Ageism happens – especially in the media. If you’re moving into your fifties, you’ve probably seen it firsthand. Perhaps the easy job or sales interviews you used to get are harder to come by now. Maybe it’s fewer auditions or business presentations. Some have see outright discrimination working in a culture that worships youth. Whatever your experience (and you’re bound to have one sooner or later) here’s a few ideas that will keep your resume – and you – looking younger:
1) Get some new pictures. Especially if you’re an actor or executive, headshots matter. Personally, I think most people should invest in them because you never know when you’ll need good pictures. You might conduct a conference workshop, write an article, or do something else that requires a headshot. Stop using that shot from Disneyland your brother-in-law took with the cheap digital camera. Invest in yourself and find a good headshot photographer.
2) Dump the graduation dates from your resume. The farther away those dates get, the older you look. Unless you’re in academia, the specifics about your high school or college education really don’t matter anymore. You graduated and majored in X. Great. Leave it there.
3) Experience is great, but not that much experience. Remove your early jobs from the resume. Focus on your more recent positions, projects, and career choices. Keep the resume at one page if possible, and leave out your earlier stuff – especially if it’s not directly related to the position you’re pursuing.
4) Get younger recommendations. Certainly you want the most influential and powerful people in your industry to recommend you. But if you can find younger influencers, all the better. This let’s your prospective employer know that you hang with a younger crowd.
5) Keep your presentation current. Hopefully, your resume has a little style, and doesn’t look like it was typed on an 1985 IBM Selectric. (Remember the little font ball?) Don’t go overboard, but reflect current resume standards and styles. Same if you have a personal or company logo. Give it a refresh and keep it current. Let your employer know that you’re not a dinosaur.
6) Create different resumes for different jobs. In a media-driven culture, it’s about the niche. Have multiple resumes on your computer, customized for different types of industries, positions, or careers. Don’t assume one will work for the other. Focus, focus, focus.
7) Create a Facebook or Myspace page, a blog, or a website. This generation loves technology, so you need to be fluent in the language. Blogs, social networking pages, and websites show people you get it, and it makes a real difference in your perception. I have friends that still don’t have a cell phone or an email account, and they’re about to find out how difficult job hunting is going to be for them.
8) Re-think your wardrobe. Find someone younger than you (preferably who understands what’s expected from your industry) and get their wardrobe advice. PLEASE don’t go overboard and try to look like a 20 something. But learn what’s stylish and expected today. Throw out the offending pieces of your current wardrobe and update the rest. Sure there’s an expense involved, but perception matters, and it’s tough to change a first impression.
It’s not about bait and switch. It’s about presenting the most positive face to the world. Certainly we’d love to live in a world where what’s inside counts, but that’s not the world where I work. So make the best of it, and chances are, it will refresh you as well. A new look often changes your attitude as well as your perception!
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