“I’m a Viet Nam veteran (Air Force) that’s been out of work for almost 2 years. The last job I held was a Management Analyst with the Navy. I have an MBA and a BS in Computer Information Systems. I have sent applications and resumes to every state in the Union with the possible exception of Maine. While no one will admit it, employers are in violation of Equal Opportunity standards by not even considering an applicant that is over 50 years of age. Employment agencies and HR representatives advise you to leave dates and experiences off your resume so the employer won’t know or can’t figure out how old you are. Why doesn’t someone deal with “age discrimination” instead of treating applicants over 50 years old like a pair of old useless sneakers?” R.W., Phoenix, AZ
EEO Violation? I’m not going to convince you there is no age discrimination in the US; unfortunately, we still live in a society where I believe it occurs daily. For every business that discriminates, however, there are much more that do not.
Hiding or revealing. Although I can understand why the “employment agencies and HR representatives” advised you to omit dates, I don’t agree with them. A hiring manager who receives the document (without dates) will wonder if you’re hiding something. They’ll conclude age?
It is important to target positions that are WORTHY of your experience. Companies requiring numerous years of experience are expecting to interview AND hire an older professional. Consider yourself a bottle of fine, aged wine; you are not for everyone, and that is a good thing!
Have a professional review your document. Restructuring a resume can be a vital process to targeting a management or administrative position. Today’s resumes are designed keyword strong and reflect large amounts of key accomplishments. A document should be designed with the target position and industry in mind; weeding out all unrelated information (as much as possible).
Networking and lead generation. In your case, I would recommend networking and leads generation. Obtaining the ideal position still evolves around whom you know rather than classified and online ads, job boards, or career publications. Your local newspaper represents only 2% (on average) of the open positions available in your area. There is currently a huge – yet hidden – job market waiting to be discovered.
Executive recruiters and headhunters. I strongly believe in having a backup plan. Once the resume has been restructured to represent your IDEAL position, the next step is to pass it on to everyone on your leads list and to placement agencies. The rule of thumb: expect a 5-10% return on a targeted marketing campaign. For example, if you apply to 100 recruiters and headhunters, you should receive up to 10 responses. Obviously, these numbers are not the gospel, just a guideline.
Remain positive. Conducting a job search for long periods of time can lead a candidate to wonder ‘what’s wrong with me.’ It is important to not become depressed or down about the search because this negativity can translate into employment-related conversations. You are a highly skilled and valuable professional!
Recap. Target Resume; Network / Leads; Quality Companies / Placement Agency; Consistent Follow-up
“I am a 40-something individual working in my third different career field. I would like to begin interviewing in a previous career field. How do I get employers to consider me for an interview and take me seriously, especially since it has been years since I’ve actually been in that field?” – J.D., Dayton, OH
Having a scattered career is not uncommon in today’s marketplace. Individuals, in general, enjoy new and exciting experiences, including performing numerous career changes, until they find the one best suited for them.
When trying to resurrect a previous position, it becomes necessary to utilize a functional style resume. A functional resume is not the format of choice amongst hiring managers; however, a functional layout can highlight certain skills and qualifications necessary for the next career move. If the document is designed properly, the hiring manager will pay no attention (or slightly) to the format or to the person’s current position. The intentions are to show the reader how qualified the candidate is prior to them getting to the actual work experience.
The resume will not be the only “key player” during this transition; a cover letter can be just as vital. It can briefly explain: a) Reason for move b) Career goals (relating to the company/position) c) Willingness to work part-time or “as needed” basis; primarily to set foot in the door d) Express why you like the industry/position.
Start the job search by:
(a) Contacting previous employers you initially received experience from (assuming you left them on good terms)
(b) Listing industry related companies; contact them by phone or fax; notify them of qualifications and relay that you would like to “re-enter” this field
(c) This type of career change can be the most difficult. The candidate must change their mindset and begin targeting an industry and position that hasn’t been part of their daily life for some time.