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Writing Your Executive Resume & Avoiding the Age Gap

by Kim on February 6, 2015

Your Executive Resume – Avoid the Age Gap

If you’re a mature job seeker, (in your forties, fifties or sixties, depending on who you ask), there might be some instances in which you may be discriminated against, frequently because of preconceived assumptions that “older” workers will tire more easily, their ideas are antiquated, they’ll take more time off for health issues and/or won’t be able to grasp new concepts. However, you can shake off that age barrier by following some simple, yet essential steps to ensure that you’ll be perceived as a valuable employee who is right for the job vs. “too old” for the job.

Before automatically deciding that you’ve been been on the wrong end of the age “freeze out,” you might want to ask a trusted colleague or mentor for some honest feedback regarding the immediate impression and vibe you are portraying, either through your outdated executive resume, or personally. Does your executive resume focus on the past or present? Do you represent more like your grandfather or your 28-year old son, both extremes on the credibility issue? Is your hair style stuck in the fifties? Are you wearing clothes more than twenty years old? Does your business card portray a twenty-year old picture with a full head of dark hair vs. your now balding or greying head?  Do you possess an air of confidence or trepidation? Do you constantly bring up past successes while eschewing new ideas? Basically, you want to know if you immediately come across as “old.” Even though looks should not matter, you can’t control what others think, legal or not, when they meet you for the first time.

Whether or not you’ve found the right person to help you get a handle on your first impression, the following recommendations can certainly help steer you in the right direction once you land the interview.

During the interview process, you’ll want, and hopefully be given, the opportunity to provide examples of the strengths you convey; merely telling someone that you have strong financial analysis skills won’t mean much unless you can back those skills up with proof. It’s critical to be ready to demonstrate your knowledge in certain areas with concrete accomplishments and how they were achieved.  For example, if you’ve learned that the company is launching a new product, and you have product management experience, be ready to share that with them. Don’t overinflate, but certainly don’t shy away from showing the value you bring.

Be informative, but don’t talk your interviewer’s ear off. While it’s always a bonus when you hit it off immediately with anyone interviewing you, you don’t want to appear too chummy or get too personal. If you’re asked about outside interests, feel free to briefly answer and move on, even relating those interests to the job, if applicable. However, an in-depth, play-by-play about your latest weekend spent antiquing, may turn into a yawn fest while doing nothing to establish professionalism or your interest in the job. If asked about your family, which some people unfortunately still do, try not to gush about your grandchildren; they don’t need reminders that you are old enough to have a grandson who is captain of the basketball team.

Don’t forget to clearly state your enthusiasm for working for their organization, which means performing your due diligence on the company and focusing on a key point or two that directly relates how you can help solve their problems and/or why you feel as if you’d be a good fit. Don’t be a braggart, but be confident in your understanding of what it is they need and how you can help.

Dress for success, which is actually important at any age. If the last suit you wore is the tired old one you’ve been pulling out only for weddings and funerals for the past several years, you may want to go shopping after doing some research to see what is currently expected in today’s office attire.  Obviously, there are many types of office environments, so keep that in mind before you decide to show up in ripped jeans just because it’s a young, hip startup that you are looking to join. You may even consider hiring a wardrobe coach if fashion is not one of your strong points. The same goes for your hairstyle, which can date you if it’s a style taken from our grandparents; even your glasses can send the “older” message if you don’t understand what is fashionable, yet appropriate.

No matter what the situation, communication is the heart of any interview, whether you are discussing the Super Bowl or the position. However, it’s still important to remain up on current events and trends without reverting to the slang and jargon of the young. You can be relevant and in-the-know without coming across as trying too hard to appear younger than you are – not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not when you are trying to showcase your professional best in a frequently age-discriminatory job market.

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