12 Most Obvious Signs You Are Old and Unemployed

12 Most Obvious Signs You Are Old and Unemployed

The job market – despite many failed projections and broken promises – is not improving. Two segments of our population that are hardest hit are those who have just graduated college (which we hear about all the time) and the silent near-majority: workforce veterans.

While young professionals have many available resources… who helps the older workers who may not be up-to-date on the social media tools, twitter chats and ridiculous amount of digital media? Who helps them down the path toward being seen as a contemporary – hirable – candidate? Perhaps more important, how can a workforce veteran prevent being perceived as “old” by recruiters and hiring managers?

Here are the 12 Most obvious tell-tale signs that you, through outdated resumes, interview techniques and digital presence (or lack thereof), are an “old” job seeker – and therefore will most likely be passed over.

1. Times New Roman or Courier

With so many creative fonts available, it is a sign that you are almost computer illiterate if you stick with the default of Times New Roman. Worse yet is the use of Courier, which implies you created your resume on a typewriter.

2. “References available upon request”

In today’s job market it’s a given that you have references lined up for the recruiter. It’s also a given that you aren’t going to provide references that would ever say anything bad about you. Leave this old-school line completely off your resume.

3. Objective Statement

For most recruiters today, the Objective Statement is dead… passé… the mark of a candidate who is behind the times. Especially in this challenging economy, skip the Objective Statement and immediately get into how you are going to help solve the company’s problems.

4. Wholly chronological resume

Today’s most effective resumes talk about foundation skills transferable to any employer: work ethic, leadership and problem solving. Your old school resume that lists every job you ever had with every single responsibility ever delegated to you is a huge red flag in today’s recruiting world.
Application and Interview

5. Email addresses from AOL, Earthlink, Yahoo or Prodigy

AOL, Yahoo and the other members of the original “Rat Pack” of email providers were born back in the stone ages of the Internet (15 years ago). You’re looking for a job – better not to take chances. Create an email address specifically for your job search using Gmail or another of the more “modern” email providers.

6. You hesitate to participate in phone or Skype interviews

To paraphrase an old commercial “this isn’t your father’s interview…” Many companies have found screening the initial round of applicants via phone or Skype to be a great way to save time and money. Don’t act surprised when asked… or you’ll be considered a dinosaur.

7. You have canned answers to common interview question (i.e., “greatest weakness”)

Recruiters don’t want you to “spin” an answer based on 20 year old wisdom that says you’re expected to spin a weakness into a positive (“I care too much” or “I work too hard” are great examples). Spare the recruiter the spin. Give a straight, short answer. Otherwise, you’ll not only come across as old-school – you just may be labeled insincere.

8. You talk without contractions or use 50 cent words when a penny word will do

Sure you’ll want to make a good impression by displaying your intelligence – but leave the giant words and perfect cadence to English professors. In the days of IM and texting, recruiters know that no one in the real world talks like that. Today, an interview is just a conversation between two normal people.
Digital Presence

9. Lack of a Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter account

Social media is how many people communicate today. Don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account? You’re labeling yourself “I’m really old.” You don’t have to be an expert – or even a dedicated user. But when a recruiter Googles you… you better show up. For job seekers, this is especially true for Linkedin.

10. Exclaiming “Facebook is for the kids”

No, you don’t have to be an expert. But to downplay the presence of Facebook (or, for that matter any major social media platform except MySpace) instantly labels you as not just old-fashioned… but unwilling to learn and change.

11. Not following the influential blogs in your industry/market

To anyone under 40, blogging is the Gen Y version of a newspaper. To not follow the major blogs in your chosen career field is a sure sign that you’ve made no effort to change. Worse yet, it may show that you do not have the latest information available to you to make good decisions at critical times.

12. Not understanding basic internet tools (Google, Skype, etc.)

At a minimum, job seekers of every age should understand internet basics: Google and Google Docs, the previously mentioned Skype and perhaps a CRM like Salesforce and online meeting software like GotoMeeting. Each is very easy to use, and all have thousands of blog posts, online video tutorials and help forums to help you master them quickly. In the eyes of most recruiters… there is no excuse for not being able to use these tools effectively.

