Tech & Work

Members offer resume advice on listing age and certs

De-emphasizing age and how to highlight certifications on your resume are issues you and other managers face when looking for a new position. Check out the advice offered by TechRepublic members.


TechRepublic member Columbus MSCE, who is “over 50,” has personal experience with how age may be a hurdle for some IT managers seeking a new job.

“Three years ago, I was looking for a job. I have excellent credentials, great references, I’m certified (CNA, MCSE) and have meaningful experience. After three months, no progress. I removed all age indicators from my resume and also dropped my job history prior to 1990,” Columbus MCSE wrote in response to a recent TechRepublic article. “I resubmitted my resume and had six interviews and three job offers within three weeks. The only thing that had changed was the removal of the age information.” Columbus MCSE even sent his new resume to companies who had ignored his first resume. “They ALL offered me interviews,” Columbus MCSE said.

Age discrimination was a key theme for other members who responded to the article. Many agreed that a well-crafted resume can help open the doors to employment but wanted to know how to handle tricky resume information related to age and certifications.

User Deleted said age bias is alive and well, despite laws against it. “Just because there's a law against it doesn't mean discrimination isn't rampant in many categories,” User Deleted wrote.

Member DevMgr added: “I've seen quite a few articles about discrimination in IT against those over 40 (with that cutoff moving lower) despite the need of most employers for experienced, seasoned professionals. Stating the year in which one received one's degree(s) on the resume seems like an invitation for the screener to do a little math and figure out the applicant's age, potentially leading to one's resume being discarded. Is it so bad to leave the degree off the resume and simply answer the question if it comes up?”

According to Chet Bloom, the business development manager at Priority Staffing Solutions, Inc., estimating the age of a job candidate isn’t difficult for hiring managers inclined to do so.

Since there are many ways to estimate a candidate’s age, Bloom said there’s little reason to hide it on your resume. “I think that you come out guns blazing, put it on the table, [say] this is who I am,” said Bloom.

If an organization doesn’t hire you because of your age, you probably wouldn’t want to work for them in the first place, he added.

Prefbid II suggested that candidates should be wary of companies that may be discriminating against older employees.

"Instead of attacking the problem of age discrimination by trying to hide how old you are, how about putting the problem back in the court of the employer,” Prefbid II wrote. “Don't worry how the psychology of the screener may be impacted—worry about how your skills are being presented. I have hired many people older than myself (one near retirement age) and I knew very well when I saw his resume that he was close to that age (college in the '60s and retired military). He was more than what I was looking for or even had hoped I could get. Hire? You bet. …Would you rather work for someone like me who appreciates hard-earned talent or someone who you have to trick into believing you are under 30? A company that discriminates against the older workers is not worth bothering with. They may have a job opening today, but they'll most likely be out of business in a few years.”

Certification questions
Many TechRepublic members have also joined discussions to ask questions about the value of certifications and how to highlight them, or how to hide a lack of certs, on a resume.

Zenberniejoined a discussion and wrote that the resumes of many qualified IT pros are passed over by HR directors simply because they lack certifications.

IT managers seeking employment are likely to encounter some hiring managers who value certifications over hands-on experience, while others believe that certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Bloom suggested that you keep this fact in mind and list your certifications and other skills together, making sure that what you list is backed up in your work history.

IT managers seeking employment who don’t have a technical certification should let experience do the talking, Bloom said.

“If you don’t have certifications or you just don’t have the room [on your resume], you really don’t need to put it in there.” Bloom said. "What’s really going to stand out is the actual experience, the hands-on experience, that you have within the text of your resume.”

The use of bulleted lists and charts can highlight certification information without taking up valuable resume space, said Christy Miller of Seattlejobs.org, a nonprofit collaborative recruiting network.

Writing your resume to reflect your skill set should be top priority, but lacking certifications should not keep you from finding a job. Try to create a balance in your resume between certifications and experience.

A mix of certifications with relevant technical and business experience is the best bet for an IT manager looking for a new position, according to TechRepublic columnist Kevin Rosenberg. “It’s imperative that the IT professional not write an overtly technical resume when they reach the ranks of manager,” Rosenberg said. “They need to address the technology, but they also need to be able to express that they understand the business decisions concerning IT.”

Whether you leave graduation dates out or place less emphasis on your certifications, the bottom line is that the resume should be in your own words. “It’s a very personal document. It’s best if it’s in your own words,” said Harrie Anne Kessler, also of Seattlejobs.org. “Ultimately, what you say and how it looks is up to you because you need to be comfortable with it.”

Resume strategy
How have you presented your age or certifications on a resume? Do you think your approach worked? Why or why not? Let us know by sending us an e-mail or starting a discussion below.

 

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