IT Employment

Job hunting: Put a new spin on 'old'

For older workers looking for a job, age bias (even if it's unconscious) is hard to fight. But there are things you can do to present your age and experience in a way that elevates your personal brand.

For older workers looking for a job, age bias (even if it's unconscious) is hard to fight. But there are things you can do to present your age and experience in a way that elevates your personal brand.

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The only thing more depressing than being laid off is being laid off when you're an "older" worker. It is one of the more unfortunate aspects of our culture -- and especially in the IT world -- that age can be a detriment in how you're perceived by potential employers.

The unspoken assumption, even from people who think they are enlightened, is that older workers are set in their ways and have a static knowledge set. Of course, this is bunk. But the fact remains that the onus falls on the older worker to dispel this belief.

So how do you convey your years of experience as a good thing? What can you do to present your age in a way that elevates your personal brand instead of being a detriment? Here are a few tips that might help.

First, you might have cut your teeth in IT by repairing IBM Selectrics, but you don't have to mention that in your resume. List only experience that would be relevant to the job you're seeking. This is good advice for any job seeker, but more so with the older ones.

It's tempting to use the word "seasoned" when describing yourself in a cover letter, but that attribute is only appealing if you're a hamburger. A better word to use is "accomplished," backed up with specific examples of projects you've participated in, the more recent the better. "Accomplished" implies that you actively participated in endeavors and didn't just sit back while experiences were "sprinkled" on you. (Can't let go of an analogy, can I?)

One definite advantage of being an older worker is that you have concrete examples of projects you're worked on. Be sure to qualify your involvement in terms of goals met and money saved.

Make sure you're current with new technology. Some old stand-by skills, like COBOL, will still be relevant. But it's important that you show you're up on new technolgies that you may have resisted before, like social networks and mobile technology.

It's good to put forth the appearance of eagerness. You may have been around for a while, but no one wants a jaded, world-weary person working for them. Show that you're open to learning and that the desire to explore new things doesn't stop in your twenties.

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About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

117 comments
ivan
ivan

Consultants should not see themselves as job hunters ? that?s the mindset of someone looking for full time employment. To succeed in consulting, you have to position yourself as someone who provides value added services when and where needed. Also, to really succeed in this line of business, you need to develop a very large network of connections. In many respects, it?s a numbers game. The more people you know, the more likely you are to land a new contract. Regards, Ivan Walsh www.ivanwalsh.com

wrlang
wrlang

Hiring people put out jobs with a picture in their heads of who they want to fill that position. It includes age, weight, height, dress, complexion, hair style, part of town you live in, financial position, etc.. Even though it is discriminatory to consider many of these factors, that doesn't stop hiring people from using them and trying to find out about them through facebook, myspace, and other clandestine means. It would actually be very helpful and save tons of time if hiring people could tell the truth and put out an ad that said - We're looking for a single white male between the ages of 25 and 30 that has at least 7 years of Linux engeineering experience and doesn't mind working 60 to 80 hours a week and be on-call 24/7/365 because we don't have any project management resources to control the projects we undertake. All resumes are designed to give hiring people the above information under the disguise of work history, accomplishments, name/address, and education. I've even had them ask for me to volunteer my social security number abd authorize a background check prior to an interview. While I've never been without a job, I do interview rather regularly to keep my resume up to date and keep informed of new hiring tactics. I went into one interview having only put pertinent work history in the application which went back about ten years. When I arrived at the interview the very young HR person was visibly upset and the first question was about incomplete work history. I responded that I had put all the pertinent work history in and when interrogated further I asked how my being a forklift driver in 1978 had any value for a project manager position? They wanted to verify that I got a degree only a few years before because that usually indicates a younger person. They obviously would never have considered me if I had put my entire work history in the resume. Luckily I wasn't entirely interested in that job, which probably showed through as well. My point is that there are no set rules and things that shouldn't matter do matter so luck and the open mindedness of the hiring people are your only hope when you're and older worker or a very young worker. If you really need to get your foot in the door, hide your facebook and myspace accounts and anything else that will give away your age or outside work interests that may be undesireable. Really look hard at the job description for all the code phrases that tell you they don't want an older worker so you don't waste your time with them. for exampe, Looking for someone with 3-5 years experience is code for a younger worker, while looking for at least 7 years experience means an older worker is acceptable. Keep up on the game strategies.

colin
colin

I am 56 so I have had a few age related issues with recruitment, and I just draw a comparison to the pilot that landed the airliner in the Hudson river. He was a veteran pilot and about my age, If it had been a younger pilot just out of flight school the result could have been very different but age and experience count for a lot

ghowser
ghowser

Quite frankly, I've lost a job because they were looking for someone "in their 20's or 30's" and the idiot had the nerve to say that in the interview. I have interview hundreds of job seekers and know better than to make a remark like that. I offered to let him keep working there after my lawyer and I owned the place. I would have sued but I didn't want the job that much. I want to warn everyone that if you make a legal issue of age discrimination you might be killing your own career. One of my friends took part in a sex discrimination law suit and never worked as a telephone engineer again. I know it's not right. I know it's not legal, but be careful how you handle it because you might be shooting yourself in the foot. White and pink haired but I know what I'm doing.

