Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Executive Job Seekers Over 40

If you haven’t written a resume in the last decade or more, that’s a good thing.

That means you’ve been working in jobs that loved you as much as you have loved them. However, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in an executive job search, and you’re probably of an age where you wonder whether your years of experience is going to hurt or help. Your new resume won’t be anything like the resume you used to get your first (or perhaps your most recent) job. Times have changed for executive job seekers, and so have resume strategies. Read on, so you don’t make these top 10 executive resume mistakes:

  1. Writing “Resume” at the top of the first page. On the one hand, that’s overstating the completely obvious, and you’re wasting important resume real estate that could be used  more strategically (see #10 below). On the other, if you ever upload your resume to apply for jobs, that is to an electronic applicant tracking system (ATS), you’ll forever be known in the database as Resume No Last Name, which won’t  help you when a recruiter is looking for you.
  2. Including an I-want objective rather than a statement of value, (personal branding statement). Objectives are passé, as they focus on the candidate’s needs rather than the hiring manager’s requirements. Job seekers over 40 need to remember that until they are offered the position, everything they do or say in the job search process has to focus on solving the hiring manager’s pain, not their own.
  3. Including the dates of your college or university education. We can all subtract 22 from that year and get a sense of the applicant’s vintage. To avoid potential age discrimination, a job candidate should not telegraph her age on the resume.
  4. Not including an e-mail address. Older workers need to have a professional e-mail (not their company’s) for job search purposes. Including an e-mail shows that the candidate is not technology-averse and is available for communication at any time of day.
  5. Using a home telephone line. When a job hunter uses a home telephone number that is likely to be answered by children, it indicates to the hiring manager that the candidate might have certain liabilities, for example, insurance requirements or need for impromptu time off. As mobile phones are so prevalent and inexpensive, a job seeker over 40 should maintain mobile phone service, using a professional voice mail recording, that only she or he will be answering. For that matter, you don’t have to mention on your resume that the number you’re giving is your mobile number. People likely will expect you to use your mobile number, especially for direct accessibility but also for texting. Don’t have a mobile number? You can simulate having one, or add a separate number just for your job search at ZERO cost to you (this is my favorite job search hack—ask me about it. I’ve been using this hack for myself for almost a decade.).
  6. Writing a resume that is only 1 page when you have 3 pages’ worth of good, relevant experience. Let’s face it–hiring managers are likely to stop reading your resume after one or two pages if you are giving them boring details that don’t relate to their needs. But what if you have a lifetime’s worth of great, relevant experience? You absolutely should tell your future hiring manager about your great accomplishments, so they can see the answer to their problems in your professional history.
  7. Writing about more than 10 years’ worth of job roles (and balancing your breadth and depth of experience with #5 above). Hiring managers are focusing on what a candidate can do for them today—not what they were expected to do 20 years ago. Professionals over 40 should use resume real estate wisely and hit their most recent (or their most relevant) positions the hardest and give a fair amount of attention to 3–4 additional prior roles. If the candidate has a critical, relevant element of experience that is older than 10 years, he can include a line or two about it at the end of his executive experience section—without dates of employment.
  8. Not including a personalized (vanity) LinkedIn profile link. LinkedIn is the social medium most likely to be utilized by hiring managers and recruiters in the job search process. Candidates over 40 should take advantage of this free service and create a profile that makes a hiring manager want to pick up the phone. With that in mind, someone in the job market must create a vanity URL (available in the profile options) and put that link in the header of his resume.
  9. Writing about only soft skills and not about accomplishments. Soft skills are critical in any job, but would “great team player” be anything but an expectation for a hiring executive’s new employee? Job seekers over 40 must remember that reporting on accomplishments—the successes they’ve demonstrated for each job—is what gets hiring managers’ attention.
  10. Writing about only accomplishments and no soft skills (see #9 above). Challenge yourself to include the best of your experience by showing rather than telling your future hiring executive the half dozen reasons you’re the right choice to solve their problems right now.

“I’m an experienced executive—how do I prove it and avoid these critical resume mistakes as I go through my executive job search?”

Updated January 2017

Amy L Adler markets senior executives with persuasive executive resume writing, compelling LinkedIn profile development, and masterful job search coaching, so they can identify and obtain the executive career of their dreams.

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