4. Hedge against age discrimination.
It’s a sad but true fact of the hiring process: your age can work against you. Legally, employers cannot ask you how old you are, but they can glean the information from your résumé. That’s why some coaches say that if you are worried about age discrimination, you should be careful about what dates you include.
Some executives exclude the year they graduated; others avoid broadcasting their 25 years of experience. But leaving out early positions entirely can be a little tricky, particularly if they relate to the job at hand. If you have a CPA, for instance, the person reading your résumé will want to know that you worked at a public accounting firm early on and will expect to see that (and may still be able to infer your vintage by the name of the firm, considering the consolidation to the Big Four in the past decade).
One solution: list early positions under a category called “Prior Positions Held” and leave out detailed descriptions and dates. The format will make the transition more natural. Then your résumé can “get you in the door” so “you might have a chance to sell yourself beyond that,” says Ford.
5. Stay true to your brand.
Everything on your résumé should fit with your personal brand, which you also communicate through your online profiles, verbal interactions, cover letter, and interviews, Kraft says. One of her clients is “very much the quiet, confident type of leader,” she says, and she advised him that trying to be vocal and self-promotional would be damaging to his brand. He chose to stick with his style.
To stay consistent, look for jobs that fit your qualifications, instead of fudging your skills to fit a position. “When many people write résumés, they make modifications and changes and try to be all things to all people. That is a very flawed strategy,” says Kraft. “It is really much smarter and more effective to figure out who needs what you have, and play in that space.”