Your Sales Kit: the Resume (Part 1 – The Basics)

When you are job seeking, you are selling a very valuable product, one you know better than anyone else out there: yourself. And, your sales kit consists of your resume/CV and any supporting documentation you may have in hand. This could be a portfolio or other examples of work you have produced, examples of code for a software programmer, letters of recommendation, commendations from employers or clients.

A lot of the professionals that are out in the market today have been set adrift after years of faithful service to their employer. They haven’t constructed a resume in, well, a long time. Just like every other industry, recruiting changes. Technology has made our job a lot easier in some ways but the sheer number of tools we use has increased exponentially. Our main criteria for evaluating a candidate, however, is still the resume (or CV depending on your industry or country.)

In North America, the resume is the standard document used by job hunters. And there are as many opinions as to what makes a good resume as there are people reading and writing them. There are a few basics all resumes have in common.

1) Contact information. In today’s electronically connected world with email and cell phone addresses that follow you where ever you may live, this is both easier and more difficult. Of course you should use your name; if you have a relatively common name, like Pam Smith, consider using your full name with a middle initial. This will be more professional and perhaps make it easier to find you in a large database of names.

Pamela S. Smith (Pam)

The more ways you give a recruiter to contact you, the more chance you have of *being* contacted. Home phone, cell phone, email addresses. Whether you choose to use a street address is completely up to you, but it is good practice to indicate your city and state of residence, especially if your primary phone number is an out of state area code. Make sure your email address is *professional*, not something used by a teenager. If you are currently employed, think carefully about using your work email address. Will you still have access to it if downsizing is occuring? Does your company monitor your incoming mail? Remember, any data that sits on company assets (ie servers, your computer, voicemail) is considered *company property.*

If you have any certification abbreviations, they can be put with your name, if it is industry standard. IE:

Pamela S. Smith, CPA

Basically think of what your business cards look like.

2) Employment History. This information should be in *reverse chronologic order*, no matter what format your choose. That means your most recent position is first, then the last one is second, etc. If you have been with the same employer for a significant amount of time, break up your jobs by year.

Acme Widgets 1995-Present

2007-Present Senior Accountant

2004-2007 Junior Accountant

2002-2004 Bookkeeper

1997-2002 Accounting Clerk

1995-1997 – Customer Service Representative, Business Accounts

3) Education. Your education, *all* types, should be at the end of your resume with a few exceptions.

If you are just out of college/high school (one year or less) it will go at the top under your contact information.

Your industry is standard to list a doctorate degree first (ie scientist, academic, attorney.)

If you have taken professional courses, you should list them in the education section under your last schooling.

*Be sure that any training you are listing is current and relevant for the position you are seeking. If you had PowerPoint training in 2000, but you don’t use it or it’s such an integrated part of your job every day, don’t waste space in the education section. Similarly, if you took training that you don’t use anymore, *keep it off your resume*.

4) ‘References Available Upon Request.’ This statement is a waste of space. If I am interested in hiring you for a job you *want*, I am pretty certain you will give me references if I ask for them.

Remember, *every single thing* on your resume should focus on your current skill set and the sort of opportunity you are seeking. You should be able to answer any question related to any piece of information that is on your resume,

It’s All In The Details

I moderate an international Human Resources discussion board over on Yahoo. We have over 3700 HR professionals around the world. Today someone posted a request for salary range resources for a QA Engineer.

Now, I have a very special talent for finding such creatures. About 6 years ago, Microsoft made the decision to do away with all their automated testers, and only employ (both contract and FTE) "Software Design Engineers in Test". There is a huge and pronounced difference between the two. SDET’s (or QA Engineers) as they are referred to around here, need to be able to code in Object Oriented languages such as C++, C# and Java. This is because there are two main kinds of testing, and the type that is most prevalent in the Seattle market is manual testing,

meaning that each time software is run through a test cycle, the QA professional needs to be able to actually *write* the software that does the testing, as opposed to automated testing which uses out of the box products with the ability

to tweak pieces of code here and there.

The reason I make this distinction is because of the salary differences between the two types of professionals. It’s really going to make a difference when you get down to asking people about finding resources for the compensation surveys.

