If you’re over 50, do you worry that your age might hurt your job prospects? Sadly, you could be right. As my Next Avenue editor Richard Eisenberg recently wrote, it now takes the average 55-plus job seeker seven to eight months to find a job, compared with just 15 weeks for job hunters between 20 and 24.
Ageism persists, even in this tight labor market. But according to career pros Jan Melnik (president and chief job-search strategist at Absolute Advantage) and Marie Zimenoff (CEO of Resume Writing Academy), there are smart steps you can take to age-proof your résumé and LinkedIn profile to improve the odds of landing a job.
These women recently shared their best practices during a webinar for the Résumé Writing Academy I attended, called Eluding Ageism: Writing Strategies for Clients 50+. If you’re a 50-plus job seeker, or may be sometime soon, I think you’ll want to hear what they said. Here are 12 of my favorite tips from Zimenoff, who is CEO of the Career Thought Leaders Consortium, and Melnik, who is on its board.
Remove college graduation dates, except in cases of a newly minted degree or certificate. Melnik said she has no issue with the inconsistency of showing a recent date with a new degree and omitting an old one.
Condense the résumé down to two pages max. Your most recent 10 to 15 years of experience matter most, so you’ll want to highlight those, while condensing prior experience into a few sentences or bullet points. As an example: “Earlier Career Background: Senior Public Accounting experience (5-plus years) with two regional CPA firms.”
Replace older font styles, such as Times New Roman or Garamond, with more contemporary fonts like Tahoma, Verdana or Cambria.
Eliminate double spacing between sentences (unless you’re in academia). They’re a dead giveaway that you came of age during the typewriter era.
Omit the Objective Statement in favor of a Career Summary section. The career summary should showcase your key selling points in four or five bulleted statements.
Avoid phrases that needlessly date you, like “30-plus years of experience.” Use “20-plus years of experience” instead (25-plus max). This makes your point without highlighting your advanced age.
Remove your street address and add hyperlinks to your LinkedIn address and, if you have one, your professional website.
Replace an AOL or Hotmail e-mail address with one from Gmail. While you’re at it, avoid using numbers in your e-mail address that could be construed as a birth year (e.g. Jason1955@aol.com).
Omit very basic tech skills like Microsoft Word or e-mail that employers assume all applicants have mastered.
If you’ve spent the bulk of your career with one employer, don’t list the full date range at the top of the résumé (e.g. XYZ Co. 1979-present). Instead, list dates and responsibilities for your most recent positions and consolidate your earliest roles without mentioning dates.
Your LinkedIn profile
Rewrite your summary in the first person. This is a small, but significant, change that will make your LinkedIn presence feel more personal, conversational and — most important — modern. While earlier versions of LinkedIn profiles were almost always written in the third person, in recent years, the pendulum has swung in favor of first-person narratives.
Upgrade your photo. A professional photo is best, but if you can’t afford one, you might be able to take advantage of a free photo shoot offered through a local library or career center. Use a recent photo (no 1980s glam shots), avoid distracting backgrounds and always remember to smile.
This article originally appeared on NextAvenue.org.