Spiritusindomit
Spiritusindomit

'Old People' brought this on themselves. I've worked with plenty of people who discounted me because I was young and female. I actually had a guy walk up to me once and say 'honey, get me a coffe,' like I was a secretary, who just happened to be usurping the chief architect's chair. If you aren't a typical old person who *is* set in their ways, the onus is on you to prove it. Stereotypes don't exist because they have no basis in fact, and old people tend to think there's no possible way anyone younger than them can possibly know as much, which is dangerous, especially in IT where information more than 2 years old is out of date and 5 years old is irrelevant.

herrmc
herrmc

I have been in IT for 25 years. I did actually work on Selectrics in the beginning a little. In 25 years I have not once had to look for a job, even though I have moved to different jobs as they were offered. I am constantly amazed at the people in IT who are so ill equiped to perform IT work, I believe that what is being termed as a "downturn" is actually a purging. I am not pretty... I am overweight... have back problems, and walk with a limp... but I still have job opportunities available to me... I am very good at the things that I do, and have a good reputation for it... The "Botox" wannabes are just struggling to get a piece of the pie without the real qualifications.

lori
lori

I thought the advice given in this piece was good. I'm 44 with a nice stripe of white hair and lots of laugh lines, but my resume is always pared-down and focused on the job I applied for, and I show up for interviews with eagerness, an open notebook, and a can-do attitude. What employer wouldn't want an experienced person who's open, friendly, and willing to do whatever it takes to make them successful? These qualities have nothing to do with age.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

I sat down and wrote what I felt would be the resume I would like to see as a hiring manager. It listed each of my skills, my academic support, the key areas for my target jobs and within those areas some illustrative accomplishments. Then it listed all my employers, dates and titles without going into detail. After all, I thought, being told five times that I had installed one more GL system (successfully and with cudos) didn't make a great deal of sense. And after 30 years in IT (plus prior experience), there are very few things I haven't done more than once. It was in fact, a functional resume. Cool -- standard format for a senior body -- nothing unusual, odd or otherwise. Every headhunter I talked to responded that they had to have a chronological resume listing every job and every project I had worked on. And usually they sent me a sample ... of someone with less than two years experience. Inevitably when I met these people they were under 25 and with very little experience. (I have met some exceptions ... and they tend to be just as confused about what to use as I am.) In short, they had been trained to read a "sweet spot" resume -- someone with 2-5 years experience -- not a senior, manager or executive resume. And they couldn't make the leap. The problem is that these are the gatekeepers ... and frankly they don't know their jobs, they're not being trained in their niche, and they make the initial decision. The fact that we've now dumped technology in between has made the situation worse. No keywords -- no findee! I've come to the conclusion, now that employers routinely receive 1000s of resumes for a job, that a) you'll never please everybody and that b) resumes no longer work as a sales tool. Glen Ford