Hiring managers often get frustrated when a recruiter asks them for more details for the job description. But let’s think of it this way. Let’s say that the company in question uses the generic job description that was sent to our list:

"Develops, publishes, and implements test plans. Writes and maintains test automation. Develops quality assurance standards. Defines and tracks quality

assurance metrics such as defect densities and open defect counts. Requires a bachelor’s degree and 2-4 years of experience coding in C, C++, Java. Must have

a working knowledge of quality assurance methodologies. Familiar with NT, UNIX and/or Solaris environments. Relies on experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Performs a variety of tasks. Works under general supervision; typically reports to a manager. A certain degree of creativity and latitude is required. Typically reports to a supervisor or manager."

To me this job description means they are looking for someone who can actually *code* in the languages specified. In terms of money, this is going to add at least $5-$10K to your compensation structure. I actually got a reply offlist from the person who asked the information in the first place, and she told me their "range", which was a single amount for the base salary. Again, this is not a "range". I asked if this was their midpoint, high or low? (It turned out to be a "bang your head against the wall situation; either she didn’t know the answer or didn’t particularly care). Turns out they are looking for an automated tester, which is the cheaper option of the two. In which case their base "range" should be fine.

In recruiting we almost always have a range, a set of numbers that we can be flexible with in discussing compensation. If you don’t know the full story, you cannot expect to get an accurate answer to a question you throw out to the internet. R />

Which goes to my point about communicating and sharing information with *detail*. There are some people that can spin their wheels trying to impart information to another person; I’ve met plenty of people that just don’t know how to *listen*. They hear you just fine, but they don’t know how to pull apart the answer well enough to ask the right questions. Or, conversely, they lack the experience to analyze that information enough to *know* there is a lack. These are the folks that just don’t "get it". We’ve all met them.

It’s all in the details and the subtleties that things really happen. You can get the "big picture" but if you don’t understand the details you cannot do the job *right*.

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

One of the key underlying technologies for ‘Web 2.0’ (which is just a marketing buzz word; it’s the same web it’s always been) is ‘search’ capabilities. This is the backbone of Google, Windows Live!, Yahoo, etc. To put it simply, it is a combination of character recognition (words and phrases) and indexing on a massive scale.

Understanding how search tools work is one of the keys to any online endeavors such as blogging, selling any sort of product/service, and’job hunting.

Think of the yellow pages and how they are indexed. By topic, then by entry alphabetically. To find what you are looking for, you have to *know* what it is classified under. The one that always annoyed me was that cab companies are listed under ‘taxi’. If I didn’t know to look under ‘taxi’ I’d never get to the airport!

Now think of using Google. You are looking for something very specific, like a dry cleaner that is environmentally friendly in your area. You start your search a number of ways, like:

Dry cleaner Chicago green

You may get 254 hits across the metro area, and you live in Glen Ellyn. So you change your search to
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Dry cleaner Glen Ellyn green

You *could* also do something like

Green dry cleaner 60137

The more creative you get with your searching, the more refined ‘or broad- your results will be. Most people think in pretty basic terms and get tons of results, then have to look through all them to find what they are looking for.
The way Google and other search engines identify the results of any search is based on the content on the page. The engine searches for keywords, indexes them, and returns them as results. The keywords are called ‘metadata tags’. (Often if you see a list of terms at the bottom of an article or blog posting, those are tags the author has identified for metadata search tools.)
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So from a recruiting perspective, how do we ‘find’ the right candidate? By keyword searching. Usually when we receive a job description, recruiters create a list of keywords that they will use to search for candidates. All major job boards and Applicant Tracking Systems use keyword searching. Here is the *most important* piece of information for the job seeker: these databases return results based on a stack-ranked system. That system ranks *by the number of times the word appears in the profile.* So the old ‘stick to one page’ resume advice isn’t always your best bet.

Like every other profession, some recruiters are good at this aspect of their job, others aren’t. A seasoned recruiter knows how to vary their search based on related terms that may or may not be in the job description. But many don’t have the luxury of experimenting with variety, or don’t know the value of it. So it is very important to make sure your resume, if you are applying for a specific job, is tailored to the job’s keywords. If you are using a general resume on a job board such as Monster or CareerBuilder, keep in mind the keyword stack ranking when you are composing your resume.

The Dark Side of Being Connected and Visible

I am in shock about a situation that I found out about yesterday. Tuesday I was over visiting some friends. He had just been laid off from MSFT, and we were talking about his online profiles. He has a lot of business interests beyond technology, and has many of them listed on his LinkedIn profile and some of them are very confusing to potential recruiters/employers. My suggestion was to create a separate profile for his non-tech/employment interests.

