While there certainly is ageism in the workplace, job seekers can unknowingly make mistakes in their job search that will cause a future employer to have a negative initial impression and dismiss otherwise qualified candidates. Here are a few of the most common mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
· Email address – Are you still using an AOL or Hotmail address from years ago? Do you have a “cute” or otherwise undecipherable email address? Or have you included your birth or graduation year? All these are no- nos! Feel free to keep that older email for personal use, but any email you use in your job search should include some variation of your first and last name and a Gmail, Outlook or other more current email provider.
· Terminology - Terminology changes over time. "Personnel" is now human resources or human capital. "Computer" skills are now technology. Since it’s common to add onto an existing resume, make sure you are using contemporary terms.
· Technology – Technology also changes over time. Make sure all technology listed is still commonly used and that you are personally still up to speed on it.
Font - Both the font and the format can make an instant impression on a recruiter or hiring manager. In general, Times New Roman is a dated font. Calibri, Garamond or Arial are more current.
Format – Are you using the same format you used 20 years ago? If so, it probably shows. A quick internet search will bring up numerous resume formats that will be much more contemporary. Use a more conservative format for positions/roles in conservative industries like finance, accounting or law. Use more creative formats for marketing, social media or technology roles.
Jobs Listed – Listing jobs you had back in the 70’s will hurt you more that it will help you.
Objective – Do you still have an “Objective” at the top of your resume – which focuses on what you are looking for vs. a “Profile” – which outlines the skills and expertise you bring to an employer? Today’s resume is about what you can do for a future employer…..not about what you are looking for.
· Online presence – Whether it’s a good LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, Instagram or Facebook posts, know that a future employer is going to do an internet search and expect to find something about you. Shying away from having an online presence will reflect poorly on you, especially in those positions where using these tools is required.
A good rule of thumb when making decisions on the areas above is to ask yourself – Does it help me? Does it hurt me? Or is it neutral? If it helps you, include it. If it hurts you, eliminate it. And, if it’s neutral, then you have to make a judgement call.
- Mary Beth Barrett-Newman, Career Coach, CRC Advisor and Board Member