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Resume and Interview Tips for Older & Returning Adult Students
What to include:
- Your most recent & relevant jobs—within the last 15 years.
- Accomplishments throughout previous experiences.
What to leave out:
- Dates of education.
- Early job history.
- Dates of experience beyond 15 years ago. Say “five years” instead of “1980-85.”
- Personal information, such as age, height, race, religion, or health status.
- Hobbies or personal interests unless they are truly relevant to the job.
- Some experts suggest softening the job titles you list on your resume so you won’t seem overqualified. For example, “senior manager” instead of “vice president.”
- Be sure to list all courses and professional-development activities that illustrate your willingness to learn and keep your skills updated.
- List all the computer and other technological skills you possess that are relevant to the type of job you’re applying for.
- Emphasize results, accomplishments, and achievements. List accomplishments that set you apart from other job candidates.
How to Determine Accomplishments:
What Is an Accomplishment?
- The specific actions you have taken in a particular situation
- The skills and abilities you used to meet a challenge
- The results or outcomes you achieved The following example is a job responsibility, not an accomplishment
- "Wrote grant proposals to numerous funding sources to support program." To turn this into an accomplishment, show the results and benefits: "Wrote three successful grant applications to private foundations, resulting in funding to serve an additional 100 clients.”
Tips for Including your Accomplishments:
- Write down Your accomplishments before you start writing your resume, draw up a list of accomplishments. You won't use the same ones in every resume, so have some in reserve for different types of positions.
- Don't forget that your volunteer work and education can also be counted as accomplishments—as long as they are related to the job you want.
To jog your memory about what kind of accomplishments you’ve had, ask yourself these questions. Have I:
- Accomplished more with the same or fewer resources? (How? Results?)
- Received awards, special recognition, etc. (What? Why?)
- Increased efficiency? (How? Results?)
- Accomplished something for the first time? (What? Results?)
- Prepared original papers, reports, and articles? (What? Why important?)
- Managed a work group, a department? (Who? How many? Results?)
- Managed a budget? (How much? Result?)
- Identified problems others didn’t see? (What? Results?)
- Developed a new system or procedure? (What? Result?)
- Been promoted or upgraded? (When? Why important?)
- Realize that you will probably be interviewed by someone younger than you, and don’t be unnerved by that situation.
- Despite your age, you have to show that you’re still very current in today’s workplace, such as with your computer skills; talk about how flexible, adaptable, creative you can be, that you’re a team player and able to work with multiple-age generations.
- Stress your willingness to learn. One of the biggest obstacles to the hiring of older workers is the concern that their skills are outdated and they aren’t willing to learn new skills.
- If you’ve taken courses and attended workshops, seminars, conferences, and other professional development events throughout your career, be sure the prospective employer knows that.
- Especially ensure the employer knows your technology aptitude is up to date, particularly as it relates to the job you’re interviewing for.
- Telling the prospective employer that you sought out and paid for learning opportunities on your own can be especially impressive.
- Convince the employer that you are more than willing to get up to speed on any skills that may be lagging.
- Subtly suggest that your work ethic is unsurpassed (in possible contrast to that of younger workers). Be sure prospective employers know that your references will vouch for your reliability and stable work record.
- Convince employers that your maturity is an advantage because your experience makes you wise in the ways of problem-solving.
- Stress interpersonal skills, especially your delight in working with people of all ages. If you’re interviewing for a job with client or customer interaction, the AARP suggests you might want to mention your ability to identify with an aging customer base.
- Be prepared for interview questions that are inappropriate, borderline illegal, or downright unlawful. Surprisingly, it’s not illegal for an interviewer to ask how old you are, although it’s certainly inappropriate. If you are asked any question that suggests the employer wants to know how old you are or is concerned about your age, the AARP recommends responding with a question such as: “How do you see my age affecting my ability to do the job?” Don’t be defiant or confrontational as you ask the question; remain upbeat and positive.
- If faced with the possibility of age discrimination:
- Report the company and call the firm’s president.
- Ask yourself if you would really want to work for such an unprofessional company.
- In response to an age question say, “Can you tell me how this question applies to my ability to perform the job?”
- Say: “I am sensing that there may be concerns about my age. Unless there is something I haven’t been told, I can only assure you that there are no aspects of this position that I cannot handle, and I would be committed to bring you a wealth of education, training, and experience that few could equal.”