These CV tips will help older workers highlight their skills – not their ages.
Finding a new job can be a torrid journey, regardless of your age. However, if you are over the age of 50, you may face additional barriers along the way.
According to a survey commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better, nearly half (46 per cent) of the more than 1,100 over-50 employees polled believe their age would disadvantage them in applying for a job, and one in five (18 per cent) have or have considered hiding their age in job applications. Their concerns are justified; according to a white paper published by charity organisation Age UK, once unemployed, the over-50s typically have longer spells of unemployment than any other age group.
While some MPs are calling for the government to do more to enforce age discrimination law and 'to be clearer that prejudice, unconscious bias and casual ageism in the workplace are unlawful', the fact remains: ageism is a reality in today's job market. If you're aged 50 or older and looking for work, don't let your concerns of age discrimination cause job-search paralysis. These tips will help you 'age-proof' your CV and draw employers' attention to the value you have to offer, rather than your age.
1. Focus on recent experiences
The further along you are in your career, the less relevant your earlier work experience becomes. Companies are most concerned with the details from your recent job history that are relevant to the vacancies they're filling, not your experience from 15 or more years ago. As a result, provide more information about the roles you've held in the past 10–15 years that are related to your current job search and less information about your earlier job history.
2. Rid your CV of older dates
Delete the dates related to work experience, education and certifications if they are 15 years or older. While you may want to consolidate older work experience in a separate section or a 'Career Note', including the dates of employment for these jobs is unnecessary. Similarly, it's important for your CV to include your older credentials, but not the year in which you earned them.
3. Restrict your CV to two pages
While there are some exceptions, most professionals should strive for a two-page CV – even those professionals with decades of experience. When you have so little time for your CV to impress employers, it's important to provide them with a succinct document that summarises your experiences, education and qualifications. To achieve this CV length, reduce jobs older than 15 years to the bare essentials: your job title, the organisation's name and its location. If you've worked in jobs that fall outside of the 15-year window and do not support your current job goals, you have the option to remove them completely from your CV.
4. Tailor your CV to the job at hand
Think of your CV as a marketing document, carefully curated to support your current career goals, rather than an endless list of everything you have done for the past 30-plus years. Instead of providing a generalised summary of your entire career history, focus on tailoring your CV's content to highlight your qualifications.
5. Optimise your CV with keywords
Seventy-five per cent of online applications are never reviewed by a human being, thanks to recruitment software known as an applicant tracking system (ATS). With this technology, employers can scan and analyse CVs and eliminate the least-qualified candidates for a role. To improve your CV's chances of passing through this digital screen and onto a human for review, make certain your document includes the appropriate keywords. If a word or phrase repeatedly shows up in the job adverts you're interested in, incorporate these terms into your CV.
6. Give your email address an upgrade
Older workers sometimes are seen as lacking technical savvy. Don't give employers a reason to believe you might fit this stereotype. Ditch your old AOL or Hotmail email account for a free, professional-looking Gmail address that incorporates your name.
7. Provide your mobile number
Thanks to advances in technology, you can job hunt from practically anywhere, at any time, provided you have good cell reception. Make it easier to quickly respond to employers' phone inquiries by providing the number for your mobile phone, rather than your landline, on your CV. By listing the number for your personal cell phone, you will also have control over the voicemail message recruiters may hear, as well as who answers important job-search related calls and when.
8. Showcase your technical proficiencies
Show employers that you've kept up with the latest tools and platforms related to your field by listing these competencies within your CV. If you're in a non-technical profession, create a small section towards the bottom of your CV that lists these technical proficiencies. If you work in a technical field, your CV will likely include a more prominent section towards the top to showcase your technical skills.
If you realise during your job hunt that many of the job adverts you're interested in require an understanding of a skill or tool you're not familiar with, look for ways to fill this CV gap. Seek out online courses or programmes at your local library or university that would allow you to gain this understanding and make you a more attractive candidate.
9. Validate your skills
It's not enough to simply state that you're great at managing people or that you possess a high financial acumen. You need to support these claims by providing a specific example, figure or case study in your work experience or education section that illustrates how you've used this ability to produce results.
At this point in your career, employers are more interested in what you've accomplished in each of your positions, rather than every single task you were assigned to complete. Draw the reader's eyes to the most important bits under each job description by bulleting your achievements and contributions that have benefited your previous employers. Whenever possible, quantify your results to provide additional context for the recruiter.
10. Aim for visual balance
If content is king in a CV, then design is its queen. How your CV details are formatted is just as important as the information it provides. To achieve a clean, polished CV that employers can quickly scan and understand, incorporate short blurbs and bullet points throughout the document. By employing these formatting elements – and avoiding overly elaborate designs – your reader will focus on what matters most: your qualifications.
Do you need help age-proofing your CV for the job search? Receive a free expert CV review today.