Handle 30+ years of work experience with care

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dear Sam: I am 57 years old and have just lost my job due to downsizing. I am concerned that my age will turn off prospective employers. As a result, I have removed the years of service on my résumé from each employer I have had; that seems to have helped a little.

When employers contact me, they always want me to walk them through my résumé, and I can almost hear them counting the years as I do. They often ask, as I am reviewing it, "How many years were you with them?" Would it be unethical to remove the last employer on the résumé which accounts for about 12 years of my 36-year career? I would, of course, answer any questions asked in regards to whether I have any experience other than what is listed on the résumé; I am just concerned that all of my experience is causing people to decide that I may be too old to invest their time in. Thanks for your help. - Jim

Dear Sam: I have been with the same company for almost 5 years and enjoy the position, but am realizing I can't stay with the company because of the seasonality of the work which has long layoff periods followed by months of frantic overtime. I would like to use this layoff time to search for and apply for new positions, but also have enough respect for my coworkers that, should something new arise, I would not want to leave them in a lurch with the busy season on the horizon. In the same token, I do not want to appear demanding or unreasonable to employers who are usually looking for someone to start soon by stating that I would not be available until fall. Is there a diplomatic way to indicate on my cover letter or résumé that I would like to inquire about a position for the near future, out of respect for my current position? - Beth

Dear Beth: Fall is really just around the corner, and while I understand you want to be, and should be, completely honest during your job search, it will not benefit you to communicate conditions of hire in your cover letter. Instead, get your foot in the door, learn of the position and timeline for hiring, and then while negotiating, present your conditions. Doing so up front will almost surely prevent you from getting in the door, leaving you conducting a job search while you are in a layoff period with what I imagine is a much reduced income. You can still follow through on any commitment you have with your current employer while taking care of yourself and your career needs.

Over the past three years, more than two million weekly readers have asked hundreds of questions and absorbed hundreds of answers, putting the latest résumé-writing advice from Dear Sam to work in their own job searches.

The Southeast Missourian welcomes Dear Sam, where you can read her column every Wednesday right here. Email your résumé, interviewing, and job search question to Dear Sam at dearsam@semissourian.com.

Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé writing firm. Reach Samantha at www.ladybug-design.com or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: