Writing Your Resume: How to Avoid Age Discrimination If You’re Over 45

Portrait of smiling mature businesswomanGetting a job at any age is difficult. But, if you’re forty-five or more, it becomes ten times harder because many young recruiters automatically dismiss older applicants as being ‘over the hill’.

There are some simple ways you can avoid age discrimination and sneak under the radar of young recruiters. When writing your resume, be very aware of anything that might show your age. Following are eight tips to help you get to the interview:

  1. Never write your age or date of birth in your résumé. Many people mistakenly believe a résumé is a legal document – it’s not. It’s a ‘sales document’ that ‘sells’ your skills and experience to a prospective employer.
  2. Use the name by which you are known on your résumé. For example, if you are known as “Kate Green’, write ‘Kate Green’, not ‘Katherine Mary Green’ or ‘Katherine M. Green’ on your résumé . Once again, this is not a formal document like a Birth Certificate where you need to write your full name.
  3. Only list jobs and training you’ve had over the last ten years. Don’t fall for the trap of bragging about your ‘twenty-five years’ experience in sales’. It makes you seem ‘old’ to a young recruiter and may affect your chances of being interviewed.
  4. Keep your résumé succinct and punchy by using short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Don’t tell the story of your life – no one wants to hear about it. Older people are known to ‘waffle’, so make sure you stick to the point and write concisely.
  5. Include an employment summary of the last ten years, so that the reader can see your history at a glance. Start at your most recent position and work backwards. This helps the reader get to know you quickly.
  6. Use a simple layout in 11 point Arial font (for digital applications) and use bullet points to make it easy for the employer to get information quickly and easily. Avoid using a mixture of fonts and never, never use all caps. It looks as if you are shouting.
  7. ‘Sell’ yourself by stating what you’ve achieved in former positions. This includes: increases in sales, market-share or company profits, cost savings, increases in efficiency, developing new systems and processes, etc. The employer uses your past performance as an indication of your future performance.
  8. Choose professional referees (managers, colleagues, suppliers, customers, etc.) who can personally vouch for your work performance and include their mobile numbers and email addresses. Ask their permission to be listed as a referee and keep them in the loop about your application.

Take heart! There are many enlightened organisations that prefer to hire mature aged workers because of their strong work ethic and experience. Remember, you have a great deal to offer the organisation.

Make yourself competitive with younger job applicants by having a positive attitude, keeping your computer skills up-to-date and paying attention to your personal grooming. Good luck!


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Guest Post by Mae Chapman: Unemployed? How to Keep Your Sanity Intact

Thank you Mae for your generosity in allowing me to publish this post for my guests.

Unemployment is upsetting for many reasons beyond immediate financial concerns:

Your routine is disrupted. You have become used to waking up every morning at a certain time. You ate lunch at a certain time. You went home at a certain time. You spent around 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, getting ready for work, commuting to work, working, commuting home again, and then unwinding from your day. Now, you have a lot of unstructured time on your hands.

Your social interactions are likely strained. Your friends and former colleagues know you are out of a job. They are well-meaning when they ask (every time they see you), “How’s the job hunt going?” or something similar. Until you do find something, you probably cringe inside every time you answer.

You feel left out. Whether you were fired or otherwise “let go”, you are no longer a member of the “I have a job” club. You are used to having conversations involving your profession and now have very few people to talk to. The LinkedIn groups you belong to are your only connection to the industry you used to work in.

Your role in Society has changed. Your significant other is working so of course, you are doing the housework, chauffeuring the kids to school and extra-curricular activities, and going to the grocery store. If you are a woman, society will accept this without another thought (although you may not be wild about it). If you are a man, not so much. Unemployed men are (probably) sick to death of being referred to as “Mr. Mom” or a “House-Husband”. You are told, “Staying home is great! You are so lucky to be out of the rat-race!” or other similar statements. Inside, you scream.

