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Recruiters' Tips for Screening the Résumés Of Older Applicants

Learn how to read between the lines and ask the right questions

Hundreds or perhaps thousands of résumés may come across your desk each year. How can you tell the difference between those candidates whose abilities have evolved over the years and those whose skills are stuck in the 20th century? What questions can you use to glean more information about an applicant’s experiences that may not appear on their résumés?

See also: AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Professional recruiters analyzed portions of real résumés submitted by three job candidates with varying degrees of education, work experience and skill, and gave us their feedback. Here are their suggestions for interview questions that can uncover more pertinent information. For confidentiality reasons, the names of companies, candidates and locations were deleted.

Résumé 1

Work Experience

Nov. 2012 - Dec. 2012 — Retail Company, Seasonal sales

Feb. 2004 - May 2006 — Telecommunications Company, Executive Assistant

June 1994 - Feb. 1996 — Pharmacy, Photo Assistant


This applicant captured her entire 40-plus-year employment history — more than one dozen jobs — on one page. (Only a portion of her résumé is shown.) But in doing so, she sacrificed key details, leaving recruiters wondering about her skills and accomplishments. Should her résumé be placed in the reject pile? Jim Andres, general manager at Manpower Inc. of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, advises not to expect to see everything you need to know about mature workers on their résumés.

Don't penalize mature candidates for writing a poor résumé. "It's very common for us to look at résumés of semiretired or retired people and see a very weak résumé," says Andres. He explains that some list courses they completed decades ago or include their entire work history. Others skip lots. "Because there's not a lot of detail or substance, a hiring manager may jump to the conclusion that this person has no office skills." But she does. She types 70 words-per-minute and possesses basic computer skills.

Don't make assumptions. Is the multiyear gap on this résumé something to be concerned about? Andres believes not. He notes that this candidate doesn't have to work, she wants to work. He says many mature workers have financial freedom and return to work years after they retire, not for the paycheck, but to interact with others, learn new skills or experience new opportunities. "You'll find [they're] more engaged employees," he says, explaining that mature worker candidates select jobs on the merits of the opportunity. "You'll probably enjoy a good open door policy where there are no hidden agendas or they're not afraid to bring things to your attention."

Next page: Résumé 2. »

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