I recently saw a report on the PBS NewsHour ("Brutal Job Search Reality for Older Workers") that showed how hard it is for those of us over 50 to find jobs. Several of the people interviewed said they were leaving things off their resume in order to appear younger, at least on paper. Some of my best jobs were those I did 30 years ago, should I leave them off so I don’t seem quite so old? Does this really work?
Watch out for the media when it comes to anything about job markets. In good job markets, in bad ones - they're always looking for a story, and usually that story is negative. And not necessarily accurate. Even with PBS. Even with The New York Times. The story is frequently only partially true (maybe if you've worked in an industry that's disappeared and you need retraining), and, of course, the negatives are what gains viewers' and readers' attention. Would you watch something that said "It's really great out there; get going!"? No, if you're feeling vulnerable, you'll look for negatives items that confirm your worst fears.
Yes, it's tougher for older job seekers to find work, but that's not necessarily because of general attitudes. It has to do with, as most searches do, the right targets. For example, large corporations tend not to hire older (meaning over age 45) employees because they perceive them as too expensive. Unfortunately, older job seekers frequently take that as an indication that their skills aren't in demand, or that the market is shutting them out.
Not true. What about smaller organizations? Smaller organizations, which are definitely a better target for older employers, will value variety of skills over depth in one niche area. Of course, that's a generalization, but I've found this to be the case in many instances with older job applicants.
About the resume. Resumes are not supposed to be exhaustive records of everything you've done. They are marketing documents, where you can select what sells you best. That may include leaving off jobs from 30 years ago, leaving off education dates, and possibly functionalizing a resume to accent the skills you want to highlight. There are so many ways of repackaging yourself - including how you look, how you behave, how much energy and enthusiasm you show.
It's doable. Great search technique and appropriate targeting will solve the issue. And stop watching TV reports about the job market. Ignore the articles, too. They don't help, and they're mostly wrong.
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