You have already done this but finding a new position is taking longer than you had hoped. You are hanging in there, but it is getting tough to maintain a happy attitude. You jump every time your mobile rings, hoping it is a Recruiter on the other end of the line. You check your email every 5 minutes. You even check your “Junk” and “Spam” folders just in case an offer was sent there by mistake. “Hope” just isn’t cutting it.

If any or all of the above applies to you, do this:

Structure your time. Get up at the same time you always did when you were working. Spend the morning searching out opportunities, networking, and maintaining your skills. Maybe learn a new one. Have lunch. During the afternoon, catch up on the housework (a messy abode is just plain depressing), and nurture your soul or work on that golf swing. In other words, have some FUN.

I know, some of you are shaking your heads in doubt. After all, you should be “working” 8 hours a day looking for a job, right? Wrong. Because it can take 6 – 8 months to secure a new position, spending every day, all day looking for work will grow old. You will lose your enthusiasm and maybe blow the interview you do get. Another thing: when you get the next job, you won’t be eligible for any vacation time for 6 months to a year.

Make some new friends. You probably don’t know the name of the people living right next door to you, if you are like most folks today. You probably don’t know the name of the person that drops the mail in your box every day, either. Have you ever met the people who spent 8 hours a day with your kids? No, no, and well – no. So go find out. Smile, introduce yourself and shake hands with them.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon the friends you already have; right now you don’t need to be reminded of your situation every time you see them. When they ask, reply, “I am taking my time to find a job I will really enjoy!” smile, and then change the subject.

Volunteer. If you are an accountant offer to help out at your CPA society. They will probably take you up on your offer. You’re an out of work attorney? You can do some pro bono work. Good for your spirit and it will keep you in the game. You’re in IT, an Engineer, or an Architect? Local high schools and community colleges would love for someone like you to help them out. Offer your assistance.

Decide for yourself what your “role “ is. If you live your life according to what “society” dictates, you will be unhappy – working or not. Okay, you used to work as the CEO of ABC, Inc. and were replaced. So what? You used to work as the Vice President of Something and now you are a “domestic goddess”. Again, so what?

You, Dear Reader, are not what you do for a living. (Read that sentence again – humor me.) If you are over the age of 14, you have probably noticed Humanity is rife with people who make stupid and insensitive remarks. You might have also noticed that “society” likes to tell people how they should live their lives. You live your life according to what works for you.

Man or Woman, when you are the one responsible for running a home and taking care of kids all day long, you are doing a (mostly) thankless job. However, it is one worthy of respect. Consider this for a moment: who was taking care of the house so Thomas Edison could be creative all day? While Henry Ford was building his empire working 80 hours a week, who was running the household, taking care of the kids, laundry and so on?

You are not a “house-husband” or a “house-wife”. You are not a loser just because you are in-between jobs. You don’t have to feel bad about yourself because you no longer spend almost half of your life away from the things you enjoy and those that you love.

If you have done the above, you might just realize you don’t want to work for someone else any longer. Maybe you have decided to make your dreams come true rather than someone else’s. So you put a plan together, get some help from some other unemployed people you know, and together, go into business.

Do this and it’s just a matter of time before you will become a business success. According to your definition of “success”. Your dreams, your career, and your life are all what you make of them.

Now, is that time. What are you waiting for?

Do connect with Mae here on LinkedIn and on Twitter @NCMae.


Mae is currently pursuing graduate degrees in accounting (MSA) and business (MBA). She also provides consultation services to small firms and is writing a (somewhat) fictional tale of financial fraud, the murder used to cover it up, and the family torn apart by greed.

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Selection Criteria -14 proofreading tips to ensure you nail your application

readcarefully So, you’ve finished your application and you’re keen to hit the ‘Send’ button on your computer or lick the stamp. Don’t do it! Here are 14 essential things to do before you send your application:

1. Take a coffee break before you start
Let your application ‘sit’ for a few hours (or better yet a few days). Allow sometime after you finish writing to help you see your application with ‘fresh eyes’ when you proofread it – you’ll be amazed at the silly errors you’ve made.