egreenberg
egreenberg

I haven't read the other posts so forgive me if someone has already said this, but I feel that the premise of this article is a bunch of bunk, this nuanced and fullcourt press to convince some idiot that someone in IT who is older is not at a disadvantage. I think that older IT tech folks ought to band together and compete against the genius who thinks it's better to hire cheaper less experienced staff. And don't think that this same sentiment doesn't exist left to right across the organizational chart. I really do think that in this recession older professionals of all stripes are missing a one time opportunity to form start-ups to compete against vulnerable, understaffed, underskilled establishments in virtually every sector of the economy. Hey, maybe I should start a Facebook for this purpose.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Some good advice. But the fact is that with some companies age bias is gonna hit you below the belt no matter what you do. Yeah, its technically illegal. But as we all know, there are plentiful and endless ways around that little problem. I have seen it personally, and have long time friends who've also faced it. And there really isn't much you can do about it. Unless the company or hiring person who is exhibiting the behavior is just dumber than a box of rocks. For most, they know to find a DIFFERENT reason to not hire you, or to fire you. A reason that's not covered by the anti-age discrimination laws. I just accept it as fact, and move on when faced with such issues. Figuring that its probably a place I'd not really want to work for anyway. Not all such places even realize, consciously, that they're engaging in age discrimination. The fact is, some of em just have it in the back of their minds that older workers are fixed in their ways, don't accept change readily, aren't very good or fast at learning new skill sets, and so forth. Which is TRUE ... for some. But not for everyone and these things should be judged on an individual basis as versus a class or generality basis. Be that as it may. It is what it is. I don't waste my time arguing with or trying to change the mind of prejudiced or bigoted people. Nor stupid people. Of course, there is the "other" sort of age discrimination. Where the problem is not just your literal age. Its a matter of your skill and experience level, and your wage expectations. It is a fact, and I have personal knowledge of several instances, that some companies have made the decision that they'd rather hire a lessor skilled/experienced person, at a MUCH lower wage. And put up with the inevitable mistakes, blunders, and so forth, plus time wasted on a steep learning curve. It's just a numbers game. A friend of mine is engaged in such an issue right now. At his level of skill and knowledge, the company he works for used to have 5 people. Now there are two. Initial installs, wiring pulls, terminations, equipment setups and initial programming, and so forth are now done solely by what can be pretty accurately described as low paid, unskilled labor. There are a lot of mistakes and errors. But when calculating total costs, the company he works for has it figured out that it is cheaper to use those unskilled people, and then have a couple "old hands" come in and fix things and make em right. Than is is to have it done right in the first place. My friend even admits this is correct. The real problem, as he sees it, is that his regular customers are getting really, really miffed. THEY, don't like the change. They aren't happy with the idea that when a new system is installed, it almost certainly isn't gonna work right at first. And that my friend is gonna get repeat call backs to the site to fix this or that. The customers aren't unhappy with my friend, they know him and trust him. They're not happy with the new way of doing things that introduces start-up delays. Initial errors and problems. And so forth for some period of time until he gets everything debugged and straightened out. In fact, several are now asking him about the idea that he start up his own business so they can contract directly to him. Or, some have offered to hire him on as in-house staff. That's what yah get when the accountants and MBA's are in total charge and all that counts is the bottom line. Can we gain 1% on net profits by doing it this way as versus that? Yes? Okay, that's what we'll do. And so it happens. Until and unless the customers b*tch enough, and/or take their business elsewhere. Likewise there is the issue with the "over qualified" thing. Gad, what the heck does THAT mean? Yeah, some guys and gals, if unemployed will jump at the first job opportunity and then "jump ship" as soon as the employment situation improves and they see opportunities to get a bigger paycheck. But I'm not at all convinced this is the majority situation. I know too many folks, personally, who'll take a job they're MORE than qualified to take, just to get a toe in the door, with expectations they'll stay there and move up the ladder when the time and opportunity presents itself. Or, sometimes, that's the level of work, and type of work which that person most enjoys. And the decrease in pay/position is worth it to them in order to do the kind of work that person likes best. I've seen this more than a time or two. BTDT, myself. Was management, was GOOD at management. Was accelerated, in promotions, over my peers. BUT ... didn't really like the job and it's responsibilities and duties. The fact is, I'm happiest when making something new, or fixing something that doesn't work. That's just me. I'm an engineer/tech by disposition and natural tendency. I like to hands on build or fix things. So I quit a managerial job, and went looking for a kind of job that endless folks told me I was "over qualified" for. I really got tired of that. Just like I got tired of folks looking at me and quipping "Aren't you a little ... old ... to be wanting to haul around a tool bag, meters, and such?" My usual answer was either, "Kiss my *ss, Idiot !" or something even more rude. Or, "Yeah, maybe you think so, but the fact is that this is the level and kind of work I LOOK FORWARD TO AND ENJOY. It makes me wake up each day and look forward to going to work as versus wondering if I can call in sick or take a vacation day because I'm really, really tired of doing what I've been doing." My point is ... that older workers often know their mind better than younger workers. And if that older worker is enthusiastic about a particular job, and motivated to WANT it ... he or she will probably produce better results for you than a younger person who is just "looking for a job". Even if the job in question is beneath the skills levels of that older person. That, "You're over qualified." thing might have some validity when considering a younger person. It almost certainly is meaningless when applied to the older worker. It's pretty hard to panic or intimidate the over 50 crowd. By that age, MOST (not all) have seen troubled times before, and lived through the experience. So if they're talking to yah, inquiring about a job offer, it's almost certain they're serious and THAT is the job they're after and willing to take and do their best at. Ever watched the "door greeters" at WalMart? The young ones ... tend to be half hearted at best, and to put forth minimal effort. OTOH, the older workers who've taken such a position? They're almost annoying in their enthusiasm and helpfulness. They are there, most of em, because they WANT to be. They like what they're doing. I have a friend who is one such. He is VASTLY over qualified for such a job. Has a a couple of college degrees. Worked for IBM for years. But then had an accident that crippled him up pretty much. He has severe back and nerve damage. Could stay at home. Has more than enough income for that, between disability, savings, stocks and bonds from IBM, etc. But sitting around home drives him nuts. And ... he LIKES people. And likes helping them. Applied for and was rejected by WalMart a number of times, for a position as a Greeter. He persisted. And finally one manager, at one particular store, gave him the opportunity. My friend jumped at it and gave it his best. He limps around. Needs a cane in order to walk. And his speech is far from perfect due to the nerve damage. BUT ... he is so d*mn pleasant and enthusiastic in his greetings. And he spent so much time learning the store, its products, and where they are at. That many a customer wrote letters to WalMart saying that one of the reasons they go there (to that particular store) so often is JUST BECAUSE ... of that fellow. He smiles, he is helpful, he obviously LIKES his job, and wants to be there. And that while he is pretty hard to understand as concerns his speech, if yah listen close ... he'll steer yah right. For the best deal, just the right product, or whatever. Get my point? I, myself, am not the most modern, "with it", and in tune person. But, for what I do, I won't steer yah wrong and what I deliver will be what I promised. Period, end of subject. Get my point? For the "older" worker, beat the young pups at their own game. Where I work now, I'm an ancient fossil. But 98% of the time "my way" beats out the young pup's way. That extra 2% is important. It's how we advance. But if the young pup never properly learns that first 98%, we take a step backwards. Just some thoughts of mine. Worth no more than that.

chris
chris

...so they said, "You're overqualified." and I said, "That's OK, I'm an underachiever!" (rimshot) Seriously folks, while interviewing, there were a few evil HR directors that questioned (in a suspicious tone) why I was with the same company for 19 years. After hearing the same story from several of my former coworkers, it seems loyalty and persistence are no longer considered assets.

Craig_B
Craig_B

I worked at the same company for 23 years and was let go. The first couple of weeks were an adjustment period. An adviser told me that I was given an opportunity to change my direction. Woo-Hoo, this was not a loss but an opportunity! I used this time to spend more time with my family, reflect and refine want I really wanted. I started reading the book "Write It Down, Make It Happen (Knowing What You Want ?And Getting It!)" by Henriette Anne Klauser. I realized I was already doing many things in the book, though a little less formally. I started doing some of the exercises in the book and continued with my own as well. I wrote down 11 elements of my future job on a white board in a prominent location. My commute is within 30 minutes. The organization helps the community, the earth, humanity in some way. The organization is a private or non-profit, good company. I work with people and technology, I help people and I grow in the light of God. I have time for my family and life outside of work. I use my creative talents to help the organization and people. I am a good fit for the organization and visa-versa. The organization provides good benefits and salary. The environment of the organization is pleasant. I have a good boss who is understanding and compassionate. I am in a full time permanent position and I can stay as long as I like. Lastly I summed up everything into one statement "I AM in a rewarding career that is just a short commute away". I printed that out and taped it on my computer desk so I saw it frequently. I meditated on the elements with focus on the summary phrase. I prayed that I would find a job that is right for me and right for the organization that is the highest good possible for all. Now that the spiritual elements were taken care of, I also did the leg work of looking through the job boards. I had posted my resume on some job boards and I scanned the other boards. I talked to every person that I could, even if I knew I was not interested in the job. Each step along the way I learned something that helped me move closer to my goals. I applied for jobs that reasonably matched what I wanted and a few that were a little outside of what I wanted. I stumbled across and ad for my new company, it sounded good though some elements were a little stretch for my present skills, I applied anyhow. Using what I learned from previous interviews and experiences, I went on the interviews and did quite well and was offered the job shortly thereafter. When reviewing all my elements of what I wanted in a job, I got a hit on every single one of them.