So, he did so. Updated his MSFT profile to reflect his last day of employment (which was Monday), and then shut down his non-tech business info.

The result? Almost immediately he got a call from American Express (Amex) asking him what his income was?

I was stunned when I spoke to his wife about this and suggested that he contact Amex directly make sure it wasn’t a scam.

They did so, and not only was it a legit call, *Amex confirmed they have people monitoring LinkedIn and other networking sites for employment verification purposes.*

The implications are staggering, especially from an HR perspective, and legally. Employment verification is a key component in the hiring process.

In addition to the obvious question about the ethicality of using something like LinkedIn for the aforementioned purpose, I also question the use of resources in this respect.

I applaud them for keeping their employees "busy", but I wonder what sort of message this sends from a corporate culture standpoint? What sort of training and mentality is this breeding in their employees?

Much to ponder in this Big Brother scenario; makes me glad I don’t use Amex.

What Outsourcing Your Corporate Blog Says To Me

Over on Twitter, I’ve been discoursing with someone regarding legal firms that are outsourcing their corporate blogging.

OK, to me this is sort of oxymoronic in certain ways. First, almost *any* company has internal employees, be it in sales/marketing, or even someone in HR that has aspirations to become a writer. Why pay an external company extra money without taking advantage of your already existent talent?

Second, outsourcing a blog says that you don’t trust your own internal teams to disseminate information properly. Especially at a legal firm, this says a lot to me as an outsider about their business practices. It smacks of dishonesty to me; the external vendor is representing *your* firm yet the reader doesn’t know it.

Finally, and to me the most important, if you outsource your corporate blogging, you are structuring a message that doesn’t connect with your corporate culture. And, to be honest, one of the reasons companies encourage/allow blogging is because they are trying to connect with clients, potential clients, show that the firm is "in touch" with current trends and tools. Hiring someone else to do it invalidates all of these, in my book.

Creative Talent Rich, Business Savvy Poor

I know some amazingly smart, talented, creative individuals both personally and professionally. I believe we all have some sort of creative talent, and it isn’t necessarily in the form of the ‘traditional’ artistic sense. Software Engineers are an incredibly creative bunch of folks; taking concepts and creating usable products by understanding programming languages isn’t what some folks would define as ‘creative’, but I do.

But I am noticing a rather interesting trend among my truly artistic connections. The inability or refusal to grow from a business perspective; and, in some cases, being unable to let go of creative endeavors in some respect, which can be the death of an ‘artist’, if art is how they are trying to make a living. For example, a young 20-something media/video editor I know is unemployed, and got her BA a little over a year ago. The current market being what it is, she needs to be as marketable as possible. I helped her with her resume and tried to get her in contact with some professional contacts I have (oh, like a Recruiting Manager at LucasArts I know.) Nothing. So I asked my technical community for a site review of her professional portfolio online. Lots of very constructive and useful feedback. But she decided not to update her site. At all. Nothing I can do for someone that won’t help themselves.

Another friend of mine is a digital artist. I’ve seen a lot of referrals to folks doing her kind of work, and the term ‘digital painter’ has come to light. But she would never ‘re-title’ her occupation. She also has some really *adamant* ideas of what she will and won’t do to promote herself. And unfortunately, she is missing out on cutting edge marketing tools and trends because she doesn’t think it’s worth her time and energy to use them.

A very talented musician with several CD’s to his name of original music doesn’t have a MySpace page or any videos on YouTube.

I’m constantly looking at new tools and venues for promoting my work; not just my resume and recruiting professions, but also my writing. (I’m an author if you didn’t catch that’current novel manuscript is in the urban fantasy genre.) And, I must tell you, my thought processes are *constantly* turning. And it’s interesting to me that ‘creative’ personalities that derive inspiration from the world around them seem too set in their ways when it comes to certain things. Comfort is all well and good, but learning to use new tools and methodology, and taking feedback from peers and critics is part of the *business* part of making money from your art. And when consumer spending is at the low end of the spectrum, using every promotional advantage at your disposal is vital, just like any other profession.

The Exponential Effects of Fiscal Mismanagement

Earlier this week I met with a contact from a company I used to contract with. I was never particularly impressed with the Executive Staff, but recently found out that they "fudged" their books and were caught in an audit. If you read the message boards over at Yahoo, my favorite thus far is the one with the title "Is BSQR like the Enron of Small Companies – Poor Management?"

