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Here are the 12 Most obvious tell-tale signs that you, through outdated resumes, interview techniques and digital presence (or lack thereof), are an “old” job seeker – and therefore will most likely be passed over.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