The good news for older job seekers: all 12 of these indicators of advanced age (in job seeker years, of course) are easily remedied. In fact, in just a couple days – and with the help of those around you – you can be fluent enough to convince 90% recruiters that you are willing to adapt, learn and are coach-able.

Get started this weekend. Knock off one every hour or so. By Monday, you’ll be a digital media superstar – and wise beyond your years. Who knows… the 20-somethings might even think you are cool?

Featured image courtesy of mohammadali licensed via creative commons.

Mark Babbitt

http://youtern.com

A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, and Under30CEO.com regarding internships, emerging talent and the current job market – and was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” list.

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63 comments
PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick

@MatthewLiberty So excited for you and @AnnieBrowne!!! :D

StaceyKoning
StaceyKoning

@susannekoenders Dan zou je die van Courier ook weg moeten leggen...

AdamTownsend
AdamTownsend

I take issue with the item about the fonts. As a journalist with a background in graphic design, you want to stick with the fonts that are easy to read and not clutter up the page. On printed matter, Times New Roman and similar serif fonts have shown to be the easiest to read in multiple studies. If the resume is to be viewed on a screen, use Arial or another sans-serif font. I would argue that cluttering up a resume with a lot of fancy fonts indicates computer illiteracy, not the other way around.

pbwconsult
pbwconsult

I love this article... I feel like it give credit to some of the tips I have been preaching to unemployed friends/family etc. they ask for my help with their resume since I am in HR but dont link when I tell them not to use the yahoo/earthlink email addresses or to change the font to something more modern like Calibri... the big one is getting them to understand the first step is a phone interview... I loved #6.

Well done Mark!!

donfperkins
donfperkins

Well done Mark. Love the photo! Captures how I felt after an extended unemployed phase a few years back. Don't worry, I've shaved since then.

These are all practical tips, I would also point out that it's even worse when old people try to appear younger= IE. clothing, language, interests that just don't match. Keeping up with the times is one thing, pretending to be 17 when your 45 is quite another. There can be some great advantages to age - leverage those instead of trying to be something your not.

For me the obvious lesson in all of this is that we should keep a keen eye on current trends and think about what our audience might consider a reasonable, intelligent response to them.

Don F Perkins

http://mindmulch.net

DixieLil
DixieLil

@YouTernMark I am young at heart, and unemployed, and Lol'd at #5- "prodigy"?! As an "old school" advertising gal, turned "new" social media maverick, I hope I've improved my chances. Still "like" my times roman, though.

animal
animal

@ResumeStrategy I don't hate it. I was impressed. I was sure you were wrong but found it on my own as well and realized U beat me to it

animal
animal

@ResumeStrategy No, it's by someone like Andy Kim. I can't find it. It's almost talking rather than singing. #dontworryaboutit

ResumeStrategy
ResumeStrategy

@animal ♫you can dance, you can sing, like a puppet on a string, but you ain't in control of a single thing... she talks *crazy* talk♫

animal
animal

1. What's wrong with Times Roman? It's a mistake to have too many fonts in a resume.

2. References Upon Request. Do only older workers use that? Young people are dumb too.

3. Most objective statements are cookie cutter stupidities but I'm sure that young people use them too. I'm beginning to suspect that the age angle of this posting is just a gimmick for dumb things ignorant people do.

Sometimes, an Objective Statement makes sense. Objective: Senior Sales Management position. It's all the additional crap about finding a place that will let me grow professionally as I contribute to the company that has to be cut out.

4. Your claim is totally wrong. 99% of recruiters favour plain chronological resumes.

All the talk about work ethic and soft skills and problem solving is mere bragging until the interviewer can ask for examples -- which the soft skill braggart is rarely ready to provide.

5. It doesn't where your email address comes from as long as it doesn't carry a ridiculous name like jellybelly@etc. It might be a bit better to have a common one like gmail because that's what most people are used to and has no indicator of how old you are.

6. Are people used to doing skype interviews? I've never had a call for one. The president of a high tech company just asked to interview my candidate by phone. No skype.

7. Canned answers to stupid questions is not an age-related issue and anyone who says so is... --- come on please don't pretend young people know everything. If anything they will do more poorly on the very stupid greatest weakness than some guy who has more experience to draw on.

8.That's just plain stupid. Intelligent people can speak in whole sentences and don't have to use "go" for "said" as in "So I go" instead of "So, I said."

