We've discussed the ageing mining workforce in a number of previous posts. However, age is not always an advantage when it comes to trying to move on to greener pastures, even in mining. Unfortunately, age in the workforce often comes with a number of preconceived ideas. You may be considered too experienced and thus out of their price range. Alternatively, due to your age it may be felt that you won't be able learn new stuff or that you'll have trouble keeping up to date with technology.
It's called ageism and, like various other types of discrimination, is illegal in many countries. Nevertheless, it still happens – in some cases it can start when you hit your 40's and god forbid if you want to get a new job after you turn 50!
However, there are a few tips and tricks you can employ if you're on the hunt for a new job but concerned that your age may go against you. Notably, you can ensure your resume does not give the game away before you even get your foot in the door for an interview. This is after all what most employers see long before they get to meet a potential new employee in person.
Remember, over your decades of employment, you've undoubtedly gained a lot of experience. You may even have had a number of employers as well so you're pretty conversant with different types of workplaces, and can quickly adapt to working with new teams. That's all good experience to have under your belt. However, bear in mind that whilst you may feel all this experience is a distinct asset, a potential employer reading through the pages (and pages) of your resume could start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of reading material you've provided for them to wade through. And decidedly underwhelmed by what it tells them about your age!
Therefore - be careful about dating yourself.
Resumes can provide a heap of tiny clues that will give away your age. Including all the experience you have could for instance result in you being considered 'too experienced' for a position. Focus instead on your most recent relevant work experience.
Remove dates from anything that happened more than 15 years ago. When listing your qualifications for example leave out the years you obtained them. You aren't obliged to provide this information, so don't. Simply list the institutions and qualifications acquired. Ditto for any certifications you've obtained – include the expiry date if they have one, what the certification is for, but not when you got it. In the work experience section remove older jobs, especially if they aren't relevant to the one you're applying for now.
Other subtle clues that will give away your age, and contribute to the impression that you somehow fit the 'older worker so lacks tech savvy' stereotype include using 'old-school' email addresses ie AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo and other similar providers. Gmail is now the number one choice of email provider for modern professionals so join their ranks and get yourself a gmail account if you don't already have one. Be sure to add it to the top of your resume with your mobile number, the link to your (up to date) Linked In profile (which of course you have!), and your state and city of residence. Don't include your full home address because you run the risk of it being made public when you post your resume online.
It also helps to remove all references to any outdated software you may know how to use. If a particular program is no longer in use, and hasn't been in use for a number of years, the fact that you have used it will date you. By the same token though, if knowledge of that software is relevant to the position you're applying for, then definitely mention it even if it does date you.
Also use a contemporary modern format for your resume, and avoid using dated phrasing. Modern resumes tend to use action statements that highlight achievements instead of those bland bullet pointed descriptions of duties. So instead of saying "My duties included (bullet pointed) X, Y, Z" say "I was involved with a team that was responsible for accomplishing X, Y, Z", or "I created / designed / implemented X, Y, Z which resulted in these benefits for the company….".
Paying attention to all these little details will help prevent those reading your resume subconsciously stereotyping you as 'old' and therefore unlikely to be tech savvy.
Recent relevance is important.
A resume is not meant to document every single thing you've ever done in your working life. You'll have time to write your memoirs once you've retired but in the meantime, your resume is simply a tool you use to market yourself to new employers. Therefore, it needs to be relevant to the job under consideration.
Do your research on the job you're applying for and then decide which of your work experiences best align with what will be required for this position. Which ones will help you prove you are the solution to whatever problem the company is hiring someone to fix.
These work experiences though also need to be reasonably recent. Hirers want to know how your current and immediate past professional experience will help you perform in the position you're applying for. They don't want to know about the entry level job you had 30 years ago!
Highlight technical skills you've learned, and any relevant training you've undergone. List how you've kept abreast of current happenings in the industry in a way that tells the hirer how this will benefit them should they employ you. This is where the work you've put in to establish yourself as an expert ie sharing articles, participating in discussions on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, joining industry groups etc will pay dividends.
Older workers invariably have proven achievements.
This could well be the ace you need to trump your younger rivals. With more years of experience under your belt, you're more likely to have a longer list of achievements you can point to in support of your application. It's often a good idea to list these right at the top of your resume, where they will be seen immediately, and use them to sell yourself. What can you offer the company that other applicants can't? The proof is in the pudding, or in your proven achievements, which younger people may not have.
Addressing any 'gaps' in your professional life.
If you've had to leave the workforce for any length of time, it may show up as a confronting 'gap' on your resume but there are ways to minimise this too. Many professional women for example have taken time out of their careers to raise a family. When they return to the workforce there is then a 'gap' they may feel obliged to explain. One way to minimise the significance of this gap is by including any volunteer work you may have done during that time, mentioning committees you may have served on, positions you may have held in social and community groups, training you undertook, qualifications you received and so on. Normally, this type of 'non professional' experience is included after the formal work experience section towards the bottom of the resume but if it's relevant to the position you are applying for, move it into the formal section of the resume.
Also remember to tailor your resume to suit whatever position you're applying for. It's not a 'one size fits all' situation.