2. Print a hard copy of your application for proofreading
It’s easier to identify errors on a printed page than on a computer screen, so always print out a completed hard copy to proofread.

3. Avoid fluorescent lighting when proofreading
The flicker rate of fluoro lights is slower than standard lighting, making it more difficult to pick up errors. Use strong natural light where possible. (If possible, move out of the room where you wrote your application — you’re probably sick of being there anyway — so that you’ll get a fresh perspective.)

4. Edit for content and structure
When editing content, ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how? Then, answer the next five questions honestly:
• Have you checked the structure of your application?
• Do the facts flow in a logical sequence?
• Have you used relevant examples that demonstrate your skills and abilities?
• Does your application answer all questions the employer may have about you?
• How would you respond to this application if you were the employer?

5. Run the spell checker and the grammar checker.
This is merely a first check. There are many mistakes that won’t be picked up by the spellchecker or grammar checker.

6. Look for words that sound the same but have different meanings.
Watch out for words that sound the same, but have totally different meanings such as ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’.

7. Double-check titles, names, addresses, phone numbers and VRN for accuracy.
Employers and recruiters get a bit upset if their names are misspelled. Wouldn’t you? Make sure you check that you have used the correct vacancy reference number and that you have the correct phone numbers (triple check mobile numbers), email addresses and postal addresses.

8. Check for padding and eliminate redundant words and phrases. read carefully
Aim to remove 10 to 20 per cent of what you’ve written.

9. Make your language active and dynamic.
In your résumé, you can omit the ‘I’ and start with a ‘power verb’ such as developed, directed, sourced, configured, and so on to give your application a ‘verbal turbo-boost’.

10. Double-check little words: ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘of’, ‘it’, and ‘is’ for typos.
It’s very easy to repeat these little words without meaning to, so read backwards to see if you have doubled up.

11. Check for your weak points.
Most people make a few mistakes on a regular basis. It might be the word ‘manager’ written as ‘manger’ or it might be ‘applicaition’ instead of ‘application’. Another very common error is ‘form’ instead of ‘from’. The spelling checker won’t necessarily see these words as incorrect so make a checklist of your common errors so that you won’t miss them when you are proofreading your application.

12. Proofread for one type of error at a time.
It’s easy to get distracted while proofreading, especially after writing an application that is more exhausting than running a marathon. Read through your application for each of your common errors separately. For example, start with checking spelling and grammar, then check through for incorrect use of homonyms, apostrophes, verb tenses, and so on.

13. Go over your application one last time.
Choose the techniques that work best for you.                                                 dogproofreading
• Read your application silently – ‘Look’ for mistakes.
• Read your application out loud – ‘Listen’ for mistakes.
• Point with your finger to read one word at a time.
• Use a screen (a blank sheet of paper to cover the material not yet proofed).
• Read it backwards to focus on the spelling or repetition of words, such as ‘and and’.

14. Ask a friend with good written skills to proofread your application.
This is one of the best methods of proofreading. When you check your own work, you tend to see what you intended to write, rather than what you actually wrote. A fresh pair of eyes will see what is actually there.

Good luck with your application.
Like to learn more? Check out ‘Get That Government Job: Secrets of winning positions with selection criteria’ or go to www.smartstartmarketing.com.au for free resources.

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How to choose your referees – your personal ‘sales team’

magnifying glassYou may have written a brilliant application and been outstanding at the interview, but it’s all for nothing if you choose the wrong referees. Referees can make or break you – they are your ‘personal sales team’ selling the brand of ‘YOU and your skills’. One wrong word (or simply a referee’s implied dissatisfaction with a ‘No comment’) and you’ve lost your chance. So, choose your referees with great care.

1. Choose referees who really know your work.
A referee needs to be able to comment on your work performance, achievements and personal attributes as they relate to the selection criteria, so a good choice would be your manager, supervisor, work colleague, supplier, client or anyone who knows your work.