rita
rita

Great advice. In my work with the 50+ or nearly 50 career transitioners, I point out the importance of being "contemporary" - to dispel the myth of being "dated." Read FastCompany magazine, know the latest trends in your field, take a course or weekend training...Show that you're still in the game! Dr. Rita Carey, www.rcmassociates.com

JimTheGeordie
JimTheGeordie

I spent 11 years as a contractor working for a major Telco, where two of us ran a call centre support system that IBM estimated needed at least seven people. Although quite small, it was one of the Telco's most profitable units. eventually I was told to go, as policy on the employment of contractors to run major systems had changed. I had great difficulty getting employment and I eventually came to realise that over the last decade, the market place had become commoditised. Everyone wanted someone who used a particular product last week. I eventually created a nich applying metadata principles to databases for small business. My advice is; do not get bogged down in the field where you operate at present. Pick some new technology that interests you and do the odd training course. Even if you have no commercial experience in the product, you will be able to talk the talk and imply that your previous experience will add value to your new-found knowledge. Oh, and by the way, I was 70 when I left the Telco and am still working profitably (though technically pensioned off) at the age of 75.

wlportwashington
wlportwashington

Good article but way off base as far as my area of the country is concerned. I was out of work for a very long time and went on countless of interviews. During which I have heard every single discriminatory remark used by the interviewer as to why they would not consider me for employment. The bulk of the remarks were that I was too old. It is illegal but it happens. I was able to win numerous EEOC cases for age discrimination, but none of them landed me a job, nor did any attorney wish to pursue them. The companies would rather hire someone in their early 20's and not have to pay family benefits, a much lower wage than what an experienced professional would command, and if they don't come to work because they were hung over, easily replaced in a heart beat. Wrong thinking, but it is true. By me, about 50% of the I.T. workers are unemployed and most of them over 40. With a few gray hairs, or a wrinkle or two or maybe a little extra around the middle gives your age away. That means you would want some serious compensation. Again, companies would rather hire a much younger person. So rethinking about getting new certifications or upgading your knowledge of programming will not hide the fact that you are older.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I got into this industry at an older age than a lot of IT professionals. I wanted to do something different than factory work. I managed to break in but actually started in a factory assembling servers :(. Even though I'm currently stuck in help desk support; my employer hires younger people most of the time( and mostly male ). Younger peoples minds are like sponges. They take in a lot and do it quickly. But what they don't so so well are some basics like good customer relations, coming to work on-time, and finishing what you start. They also fall victim to being over-worked and not saying no out of fear. It's true that customer service jobs are just a bump in the road for a lot of them so they're not going to take it seriously. They're planning on being the greatest sysadmin ever and hopefully make a lot of money doing it. It's a worthy goal. Some of us cannot follow though. As an older worker; I find that my tolerance for abuse is very low. I also find that my personal time away from work has become more valuable than being available for overtime on a whim. Money is nice but you can't get that time back when you have a family. I decline to do it often unless cornered by the management staff. However, I do more than minimum it takes to do the job so I don't have too many unpleasant conversations with the leadership. Thanks for the article. It put a lot in perspective. I am going to be actively looking for another job soon. My current situation is less than desirable(I work nights). I've been wondering how I'm going to approach interviews with my current skill set. I don't want to trade one bad situation for another. I'm physically too tired for that now. I want to be comfortable, have benefits, work stability, and be challenged. This economy is the pits but this is what I want. Thanks for posting the article. It's good head food :).

Observant
Observant

I agree with some earlier comments. Unless you are pursuing a career that prides itself on publishing (tech articles, academia, etc) keep it down to 2 pages. I receive over 500 resumes per job posting and don't have time to read a lot of bloviating. If you send me a 3 pager, it had better blow me away in the top have of the first page (you can call this "above the fold") otherwise, it heads back to HR to file away. If what you have to say is relevant and can say it in two pages, I MAY ask for a more comprehensive CV but it had still better be relevant (e.g., if I'm looking for a COBOL program, not really interested in several years dealing with ADA!)

gary
gary

Personally, I don't buy into the idea that a resume is the road to a job. It is your personal and professional relationships that bring opportunities to your attention. I once did contracting work for company that required that candidates be interviewed by the four founders. Of course, they were young, dynamic professionals whose wallets and brains happened to be located under their belts. They hired a receptionist who could speak several languages. She was young and dynamic like them. Also, she has a back-side that was perfection. However, she was a flirt who never listened to the company's voice mail. The founders almost hired another young and beautiful woman to be the webmaster. She had a chest that would put the girls on Baywatch to shame. She could not set up either IIS or Apache. In fact, she had no idea of how to backup the website that she was working on. Both women looked great on paper and the founders saw in them what they wanted to see. One day, the office manager and I were reviewing resumes for the position of marketing director. One resumes looked particularly good. The education and experience was right. The photo that was on the resume (yes, outside of the US you stick your photo on the resume) was shocking. Another beautiful young blond woman who definitely get the attention of the founders. The office manager and I looked at each other and said, "We don't need anymore of this." We promptly torn up the resume. Moral of the story: invest your time in your relationships and not your resume.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

at 18. I'm much more upbeat and enthusiastic now.... No really The real problem perception of an older professional, is 'It's going to be much harder to pull the wool over this person's eyes'

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You mean like unemployed sales people? :D Consultant...the only time that holds water is when you are semi retired and don't want to work full time so you sell your knowledge.

DadsPad
DadsPad

If that HR/hiring supervisor has put in the add they wanted a "5 and 30 that has at least 7 years of Linux engeineering experience and doesn't mind working 60 to 80 hours a week and be on-call 24/7/365" -- there could have been lawsuits of one kind or another. If they specify a male, gender discrimination, if specify young, age discrimination, etc. Unfortunately, HR does more to keep the company from being sued than they should. But that is the world we live in now.

neilb
neilb

That is such utter crap. Just because you've been on the end of some sexist rubbish, there's no need to go out and try and find another group on which to unload your venom. Not if that group includes me, anyway. I reckon if I worked with you I wouldn't discount you because you were "young and female". I'd discount you because you were warped, bitter - and an idiot. Neil :) (a fifty-something know-it-all) I still might try and get a glimpse down your blouse, though...

santeewelding
santeewelding

You have that: the skill and energy of youth, and woman to boot. Turn that skill to its own. Find how and why. The farts here are being gentle -- comprehendingly gentle -- until you do.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]more than 2 years old is out of date and 5 years old is irrelevant. [/i] This makes you also irrelevant.

GoodOh
GoodOh

So given your blanket assessment of what is normal I expect that you will be one of the typical 'old people' some time sooner than you are ready for and scrapped like all who think in stereotypes as you do. And it will be karma and the fates will smile at your fall onto the sword of your own prejudices. I will be, as you say "In all fairness" you just deserts for being a narrow minded and judgemental person. Because if you are that way now why would anyone expect you to change as your grow older? And if you claim you will be more open-minded due to life experience etc etc with a few more years on the clock your original posting collapses under its own idiocy.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

How does a subnet mask work ? George Boole, would have said your "logic" doesn't add up. Try to be part of the solution instead of the problem, you are a walking talking advert for the "reasoning" behind paper certs. One thing my experience has taught me is that if someone starts a sentence with "In all fairness", you can ignore the rest of it, as the initial premise is obviously flawed. And yeah I wish I had.

ghowser
ghowser

You need to re-examine your attitude. With the attitude you have, you will spend the rest of your career/life proving you aren't what you THINK other people have labeled you. As to your parting remark about "more than 2 years old is out of date and 5 years old is irrelevant." it simply shows that you are too narrowly focused. Technology trends swing back and forth like a pendulum. Older technologies come back as updated solutions to the same problems. I guess you'll learn better at some point. Most of us do. By the way, when I was in high school the worst insult anyone could ever throw at you was "you are so average." No one is "typical."

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

[i]If you aren't a typical old person who *is* set in their ways, the onus is on you to prove it.[/i] Does that go for the typical "bimbo" too?

shasca
shasca

So when does someone become "old"? Does it just sneak up on them one night in their sleep and whammy "set in their ways and synical". Would this be thirty something problem? Forty something problem? Could you please fill us in so we can all avoid the "oldness fairy" visiting us in our sleep and changing us otherwise normal thinking adults? I would so like to avoid this if it is at all possible. Hopefully it isn't too late since as the article states one in three of us is 50+.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Gee I guess cause some old dude stereotyped you, it is perfectly acceptable to stereotype everyone older than you? How is that even rational? Do two wrongs make a right in your world? I'm sorry I don't have anything to prove to you. My young staff are just fine with how I treat them, thank you very much. And be careful how you typify older people and knowledge. Those of us who have been around the block a few times have seen many trends come and go, seen things go from hot new tech to old and tired, over and over again. If you open your mind you might actually learn from some of us with 25 years of experience in computing. James

hilld
hilld

be glad your not looking for a job from a wheel chair. Many a skilled programmer etc... stand no chance at all. I have worked for a Government agency for eighteen years with 400 IT employees. Not once have I seen a person with a visible handicap hired.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Afraid not. Management don't value it, they don't even know what it is. Only time they use the word is when they are doing you up the back again, and you start muttering convincingly about not taking it anymore. Not even they are dumb enough to expect it to work. There's little point in us valuing it either, it will just get used against us, like integrity, morals, scruples , honesty, and other old fashioned concepts.....

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

In an age where whole departments are being slashed and outsourced for much cheaper labor, and the renaming of personell to human resources... our employment is more commodity than anything. Young workers, foreign workers; all easier replaced if they fail you. Boils down to the "instant dollar." The one seen by outsourcing, by hiring cheaper labor, etc. The "instant dollar" plan has hurt the USA more than anything. outsourced workers don't put money back into the business that hired them, they don't help our economy... long term: fire your own country's citizens for the work done much cheaper in China, or some other country = citizens who have no money to purchase your products or services. Xenophobic???? Nationalistic??? Maybe, but one that keeps your nation afloat. Vanity and money. You don't look young, "someone with a better fit" will be found. You or your department seem to get a little too costly... be prepared to have a reason show up as to why you are gone. cynical on my part???? Just try and find a good job these days when you fit the description as wlewis here gave.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

