Friday, June 01, 2007

Resume for Vibrant 50-Year-Old

I just turned 50 and have been looking for a new position. My tenure with the 4 companies I have worked for are 2, 4, 11, and 10 years (last to first). I only listed the last 3 positions on my resume (due to space limitations). This doesn't make me look as long in the tooth (15+ years experience vs. 25+) but it doesn't look as stable with my last 2 positions lasting a shorter duration. Should I make room to add my first position to my resume?

Also, it has been about 6 months since I resigned from my last position. I have a computer services company I have run part-time for 10 years and have been working at it more since I have been out of work. Should this be added to my resume (as my current position) or should I just explain what I have been doing when asked?
--- Growing Old in Texas

by Vivian VanLier, CPRW, JCTC, CEIP, CCMC, CPRC, Certified Career Coach / Resume Writer

Hi “Growing Old in Texas”... First of all, let’s change that to “Staying Young and Vibrant in Texas!!” Haven’t you heard: 50 is the new 30!! On my 50th birthday, I went out and bought myself a t-shirt that said “50 Happens!” and wore it proudly!

With an average of 35 years added to our life spans since the turn of the last century, you have plenty of time to start a whole new career if you want!

Now some statistics to put your concerns into perspective: According to recent studies (and the Bureau of Labor Statistics), by age 40, most people have had 10 jobs! Transition is the new “normal.” So job changes aren’t at all unusual. Again, according to statistics, the average job lasts 2 ½ to 3 years. So, if you average your last two jobs, you’re right on track!

The old career / work paradigm was one job, one industry for life. Well, that began changing back in the 80’s with the first wave of downsizings. This trend has only accelerated and today’s savvy careerist understands that ultimately you work for you! You package your talents, skills and experience into a cutting-edge marketing tool (your resume) and when you land a position, you stay as long as it’s a good fit for you. Today’s employer retains team members as long as it’s a good fit for him/her. When it’s no longer fitting your life and goals, it’s time to re-package your talents and move on to the next opportunity. Of course, you don’t want to do this too frequently, but, again 2 ½ – 3 years is average.

The other concern is regarding appearing “young” on your resume. Resumes are actually great equalizers. You should only go back 10-15 years (17 is fine) on your resume regardless of how long your work history is. Prospective employers are interested in what you have done lately. Thus the resume will not disclose age. (Senior Executives can go back a longer time because they have obviously earned their stature over time.) Don’t include dates on your education if it wasn’t recent. So, “Young and Vibrant in Texas,” you were right on track with the dates.

You can use a title such as “Computer Consultant” for the independent work to show that you have current experience. In fact, if you are transitioning into the computer field, you could show consulting services going back 10 years (concurrent with full-time employment). By the way, don’t bother with months on your resume; state years of employment only. (The only time I include months on the resumes I write, is for students or recent grads when they have held internships and seasonal or part-time positions.)

I hope this helps... And keep staying young!!! It’s all in your state of mind!

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