2. Don’t choose the CEO or MD just because they have an impressive title.
You may be tempted to choose the CEO or MD of an organisation where you’ve been employed, but only do so if they know you well and can comment on your work performance.

3. Don’t choose a referee just because of their position or experience.
Don’t nominate someone just because they are highly experienced in the role for which you are applying. You might be thinking: I’m going for a Travel Consultant position and Jane Jones is the General Manager of Tippy Toe Travel, so she’ll be a good referee, won’t she?’ No! She won’t! Your referee’s qualifications or seniority hs no relevance if that person can’t comment on your work performance. It’s far better to choose people who know you well and who can provide first-hand information about your work.

4. Think carefully about what kind of questions your referee may be asked.

choosing-peopleThe person conducting reference checks usually records referees’ responses on a Referee Check Sheet, which can be completed over the phone, in person or in writing. Although referees’ comments are not weighted or scored for public sector positions, they are used to validate any claims you make in your selection criteria statement. Give your referees a copy of your application to prevent any contradictions about what you did, when you did it and what you achieved.

Remember to thank your referees for the fantastic ‘sales’ job they do when a prospective employer calls for a chat. You won’t get the job without their help so let them know how much you appreciate their support.

Got a question about referees? Leave a comment and we’ll discuss it.



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Good news for long term unemployed with Federal Government Jobs Initiative

good newsFinally, there’s a government helping hand for people who have lost their jobs to help them get back into the workforce. It will also be a huge help for people with a disability to access employment opportunities.

This wage subsidy is available for private sector and social enterprise organisations employing a job seeker who:

  • has been on income support for at least two years
  • is currently participating in Job Services Australia or Disability Employment Services programs
  • has had no or minimal recent paid employment

Here’s how the scheme works. The $95M. ‘Wage Connect Program’, funded by the Federal Government, subsidises employers to hire and retain people who have been out of the workforce for a lengthy period of time.

Research shows that people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more have a 54% chance of being unemployed for a further 12 months. Yikes! That’s enough to destroy anyone’s self confidence.

So, if you’ve been out of the workforce raising a family, caring for a relative, or just plain having a terrible time getting a job after being retrenched, this is for you. Embrace this opportunity and benefit from it. You deserve it!

At any age, it’s difficult to get back into the workforce after a long break due to outdated skills and experience. But, if you’re over 45, it’s even more difficult due to age discrimination. Yes, the ugly beast is still there. But, here’s your chance to get a great job, so don’t be a slowcoach! Check it out today. You can also go to your nearest Centrelink Office to see if you qualify.

Here’s the link for further info   http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/Centrelink/wage-connect

Let me know how you go…I’ll be waiting to hear good news!

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Great way to try a new job – lots of fun without the risk

So, you’ve had a little talk with yourself and decided it’s time to change careers. But, what about the risk? What if you go to all the trouble of writing job applications, attending interviews, resigning form your job… only to find the new job isn’t what you thought it would be?

Now, there’s a more effective way to trial a new job. It’s a bit like work experience where you spend a day or more in a business to see first hand exactly what it’s like. You can try out working with a publicist, a florist, a landscaper…or dozens of other types of businesses. What a brilliant idea!

To find out more, go to www.experiencemyday.com and check out the experiences on offer. Who knows – the business you choose to do your work experience in may be your new employer.

Have any of you already had this experience? Please write a comment and tell all the wannabes how it worked for you.


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Top 10 FAQs About Writing a Professional Resume

Top-10Did you get the big Heave Ho just before Christmas? Did you see it coming?

The end of the year is often the time when organisations make drastic changes to their workforce. The lucky few may be elated by receiving a healthy bonus, but there are thousands of workers who received their Marching Orders.

If you are one of these people, you probably had no idea you’d be fired….especially just before Christmas.  You went into work as normal, counting down the days until the Christmas break… and left minus your job and your feeling of self-worth.

