you help with any special projects? Did you receive customer commendations? All of these things are areas in which you could present more achievement-oriented statements.
It is assumed you have a high school diploma, so I would advise you not to list that on your resume. As you received multiple academic honors, I suggest pulling those items out and including them in your qualifications summary. I would then omit an education section (as including it is only telling your audience that you do not have a college degree) and relocate your community involvement work to its own section.
If you revamp your resume, I am confident you will emerge as a highly competitive candidate. You have a strong background for an entry-level candidate; it needs to be presented more strategically than you have done thus far.