Then let’s look at AIG. OK, to use a very strong colloquialism…"WTF?" BONUSES to the miserable executives who mismanaged their assets? Is anyone else disgusted at this? Someone questioned whether we, as the general public, have any stake in this. My response was, "well, the federal government currently owns an 80% stake in the company. I elected the officials that are administering this on the behalf of John Q. Public; so yeah, we have a significant stake." I believe the executives who have accepted the bonuses should be somehow dealt with legally if at all possible, and replaced poste haste. You cannot tell me there aren’t *honest and qualified* execs available to run this company competently.

I’m glad GM is restructuring. I’m firmly convinced that this is one of the best things to come out of all the "bailout" muck. I have been on the fence about this issue for several months, and have concluded that we should let the free market capitalist model *do it’s job*.

Closer to home, Microsoft recently instituted a mandatory 10% reduction in billing fees from it’s staffing agencies (see, HR after all :). Some of the agencies passed the cuts along to the contractors in whole or part; some ate the reduction on existing contracts. The contractors themselves keenly feel the injustice of all this, and some have started protesting. I’ve had "offline" conversations with people about the situation and most people attribute it to a few things.

1) Many of Microsoft’s enterprise customers were in the banking/finance industry, which means a significant reduction in their revenue stream.

2) When Bill Gates stepped down, the company naturally shifted gears from a corporate culture perspective. Steve Ballmer has very different ideas about how to run the company.

3) Yes, corporate greed has played a part in this.

4) OFCCP and other compliance issues have been a factor in the decisions.

My personal opinion? MS has shot itself in the foot as an employer of choice, between the contractor gaffe and the layoffs with the whole "payback" debacle. Are some of the measures they have taken sensible? Sure. But MS’s fiscal year starts in *July*. I think they truly jumped the gun on many of these cost-cutting measures which could have been more appropriately handled with the change of fiscal year.

I have many friends in Staffing worried that they will be losing their jobs come July. And I don’t blame them one bit.

When major corporations and small local businesses start skirting both the law and common sense, practicing corporate greed, it makes me angry, mostly for the employees effected by the stupidity of it all.

Playing On The Same Team

I think everyone has made friends in the workplace; it’s almost inevitable in a culture that spends more than 40 hours per week with the people *at* work. When you take into consideration the fact that we are hired not just for our skills but also to a great degree for a ‘cultural’ fit. Just because you can do the job doesn’t mean you can necessarily get along with your co-workers and clients. So, based on these factors, it’s no wonder that people form friendships based on their work environment, and also why employee referrals are considered the #1 best form of new candidate generation for any organization and why many companies offer hefty referral bonuses. (I personally made over $3K at Amazon in employee referrals when I worked there; obviously a non-recruiting role as recruiters get paid for doing their jobs =)

But what about going the opposite way, and deciding to work *with* or *for* your social contacts and friends? This sort of arrangement has ruined many a good relationship, and it takes a very deep understanding on the side of both parties of their respective personalities, goals, communication styles and expectations to make such a relationship work.

For me, this has been amply demonstrated recently in several relationships I have. I joined Conquent because I know my style, personality and goals match the team and I trust that the business relationship will be enhanced by the trust and understanding we hold for each other.

Conversely, recently a friend of mine that owns a small business asked for my help. She sent me an email a few weeks ago, asking if I had any technical Project Manager resumes to fill a contract she had with a major global consulting client. I sent her two that I had just been referred to, but they didn’t have the skill set the client needed. So, she called me and rattled off a few key skills that were necessary and a two sentence blurb on the role and the team. So I crafted a short job description and sent it to my network, got several responses and sent them on to her. She shortlisted them based on their skills, and spoke to one of them in depth, but didn’t screen the other top candidate.

She set up interviews with the client team. Unfortunately, the candidate she didn’t screen didn’t do well. The other candidate was a better fit technically, but wasn’t quite right from a team fit perspective. My friend called me up very upset, telling me that I hadn’t done what I had said I would. She had assumed that I was giving her pre-qualified, fully screened professionals. I misconstrued her request for a short favor. It has put a strain on her relationship, but hopefully both of us have learned our lesson about communication and expectations.