If this sounds like you (or someone you know), this article will help you take the first step to bounce back.

Here are some tips to get you on the right track. It’s always a good idea to have your resume updated and ready to send quickly when an opportunity presents itself. So, let’s get to work.

1. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV?

The terms ‘Résumé’ and ‘Curriculum Vitae’ are both in common use these days. When you respond to an advertisement, use the term in the ad to name your document. For example, If you are asked to send    your CV and cover letter, call your document a CV. Similarly, if you are asked to email your résumé, call your document a résumé.

2.   How long should my résumé be? 

Your résumé needs to be long enough to succinctly ‘sell’ your skills and experience – and not one word longer. The length of your résumé will depend on your employment history. Obviously, if you’ve only had one job, it will be a lot shorter than someone with a 20 year work history. Here’s a tip – only include the last 10 years’ work history in your résumé. You can list earlier jobs as headings. For example: ‘Key roles held prior to 2001: Bank Teller; Administration Officer; Customer Service Officer’.

3.   Should I include a photo of myself in my résumé?

Some hospitality positions and flight attendant positions require you to send a photo with your application. Generally speaking, the only time you need to send your photo is if your appearance is directly related to the role. For all other positions, do NOT send a photo.

4.   Should I include my hobbies and sports in my Personal Details section?

Only include your hobbies or sports if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a Sports Coach and you play sport at a high level, then it is relevant to include in your résumé. Keep your résumé professional by only providing your contact details, (name, email address, home phone and cell phone number) in your Personal Details section.

5.   Should I include how many children I have and their names?

No. Your résumé is not the place to mention your family. It might be perceived as a negative to an employer. For example, they may be thinking ‘Will Mary need time off during school holidays or when the kids are sick?’

6. Are résumé templates okay to use?

One size definitely does not fit all. Your résumé needs to be tailored to your individual background. You also need to put your most important information upfront. For example, if you are a graduate, your educational qualifications will be more important than your work history. Conversely, if you are a mature-age applicant, your career summary and employment history are much more important than your education, so should be listed immediately after your contact details and career objective.

7. How many referees do I need?

Choose at least three verbal referees (people who can be contacted by  phone) even if you are only asked to supply two. This is because your referees may be on holidays or out of the workplace when the recruiter calls to do the reference check. Make sure you include your referees’ mobile numbers and email addresses to make it easy to contact them.

8. Who should I ask to be a referee?

This is one of the most important parts of your résumé. Choose three people who can comment on your work performance. Your referees can ‘make’ or ‘break’ your chances of getting the job, so choose them carefully. A good choice would be your manager, supervisor, work colleagues, suppliers, customers, etc.

9. Should I explain gaps in my employment?

Yes! You need to answer any questions that may be in the employer’s or recruiter’s mind when reading your application. If you have been unemployed for a period of time, but have held a voluntary role, state: ‘2007 – 2008: Voluntary position as Treasurer ‘XYZ Charity’. If you’ve  been at home caring for children, state: ‘2006 – 2008: Full Time Parenting Duties.’

10.  How do I make my résumé look professional?  Here are a few ‘insider’ tips used by professional résumé writers:

  • Use a reverse chronological format (start with the most recent position and work backwards)
  • Choose headings to match your individual educational and employment background.
  • Use an 11 or 12 point font such as Times New Roman for hard copy applications and ‘Arial’ or ‘Verdana’ for online applications.
  • Use bullet points and white space between paragraphs to make your application easy to read.
  • Put your name, page number and the position you’re applying for in the header or footer on each page of your application.
  • Don’t squeeze lots of information onto the page to save having extra pages – it makes your application hard to read.
  • Proofread your application carefully and get someone else to read it  to make sure it is error-proof.

Good Luck with writing your resume. It’s the first step to getting a fantastic new job.  For further free articles and resources, go to www.smartstartmarketing.com.au

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