"They also fall victim to being over-worked and not saying no out of fear." With reason. Most employers want the work of 3-4 people out of just one. If you don't deliver at least the work of two, they don't want you, and it's goodbye. The fear is loss of job. In this economy one can't afford to lose it... unless you got recruiters throwing hookers through your window to entice you to work for their company. It's bad enough they slice out whole departments just so they can pay a dozen unseen employees the same amount of one worker they can meet face to face in the same physical room without jumping on a plane or boat.

jdclyde
jdclyde

What I am doing in my job search is to have three different resumes, each catered to the the specifics. Networking, Systems, User Support. Each focuses on the skills needed for that job, and only touches on the others. Same for cover letter.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Those 500 resumes came from recruiters. They were sent to them to get an interview, not the job. So what they really doing is targeting recruiters, and if they got to you they were a success. The other point is that six years of something else can be relevant. Development is much more than simply a choice of language. They could have developed similar applications in ADA, could have developed them for a similar section of the industry, used the same methodologies and proceses. They could simply be damn good and know that based on minimal Cobol, their experience and skills will encompass using another tool. One of the biggeest problems in hiring IT types, is the people who are making the decisions don't have the ability to make correct ones. Based on what you said you'll prefer the cobol devloper who worked on one batch file for twenty years, instead of a multi-skilled powerhouse with some knowledge of developing with Cobol. Is that what you really wanted? As for the resume advice I agree, page one should make the reader want to please turn over. If it doesn't the other pages do not matter, except to the life of a tree or two.

MichaelPO
MichaelPO

Lets face it, most people who are job searching, look at themselves and find the reasons they shouldn't be hired. When the interview fails, they have somewhere to blame it. Interviewers are human and have filters about what their ideal employee looks like. Sometimes it contains an age bias. I have been on both sides of the table recently. Age is more of a factor if we, the interviewee, think it is and act like it is. Make your skills relevant, show your accomplishments, think and communicate why you should be hired and then go start the next phase of your career. Oh yeah, I first trained on punch cards and landed a great position 6 months ago.

snideley59
snideley59

I got these gray hairs in my beard the old fashioned way...I earned them. My younger brother blames his on the fact that he raised 3 boys. A little humor in a job interview never hurts

glenstorm_98
glenstorm_98

Interesting. While there *is* an element of that, for myself, I'd prefer not to *get* a job working for someone who considers the "wool over the eyes" factor. If at that point in the nascent relationship, they're already thinking about how easily they might be able to lie to me and have me not perceive it--no thanks! I don't work well with people who think they can strategically lie to me.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Means more money, and companies run from paying more money. Some goofy kid with no idea of self value or merits is far easier to con into a lower paycheck.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

strikes me as right on target. Age brings cynicism, too.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

[i]By the way, when I was in high school the worst insult anyone could ever throw at you was "you are so average." No one is "typical."[/i] You're unique ... just like everyone else." :)

Alvarito_UY
Alvarito_UY

we're not persons or human beings anymore, but 'resources'. Be sure the one who counts is not you but the mooney you're gaining for the company, so don't be surprised about those values you mentioned are 'old fashioned'. I'm in Uruguay right now, never been to USA nor Canada, but after reading some comments on this forum, 'Bowling for Columbine' seems to me very real... the cultural differences are really HUGE, and USA is turning to a 'burned-out people factory' by going the way it's on. Mentioned 'Bowling....' just cause IT world is not apart of the rest of society, and seems to be as ill as the rest... (laughed a lot remembering 'American Psycho'.. maybe time for a remake, but this time IT managers instead of lawyers....). Cheers, Alvaro.

aandruli
aandruli

In the "Sad but True" catagory -- out of work for many motnhs and catching on that interviewers were staring at the grey hair. Tried the dye job and landed a good paying job on the first interview afterwards. Now, however, Im stuck with it.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I found I got more responses when I tweaked the resume every single time. The cover letter, IMNSHO should be written from scratch every time. I can tell a form letter a mile away. James

Observant
Observant

Tony, in actuality, you'd be surprised to see just how many resumes come into an organization by individuals responding to an ad. Yes, recruiters do contribute to the number but things are changing with how recruiters do their job (just as we should change our methods of approaching a business for employment.) Secondly, any recruiter worth their salt would screen candidates before puking a stack of CVs over the wall. Recruiters get many thousands of resumes to filter through before the "next" step of approaching an organization. Should the process become a "blast fax" scenario, eventually the recruiting firm would be removed from consideration. ... Oh, and by the way, ... that 500 number?. is way way low now. You have misinterpreted my reference to COBOL. Yes, they can be D@mn good at it and translate it to another skill. However, just doing it for 20 years doesn?t tell me they are good at it. I, as a hiring manager, need (absolutely need) to know that the person I'm considering is capable of using that "other tool". ... To be fair, yes, there are many out there that are d@mn good, but there are also those out there that have warmed a chair in front of a green-screen-COBOL terminal their whole career and couldn't tell the difference between a choo-choo and a locomotive. Don't brag to me that you're good, SHOW ME how you've proved it. If you choose to hang your hat on just your COBOL experience, the resume should reflect some significant contributions to your past organizations as a result of that experience. There is a big difference between the phrase; "I was the lead programmer on XYZ project. My vast experience lead to the reduction in redundant code by 17%... versus "Dude, like I, uh, made a totally ah-some screen saver that like, ya know, really sent my cube mate into bonkersville and I only spend six months on it!" This will eventually come out in the interview so don't waste the hiring managers' time. Were I to be in the market to hire a software developer, I will be looking at someone who can follow directions (i.e., design to specs and requirements, etc). If they can think outside the box and do it better (e.g., take Microsoft Windows code from 500 million lines of code and reduce it down to 5 thousand (gross exaggeration there but you get my drift), they will go far working for me. It doesn't matter if they can code in COBOL, PASCAL, XML, BASIC, RUP, AGILE, , or even BINARY. ... Again, warming a chair in the name of FORTRAN for 20 years (and I actually know some people who have done it thanks to the lack of fortitude within the organization) is much different than making a significant contribution to the bottom line. I may be looking for a person who can take AS400 and compact it to a Blackberry without losing functionality. Now on to your comment about decision makers. To some degree, I concur with you. However, it's not from the selection process, it's from the job description process. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the phrase "Must have 12 years experience on ABC", etc. My favorite was in 2005, I saw the requirement of 5 years experience in Windows Server 2003 (um, I know Microsoft is working on "World Domination 2.0, but space-time travel is still a bit out of their league." I can understand the beta and RC issues, but come on people. Did HR have their head in the sand too? Both the hiring manager and HR need to take a SERIOUS look, and I mean a REAL SERIOUS look at how they present a job description and the BFOQs. Just like the fact that I, as a hiring manager, do not want to see padded resumes, I seethe at the prospect of reading a job description that basically took the tasks of 5 of 6 staff, puked them out on a bullet list, and said "Yep, that?s the guy I want for this position." Back to the Resume and number of pages. Those COBOL contributions may be significant, but they should also tell the reviewer how they can translate in to the current need of the hiring manager. ... That "Above the Fold" thing. ... If I'm looking for an anti-matter expert, I don't need a "powerhouse" beer can stacker under the guise of "Expert Aluminum Recycling Engineer"