Recruiting is an intense, multi-faceted discipline. Many people think that recruiters just get a job description, slap it on a few job boards and wait for the resumes to roll in. Pick the top 3-5, interview them and make an offer, DONE. There is much more to the job than that, and although the lifecycle of recruiting is fairly standardized, the individual methods and styles vary greatly. Add to that specialized knowledge for various industries such as healthcare, IT, academics, government, legal, non-profit and any other highly evolved niche, and it becomes apparent that it isn’t ‘just’ about finding a few candidates.

Insights and Responses to my Ageism Issue


I disseminated my recent views on ageism in recruiting/HR far and wide, and the response was, to say the least, overwhelming and quite interesting. So, I have posted the various comments (anonymously) here for persual. I sent the posts with requests for input to HR/Recruiting groups in WA, OR, and CA as well as a women in technology listserv I am on. All in all, about 5,000 people saw this posting. This is by no means a *scientific* or even measurable study; it is simply a compilation by members of communities I am involved in.

Responses are in no particular order unless they are part of multiple-response thread.


Original Post (by me):

I’ve seen a very disturbing trend the last few weeks in my network. People over 40 being "laid off" and the RIF being attributed to "financial reasons", and recruiters focusing on the younger workforce pool.

Has anyone else seen this?



BR />I’ve noticed this trend for over 10 years.


"Seems" to be the trend. I’d be very curious to see the other responses you receive on this.


Simple economics…some companies choose to lay off more experienced (and hence more costly) employees to make room for less experienced, cheaper labor…other companies, like British Petroleum for example, have been selectively rolling out 10% pay cuts for some of their divisions.
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Yes, my husband was laid off last year. A decrease in sales performance was the reason given, but it is known that he was one of the higher paid managers (with 30 years of industry experience). Within the same month, several other "seasoned" managers were also laid off. He had to take a 20% pay cut with his next job because it is an employer’s market. Employers can drive the compensation down setting a new industry standard. This is the time to stay put if possible. If not, expect to take a pay cut!


Yes it is hard to find a c ompany that will hire those of us who are of an "advanced age’. And age discrimination is the most difficult to prove. However, even though it may be hard to prove it is not impossible. And I feel that we basically have two choices, accept defeat and just keep applying anywhere and everywhere or we can file a complaint with the EEOC. You don’t have to try and prove it alone. In addition to EEOC if the company holds a federal contract you might be able to file a complaint with OFCCP.

If you think you have been wronged then you owe it to not just yourself but to all of those who are in a similar circumstance. The economy sucks big time. More and more people are losing their jobs. But if a business or company gets enough complaints against them sooner or later someone is going to take notice and start looking at them under a microscope for the way they are going about hiring and firing people.

I know it isn’t much, but it is better than saying "Oh Well".

Just thoughts


Yes, my company and myself are a prime example of this. Out of a group of 12 employees 6 of us are over 50, 3 over 40 and 3 in their late 30’s most of us long term employees and therefore at a higher salary rate.


I would agree that not many companies seem to be hiring over 40. I have been recieving many resumes in the past few months and many seem to be people in that age range. One thing that could turn off hiring managers is looking at apps of the over 40 group and seeing large wages and thinking that these individuals may not take job offers or may not be very motivated to work hard if their compensation is much lower than what it had been in the past. I know I have felt that way looking through resumes when the job we have is advertised at $13.00 per hour and their past wage was $25/ hr.


I wonder if it’s just a short term trend you observed. There was an interesting article in the Feb 9th print edition of Business Week regarding called "In this recession, older workers are keeping their jobs" focusing on how workers over 55 are the ones who tend to be kept on during all the downsizing we are seeing. You might be able to find the article on their web-site.


I have always thought that it would be interesting to do a survey of over 40’s and over 50’s who either can not find employment or who have just given up looking because they have looked for so long. It also might be interesting to find out how many have found a job and for what salaries. And what is the difference between the age ranges. It sure would help the more senior professionals get a handle on their chances. I sure wish I would have know ahead of time what an up hill battle I was going to face.


I was recently laid off and I have the data sheet used by the company showing ages of those ‘released’ and those retained. There is a clear case of a skew in favor of the younger group and my attorney is pursuing this to gain a more favorable severance package.


Kristin, yes, not only this. I have also seen the HR recruiting folks getting younger and younger and sadly, they havent a clue what value a more mature worker will bring to the table. We are just "older workers with higher salaries, potential medical liabilites and ideas "stuck in the past" (all not true- well, maybe the higher salary part, but, it’s because of all we bring) sad times!


