Career Advice

4 Ways To Make Your Online Profile Young & Hip (Even When You’re Not)

Sometimes the best way to look more youthful when you’re on the job hunt is to slim down.

We’re not suggesting a crash diet or joining a gym, though if either of those boosts your confidence and energy levels, we think they may be worth considering.

Instead, we mean review and reduce your resume’s details and online profiles, starting with any job assignment that dates to the 1980s or early 1990s.

“You may want to collapse your previous experience dating back 20-some years,” said Beverly Morgan, a partner at Winter Wyman who specializes in executive searches for human resources managers. She suggests job candidates collapse them into a one line summary that indicates the earlier experience without giving dates or specific citations.

Sometimes it makes sense to leave off the year you graduated from the university or earned an advanced degree, too.

“If it can open the door, so you can engage in a face-to-face or phone interview,” your resume is working, Morgan added.

She wants job seekers to consider how their LinkedIn profiles and resumes look to an outsider, perhaps a 20-something recruiter who was a newborn when the candidate took their first management job. If this is too hard to picture, ask a younger friend to review them, and point out areas that seem dated or out of touch with current trends.

Here are four more ideas for giving your professional profile a facelift, without seeing a plastic surgeon:

1. Update the title, employer.

If you served as head of personnel years ago, you may want to bring your title up to today’s choices. Calling yourself head of human capital instead will seem more relevant and current. Likewise, Morgan suggests if you worked for Lotus Development in the 1990s, you may want to note the company as IBM, and then mention that it was Lotus parenthetically.

2. Picture yourself youthful.

“A photo is critical,” Morgan said, especially on LinkedIn. In hers, Morgan looks tanned, rested and happy. She suggests candidates make sure they are well groomed, professional and have “an engaging look on your face.”  Consider the companies you’re targeting and make sure your photo’s composition and mood seem to match their cultures.  Morgan said she had never heard of people using airbrushing software to remove a few wrinkles, but I have – and I think it may make sense, as long as it’s done in moderation. I also know job candidates who color their hair to hide the gray and carry an iPad or backpack to keep themselves from seeming “too old” for their industry or an employer.

3. Make it meaningful today.

Terminology changes with time in most industries. So “keep the verbiage current,” said Morgan, and make sure the buzzwords and social media seem relevant to both the job and sector you’re seeking.  That means talking about your brand instead of your reputation and touting your global or M&A experience, she said. The same goes for technology – keep it current. WordPress and Quora may impress, but Word Perfect won’t. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got the latest lingo, look at  the job posting – or check out a few 27-year-old rising stars’ online profiles.

4. Keep it concise.

Even if someone says ‘walk me through your background,’ they do not need to hear everything going back to 1990. “Push that forward to what is most relevant,” said Morgan. “This isn’t a story of your life.”  Some candidates take way too long to answer a question in a phone screening interview or in person. “They don’t stay on point. It becomes way too much of a story,” she said. Instead, they need to hone in and speak or write succinctly on the situation, your contributions, and results.

That approach is known as STAR – for situation, task, action and results. And it works for older job seekers, who want to shine brightly and be relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s workplaces.