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

missus doesn't like it, besides they itch like f**k. Saddest thing in the world is an old 'fart' trying to be young. Before you know where you at, you're are using hair colour on your comb over.

pwoodctfl
pwoodctfl

I can cheerfully ignore Oz...he is living on another planet... but I have to agree with you....from another angle. If the relationship starts with deception, the deceptions will have to continue once you land the job. Unless you intend to keep dying your hair and getting botox injections after you have the job, what little difference those appearance enhancements did for you will quickly evaporate when your employer realizes who you really are. I am a mid 50's woman, and not exactly striking....If anyone stares at me, it is not because of my beauty. And if anyone hires me it is not going to be for my looks either. Of course, I do bother to bathe and put my best suit on for an interview, polish my teeth and my shoes and such for an interview, but these are the things that I do for my job as well. Your appearance at a job interview should be appropriate for the job. If you are going to pull wires and install stuff, the $800 Brooks Brothers suit will not do anything more for you than a $100 sports jacket over a freshly pressed set of slacks. In fact, wearing too costly a wardrobe for the job can cost you in that it indicates the life style that you are trying to support. If the job pays $40,000 and you show up in a suit that costs more than a week's take home, you will get the "are you sure you are looking for this job?" questions, not because of your age. Now, back to the subject at hand....age. There is often a reaction when a potential employer gets a look at me. However, it is my opinion that if the expectation and do not deliverable match between the employer and the interviewee, then it is a bad idea to pursue the job any further...does it matter why? If you want my skill set, then we can talk....but if you want a 5'6", 118 lb, 30 year old beauty- with 15 years of quality assurance experience in IT...then good luck with your search. I will move along with mine.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

My value is my experience. I've made most of the obvious mistakes and learnt from them. If it's cost effective to pay someone to make the mistakes I've already made and hopefully learn from them, fair enough. Who knows may be they won't make them, unlikely but possible.... If however you want the guy who asks is IDNumber an integer, before he writes the entire application on that assumption.... I've been pipped to the post by younger and cheaper a few times, not everyone one thinks like this though, hence an uninterupted career since 1981. If someone thinks I'm too experienced for the job, they are probably right. Seniority brings back memories of the unions in the UK in the 80s. When just turning up, meant you were better. Used to drive me nuts that, so in order not be be a total hypocrite I sell my self as a proven value added proposition. No face cream, no hair dye, no R&B on my MP3 Player, no nonsense either.

daveo2000
daveo2000

When I was laid off, my company offered us the services of an outplacement service that is supposed to help us with our job search. One of the scariest things that the consultant said was "Your resume is too long. It should be only 1 or 2 pages." I have been doing computer work for over 30 years and specifically in IT for 20+ years. Most of the resumes that I have seen coming in to me for positions I was hiring for were 3 to 5 pages. Ok, some of the Indian agency consultants were sending in resumes with 10+ pages but they went in the trash when they were that long and rambley. I hadn't heard the "2 page limit" since high school. Is this really an issue for somebody with real IT experience?

GoodOh
GoodOh

The comments about the US are pretty much applicable to Australia too. And from a little experience true for the UK too. It's normal and nothing new for most of us in the Liberal Democracies. So it's all a matter of learning to deal with it. What the HR people are worried about is someone staying put for 19 years might have become detached from the realities of the real world work place and I've got say the comments about loyalty seem to bear their concerns out. The bosses stopped offering rewards for loyalty decades ago and behaving like you think they still value it shows a bit of the 'hiding under a rock' thinking that they are frightened of. They pay you so you have a fiduciary duty to them and that's it. End of story. For either side to expect more is either fantasy or coercion.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

without H1B et al throw in, I'm going to have to call that a fortuituous accident. Ten years experience in VS2008 will cut even H1Bs out....

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

Unfortunately too, we got unscrupulous companies out there that demand odd and outragious job descriptions (with consulting firms helping them do it) so they can have an excuse for the foreign work visas and outsourcing under the guise of "we can't find qualified [insert your country here] workers."