Here in the silicon valley ageism is keenly applied to those over fifty. It could begin earlier as well. I filed two complaints with the EEOC and got nowhere. Nobody seems to care!

So well intentioned as I am, I would consider following the trail of your "hollywood"

bank robber. But I lacked the nerve!
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Monday mornings I attend a (Seattle area) Worksource networking event. The meeting has grown from about 15 – 20 people to easily double that if not more and not one of the people attending is under 30 (well maybe a couple).


First of all, I am 64 yrs old and have more then 37 yers of experience in HR, IR and Recruiting. I agree that all too often people over 40 use "discrimination" as a crutch to help themselves justify their inability to find employment.

I would love to hire "seasoned workers" but all to often I find those over 40 are stuck in thinking the processes? learned 25 yrs ago are still the best . They often make it plain that they still like the "old" way better. They have resisted change and in doing so are no longer able to communiate effectively with younger individuals.

My advice to all over 40 is to "get with the program" The world of HR is rapidly changiing every day – new legislation-new behaviorial theories, new ways to find candidates etc.

If you have fallen behind the times It is your responsibility to get caught up, Learn , learn. learn. Do not fear change. Listen to some RAP music, talk to today’s youth( they really are amazing)., get a new hair style, buy a pair of red shoes 🙂

Accept new ideas and processes, embrace change and you may find that you will outlast younger employees in tight times or if you have lost your job you will be considered as a great candidate as you have kept current , you don’t think old, and you have a great attitude.


If you think OVER 40 is bad…wait til you get OVER 50 (or more). As a Career Consultant during the post 911 layoff crises I worked with alot of laid off workers and it is pretty clear discrimination is rampant. I have also heard comments by some HR folks that are troubling in this regard. One internal recruiter told me she would never send any "gray haired’ guy to certain managers because she knew they wouldn’t be hired. From a strategic point of view I can understand her position—she is busy and why waste her time as well as that of the manager or the candidate. But from an ethical and legal position it is indeed disturbing. Of course, I don’t mean to imply all recruiters operate in this way, but I think it happens more than we care to believe.

I think the field of HR has an opportunity and responsibility to be a real leader in regard to age discrimination–as well as other forms of discrimination (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.). There is an opportunity to educate managers about the value of "experienced" workers as well as, of course, the potential liabilities associated with discrimination. I know many HR folks who are quite vigilant, outspoken and real champions for this cause…..but there are others who take the easy way out, by avoiding confrontation and pretending not to see.

Of course, age discrimination also occurs on the other end with the 20 somethings being turned down for jobs they are competent to serve, especially if they are "young looking".

Discrimination will end when we truly hire, fire, develop and promote for purely performance-based reasons. I think we are still a ways away from that reality.


I am more concerned about layoffs than hiring, to be honest. And for anyone, it is imperative that they understand that they will most likely need to take a pay cut.


Yes it is hard to find a c ompany that will hire those of us who are of an "advanced age’. And age discrimination is the most difficult to prove. However, even though it may be hard to prove it is not impossible. And I feel that we basically have two choices, accept defeat and just keep applying anywhere and everywhere or we can file a complaint with the EEOC. You don’t have to try and prove it alone. In addition to EEOC if the company holds a federal contract you might be able to file a complaint with OFCCP.

If you think you have been wronged then you owe it to not just yourself but to all of those who are in a similar circumstance. The economy sucks big time. More and more people are losing their jobs. But if a business or company gets enough complaints against them sooner or later someone is going to take notice and start looking at them under a microscope for the way they are going about hiring and firing people.

I know it isn’t much, but it is better than saying "Oh Well".


Due to the economic woes, it is an employer’s market. For those of us that are looking for work, you might be over 40 however if during the interview you are skill sets are not strong then yes someone younger will earn the right to be offered the job. I was a member of a interview panel on Thursday Three people were interviewed. The first interviewer was over 40 did a good job in presenting her skills. She was used to earning a higher salary however understood that she may have to take a pay cut.

The second interviewer was over 40 seemed inflexible, did not do a good in presenting herself. She was willing to work for less. The third interviewer was under 40 did a good job presenting her skills and was flexible. When asked about salary she was willing to accept whatever the company offered. The first and third person will have second interviews next week.

