As a recent survey of nearly 4,000 tech professionals conducted by the DHI Service Dice recently revealed, ageism is a significant concern among Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. As a smaller, less formal survey by Rigzone revealed late last year, the perception of widespread ageism also exists within the oil and gas community.
A widely cited statistic is that recruiters typically spend just six seconds looking at a resume. Even in that short amount of time, they can make judgments about your age. As the author of your resume, however, you decide which information goes on the document. Consequently, there are steps that a seasoned professional can take to shift a recruiter’s attention away from age.
“Recruiters are looking to get a picture of you,” said Nate Masterson, human resources manager with Maple Holistics. “Consider the kind of worker you are, and the kind of work you are looking for, and adjust your resume accordingly.”
Below are five things you can do to age-proof your resume.
1. Draw attention to your (relevant) education.
If your college degree, certification or other educational credential is relevant to the open position, be sure to put it toward the top of the resume, according to Jeff Zinser, principal and founder of Philadelphia-based Right Recruiting.
“The first thing the recipient sees when they open a Word document is the top half of the first page,” Zinser explained. “That is very valuable real estate. If you’re in a discipline in which academics is important, listing your credentials at the top makes it immediately visible.”
By the same token, Zinser pointed out that it is not necessary to list the year in which you graduated – particularly if you have concerns about age bias.
2. Be selective with experience and personal details.
Would listing that bartending job you had in the spring of 1994 help you land your next oil and gas position? Probably not. What about listing that offshore roustabout job you had the preceding summer? It can’t hurt.
“If you have over 20 years of experience, there is no requirement to list anything before 20 years UNLESS the earlier experience has direct relevance to your field or is with an employer that can add value to your background,” said Zinser.
“If it was unconventional, was it shale, heavy oil, etc.?” explained Abhijeet Narvekar, CEO of The FerVID Group. “Maybe even put percentages on how much experience you have in shale. Similarly, if you have done fracture stimulation in addition to reservoir stimulation, state the same with percentages. This example is being provided as we have seen a few jobs around this subject.”
Narvekar added that putting a percentage on a skill set acquired and indicating when you used that skill set – and updating the figures often – will help your resume to stand out.
“Eliminate jobs that ended more than 10 years ago,” recommended Frank Grossman, Philadelphia-based professional resume writer and job search consultant with Resumes that Shine. “Often, the skill set required for the job has changed markedly in the last 10 years or the employer cannot verify employment for such jobs so they have limited resume value anyway.”
In addition, Masterson advised “focusing on impact and relevance over minor detail” when listing your skills and achievements. Furthermore, he highlighted what constitutes fair game in terms of personal information.
“Education and willingness to relocate already let a recruiter know what they need in terms of personal information,” Masterson said. “Marital status and age are considered filler. Similarly, listing ‘basic computer skills’ is now considered a given and having it on your resume can make you look outdated and a potential burden rather than an asset.”
3. Align your resume with the job description.
If you want to be considered for an opening, you should take time to review the job description and confirm whether your background aligns with what the employer wants in a candidate, said Narvekar.
“Hopefully the company has put a good amount of effort in it,” Narvekar said. “Compare your skill set with the job description. If you have performed what they are asking for, make sure you use the same terminology.”
In addition, Narvekar warned that assuming a recruiter can read between the proverbial lines can be costly to the candidate.
“If the terminology is different but it’s essentially the same thing, make it easy on the recruiters and do not assume or take a stand stating they should know this already,” said Narvekar. “The easier you make their job, the higher the chances of your resume making it to the manager’s desk.”
4. Make your resume a work in progress
Reviewing your resume on a monthly basis will help you to ensure the document stays current, even if you have no plans to look for another job, Stuart Ridge, chief marketing officer with VitaMedica, told Rigzone.
“Think back to what you have accomplished over the past month, and add any major projects, new responsibilities or other resume-worthy accomplishments to your list,” explained Ridge. “Do this in conjunction with your monthly goal-setting or as a part of your personal professional development review to ensure you stay up-to-date with it.”
Working from a “master resume” will simplify the process of reviewing your resume and aligning it for specific job openings, continued Ridge.
“Making monthly updates to a resume will result in a long list of accomplishments,” Ridge said. “When the time comes to submit a resume somewhere, start with this master list and systematically eliminate anything that isn’t relevant to the job you are applying for.”
According to Ridge, the master resume strategy ensures that you include major accomplishments in your resume. It “results in personalized and carefully curated resumes for each position,” he said. “This is a huge factor in standing out from the crowd for more competitive positions.”
5. Don’t raise suspicions with your email domain.
If the email address on your resume includes the domain of a longstanding email service such as America Online (AOL), Yahoo! or Hotmail, that could suggest to a recruiter that you are a Gen Xer or a Baby Boomer. If you’re still using one of these older services, it’s probably a good idea to switch to something more recent for email correspondence in your job search, noted Grossman.
“Remove email addresses popular with older workers, such as AOL,” said Grossman. “I suggest the candidate subscribe to Gmail.”
In addition, Grossman advised caution regarding listing your physical home address on your resume – particularly if you live in an area that one could associate with an older age demographic.
“Remove the job candidate’s street address, especially if the employer will find it is in a 55-plus community when they Google it,” Grossman said.