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Until that start's getting done properly on a regular basis, no one has a prayer of getting good matches even against honest and comprehensively described candidates. Too many cooks at the moment, worse still working on too many recipes. If you want an X, with about ten years industry experience who has use tools Y and Z to do Task T, ask for that. Don't chuck in 15 unrelated certs, and a an honours degree in advanced flower arranging. The match is X,Y,Z, T and >= 8. If you aren't getting enough matches drop X, reduce 8, reword T, gor for Y or Z That way you avoid getting a CCNA, with a degree in horticulture with a child who's ten years old.

glenstorm_98
glenstorm_98

Well said, pwood. For me, deception is just a manifestation of a defective character--character that won't change simply because the first phase of the relationship (the interview) is over, and the next (the job) has begun.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Tony! No more green meanies and JD (not Clyde)....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Different is a very polite way to describe me. Most just settle for c**t. :D Seeing as this was american advice given by an american management type, I suppose we have to take being overly image oriented as a given. It's never been a question of can I sell myself as this, but do I want to? So anyone out there hoping to see me on YouTube busting moves to the Bee Gees and specially weakened blocks, shouldn't hold their breath....

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You have self worth and understand how to sell your value. This is about shallwo people in a shalloe market. The hiring managers usually know less about value than appearance. Its a dog and pony show, not one of talent.

DadsPad
DadsPad

On the 1st page should be a summation that give experience as X years doing yy. The rest of the resume tell the work location where performed. If you want a more complete work history to be given, then say at bottom that a more detailed work history is available upon request. This history can also be given separately at the interview. Remember,it is in the interview (both phone and live) where dicisions are made, not with the resume.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

unless you can target the resume to an opportunity. Cobol, Fortran, DOS, VMS, there are jobs out there. Either keeping it going, or replacing, that sort of thing can get you a job. A lot of places do not do things differently, in fact they make a point (often with no sound reasoning) at staying the same. Not a career enhancing tech move, but if it puts food on the table.... Job before this one I got from Fortran and VMS, it was either that or I could have been signing on welfare. There are less of them out there, but there are less people out there who can do them, (whether they want to or not :p )

GoodOh
GoodOh

Do you think anyone cares what skills you had or problems you solved more than a decade ago? "Hey, if you happen to have a copy of Word 1.0 running on DOS I used to be a dab hand at it in the 80s and could probably dredge something useful out of memory about it if pushed." Sound like the story you want to tell? Ancient history gets mentioned in passing but talk about things that are current and relevant. Move on, the past is a different country, they do things differently there and no-one cares what you were, only what you are and will be.

Darryl~
Darryl~

what I was trying to say earlier, you and I seem to have a very similar background as I've done all the things you've listed along with a couple others such as teaching and network admin. I have about 30 years in the IT field....my resume is always 2 pages, if someone gave me a 5 page resume I probably wouldn't even look at it.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I can tell you that I've done a fair amount of hiring, and reviewed hundreds of resumes. If you can't get that experience down to 2 pages, you need an editor. I have close to 25 years in IT, and have done everything from sales, marketing, programmming, desktop support, project management and product management. And I can do my resume in 2 pages. You don't have to tell an employer what a help desk person does. You have to tell how you made a difference - what did you do above and beyond whats expected of a help desk person. And save something to talk about during the interview. James

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Three pages, mind you not a lot of white space, margins, really small font. You might want to bulk buy some paper while it's cheap... :p

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I keep mine down to three pages max, as soon as it creeps over to four, I chop down the last employment on there. Have I missed out from not documenting something, who can say? The less recent the less detail, is the way I do my general job site resume. Targeted ones, are case by case.

Darryl~
Darryl~

I think 5 pages is excessive for a help desk/desktop support position; it's highly unlikely I would read the entire resume and only skim it. If I only skimmed a resume, I probably would miss some relevant skills/experience that I would have otherwise been aware of had I read the resume more carefully. I perfer receiving a 2 page resume with a 1 page cover letter. With the number of applicants applying for available positions in todays employment situation, I do not have the time to read 5 and 6 page resumes.

ramabrooks
ramabrooks

I have been in the IT field since Feb 2001. My resume is at 5 pages. This only includes Desktop Support, Help Desk/Call Center, Game Testing, certs and education (both formal and training classes/seminars). Technical recruiters that I deal with like it. Soem jobs entry's only have 1 or 3 bulleted items while a few job entries have anywhere between 8 to 10 bulleted items. I know the type of jobs I am seeking, and I make sure my resume fits. Plus I repost it about every other week on Dice.com

rmarkel
rmarkel

Generally, job seekers in the $24,000 range and below, do well with a one page resume. Job seekers with extensive technical skills, education, presentations, publications or association affiliations often need a two page resume. The important thing to remember when creating a two page resume is to make sure that your top selling points are highlighted on the first page of your resume. If the front page doesn?t hook employers, they may never turn to the second page of your resume. Generally, these guidelines are standard: Use a one page resume: When you have less than 10 years of experience When you?re pursuing a radical career change and your experience isn?t relevant to your new goal When you?ve held one or two positions with one employer Use two pages: When you have 10 or more years of experience related to your goal When your field requires technical or engineering skills and you need space to list and prove your technical knowledge Put the most important information at the top of the first page. Lead your resume with a career summary so your key credentials appear at the forefront of the resume. On the second page, include a page number and include your name and contact information. Use three pages or longer: When you?re a senior-level manager or executive with a long track record of leadership accomplishments When you are in an academic or scientific field with an extensive list of publications, speaking engagements, professional courses, licenses or patents Multiple-page resumes can use addendum pages after page two. A job seeker can decide whether or not to send the full document or just the first two pages to a potential employer, based on the job opportunity requirements.

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