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Does Your Resume Say “Old”?

OK, executives … what’s wrong with being your age?

Absolutely nothing! If you are pursuing senior-level jobs, you don’t want your resume to make you look like a 20-year-old.

But there’s no reason to advertise exactly how many years over 50 you are, either. You don’t want to invite age discrimination or focus too much attention on experiences from decades ago.

So here are some tips for downplaying your specific age on your resume … without being dishonest and without diminishing the richness of your experience.

  • Focus most of the attention (i.e., most of the space) on your most recent 2, 3, or 4 positions.
  • Briefly summarize your early “foundational” positions – the stepping-stones that led you to where you are today. Identify what was most valuable about each position and include it, without the same level of detail you’ve spent on more recent roles.
  • Feel free to omit dates from early experience and graduation years.
  • Do not detail your college activities.

Not just the content, but the structure and appearance of your resume can also send the “old” signal. To avoid that:

  • Make sure everything is written in succinct, easy-to-skim, quick bites of information … not long, blocky text.
  • Include links to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, online portfolio, or other relevant sites where readers can learn more about you if they’re interested.
  • Use one phone number … your cell phone.
  • Write a short, unique, branded introduction – not an objective statement and not a collection of attributes and adjectives that could describe thousands of other executives (and was cutting-edge about 15 years ago).
  • Freshen the appearance of your document, especially if you’ve been simply updating what you created 5 or 10 years ago. Consider a new font, the addition of some color, and other design changes so your resume signals today and not

In 20+ years of working with executives, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m xx years old and I look every bit of it!” No – it’s always, “… but I don’t look it.”

Your resume, just like your physical appearance, should appear fresh, energetic, and highly professional.

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