9.I agree that everyone should have a Linkedin account and Twitter account and Facebook etc. But Twitter and Facebook are not really important. Busy workers don't use Twitter unless they work in social media.

Lack of these accounts won't brand you as an idiot. They aren't even that helpful in job hunting.

10. Most middle aged people will not say Facebook is for kids. These days they're on it too and there have been reports (inflated) of teens abandoning FB because of their parents 'presence.

11. It's a good idea to follow blogs but I'll bet that most professions and trades have discussion groups and trade and professional association publications that are more important.

12. Was this written in 1990? Who doesn't understand basic computing and internet skills? People who are retired.

Dude, maybe this was all tongue in cheek and I took you seriously because I'm old and square. If so, I'm glad because that means you don't take it seriously.

JTDabbagian
JTDabbagian

I gotta disagree on the Times New Roman/Courier thing. Unless you're using PDFs for your resume's, it's not guaranteed that a prospective employer will have the same "creative font" that you are employing. When they don't, it either defaults to TNR, or worse, becomes some other random font.

For the record, I'm 26 years old.

phyllismufson
phyllismufson

Here's another one - just stating 20 years experience in your field (or 25, 30...) without illustrating (through statements of accomplishments) how you can solve the employers current problems.

angelambrown
angelambrown

@DBMC @dariasteigman Just retweeted it. Title is the worst part IMHO, but I think a lot of this is applicable in general, not just for jobs

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

@DBMC Agreed. These are less age issues to me than biz issues. But right or wrong, these perceptions exist. So ppl need to know it.

DBMC
DBMC

@dariasteigman Like I said--I think this is harsh. Also, having a Yahoo address is not indicative of being old.

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

@DBMC I've NEVER but "references available" on a resume. It's redundant. RE Font: I care less, but I want white space, modern look.

DBMC
DBMC

@dariasteigman Really, you think that if a resume says refs avail he/she doesn't know what he/she is doing? Or if it is Times Roman?

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

@blairgoldberg It's not the platform, it's the perception. If you have yahoo or hotmail, I can't put you in front of my clients.

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

@blairgoldberg It's not logical that Gmail is biz-ok & Yahoo isn't, but I don't take seriously ppl who use Yahoo for biz.

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

@DBMC I filter out ppl I think are/ are not biz savvy based on these. Cos. probably doing likewisel job seekers need to beware (& be aware).

pollyeloquent
pollyeloquent

@tedcoine I am old and unemployed. I don't want to be depressed, too! Sheesh, T! Snicker.

ldlow
ldlow

@c_pappas believe it or not, I just received an inquiry for an emerging media INTERNSHIP listing a hotmail address! Nooooooooo!

C_Pappas
C_Pappas

Great list Mark! I am not old (what is old anyways - LOL) but I am unemployed and I do have a Yahoo account that I need to delete right away!

The problem with resume's is that yes, the older generation are still using these objective statements and lumping job experience in chronological order by data BUT they are showing their kids to do it this way too! And high school's are still teaching this as the best practice. We may know better but the upcoming job force is still being educated on the 'old school' method.

westfallonline
westfallonline

Mark, in my coaching work I find myself engaged with these two populations. Adding to the degree of difficulty can be location, as well - although there does not seem to be a safe harbor in the current storm. The only antidote for older workers is to follow your advice. The key challenge for the jobseeker (at any age) is creating relevance. Gotta understand the game, if you want to play. Right or wrong, the new economy has de-valued the experience of the past. This list is a blueprint for moving forward - really outstanding. Thanks!

YouTernMark
YouTernMark

@AdamTownsend Thank you for the comment, Adam. We agree that anything that adds "clutter" -- or using more than one font -- does not serve the job seeker well. Our advice is to pick one easy-to-read, fairly conservative and contemporary font, perhaps Calibri, that represents you well.

YouTernMark
YouTernMark

@C_Pappas Thank you for your comment. I couldn't agree more... and have often blogged about "who are you listening to?" when it comes to job search advice. Social and digital media have played a major role in the transition that is occurring -- and it is up to all job seekers to keep learning, and remain viable.

YouTernMark
YouTernMark

@westfallonline Chris, as always... you are spot on. Relevance is ageless, regardless of the birth date shown on your driver's license.

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