I understand that some individuals over 40 should earn more money and in a fair world, you will be properly compensated but while companies are struggling financially companies have had to make tough decisions which have included, laying people off, pay cuts, early retirements, cutting hours, only filling essential positions and hiring people earning less money. Only

you know your situation, it is not about age but if you demand to make a certain amount of money and are not willing to understand that the company may not be able to pay you what you believe you are worth, there are hundreds of other individual, ready, willing and able to work for less.

I help individuals over the age of 18 find employment and old or young when you want to make so much money you will find yourself still unemployed. Companies, the government and individuals have had to make adjustments to their income, we must do so as well in order to survive.

Times have changed and we must change as well. Also you may have years of experience however if you interviewing skills are not sharp you will not stand out amongst the crowd. When interviewing, it is a package deal.


I recently conducted two workshops on job search strategies, resume development and networking at <a client’s> and 95% of the attendees were over 40.


I sometimes wonder if it is the 40+ age group of candidats who go to these types of resume buiding workshops because they understand the value and it has been quite a while since they have looked at their resumes or have interviewed.

Let’s face it, if I was fresh out of college and laid off, my resume is still very current and I’ve been interviewing most recently. The younger population also has typically less financial burdens and my live off of unemployment just a

bit longer than someone who’s supporting a 25 yr. mortgage with college kids and admissions fees. More food for thought…


A little note of caution. One thing I have seen repeatedly during a downturn is employees over 40 crying about age discrimination. These same folks when under 40 were the first out and last back in the previous downturn. I just see too many people use it first as an excuse and then as a crutch and ultimately rationalizing that they can’t get a job solely

because they are over 40 and act accordingly.

If you are over 40 and command more money to do a job that someone under 40 can do just as well and for less, what do you think might happen??? If your years of experience are not worth the extra money, they aren’t worth the extra money, and that’s just economics.

As far as complaining, the HR community in certain areas is a VERY, very close community. You start screaming age discrimination, even if it’s true, and the other possible employers will back away from you very quickly.

But, gang, there are companies out there who will hire you. They are not that hard to identify. The HR rep is over 25. She does not look at those over 40 as elderly and tired. Smaller companies that don’t or can’t afford to spend tons on training look at you as a bargain or even a steal. Take what you have and shop it in an area where others don’t. And for those companies that do discriminate against you and do it openly, remember it. Remember who in the company. Learn a tiny bit about them. Watch them in the future. But write it down, don’t waste time thinking about it. You never can tell when the fates will give you a little tiny opportunity to return the favor to the company or even better the person. And most of the time it will.

The Disturbing Trend of Ageism in the Work Place

I’m seeing a very disturbing trend in HR today. One of my friends, who is a brilliant Computer Scientists with a wealth of global business experience, was recently laid off from a local area software company. It turns out that most of the layoffs were the over 40 crowd. The company cited "financial reasons" defined by rising healthcare costs, and the philosophy that anyone over a specific age has only a limited worklife left so they would rather invest their money in younger workers.

I’ve also seen a lot of commentary in my social networks pointing to ageism as a factor in hiring. Why pay someone what they are *worth* with 20+ years of experience when you can hire someone half their age for peanuts?

In the US, we don’t value wisdom and experience as much as other countries. Our culture is obsessed with youth. I think this is one of the most unnatural, misplaced, idiotic cultural values out there. I blame it on the entertainment industry for the most part.

Although age discrimination is illegal, when there is a glut of unemployed professionals in the workforce, it is oh so easy to look at the candidates with more experience and the younger *cheaper* candidate and then to rationalize that the older candidate is "too expensive".

I come from a family that values education. My mom went back to school in her 50’s to get her Master’s in Social Work. She has a long health care history, and that makes her a valuable employee in a healthy field, even now in her sixties.

One of the things we at Conquent value is *experience*. It is not dependent on how young/old you are. It’s a matter of whether or not you have the skills and cultural fit for what we need. Sometimes a green fresh college graduate, with a different perspective and new ideas will fit the bill better than someone that has been in the field for a decade or more. And then there is the fact that sometimes our clients need a seasoned professional that understands the greater business world and can quickly "hit the ground running" without a long learning curve.

Companies need to evaluate factors beyond "cost". Look to the experience and balance a *broad* corporate population brings to the table. And quit thinking of ways to "bend" the law to save a few bucks.