As an executive recruiter, I’ve noticed a trend lately: candidates are leaving their college (and later) graduation dates off of their resumes.
I understand why they feel they need to do so, but at least with our clients, experience matters. Especially in this industry.
The reality in the real estate and construction world is that we lost a lot of talent during the downturn. People jumped ship, not because they wanted to, but because they had to, and for a good four to five years, companies that survived did so by operating with a skeleton crew.
Experienced and capable executives left for other opportunities, many to never return.
So the perception that it’s a bad thing, a disadvantage, a black mark, to be over a certain age and be competing in the real estate and construction job market with younger candidates is not reality, at least from our perspective.
When a client calls seeking a CEO, CFO, SVP or VP, the request always includes the requirement that the candidates possess a substantial amount of experience in, and knowledge about, the industry, experience they could not possibly have without at least a couple of decades worth of work under their respective belts.
Even for non-executive positions, the experience factor really is the key. One of my clients who needed superintendents and project managers for several luxury high-rise condominium projects specifically noted he did not want to see candidates who “manage from behind a desk,” “have never picked up a hammer” and just have a “shiny construction management degree” without having worked their way up through the trades.
Age was not factored into the equation; experience was.
All that being said, our clients do expect our candidates to be technologically savvy. It’s the world we live in. Technology has created efficiencies in every facet of this industry, and the candidates who get the jobs are the candidates proficient in the latest software, skilled in their use of social media, and able to adapt to changes in processes and systems. And while this may seem to be an implicit deterrent to Baby Boomer candidates’ success in the job market, recent research indicates the over-50 crowd is consuming more technology than their children and grandchildren, and that 68% of them use more than one device.
Some technology advice we routinely give to all candidates includes:
· Ensure you have a current profile on LinkedIn. That is still the first place companies look for talent, and if your LinkedIn profile is covered in proverbial cobwebs, you probably won’t get a second look. And a professional picture, please. No bathroom selfies, fuzzy pictures from a fun night out with friends, or vacation shots where you’re holding a great big fish.
· If you do not feel comfortable with the standard Office Suite workplace programs, take some time to familiarize yourself with them. There are YouTube videos you can access to learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation, manipulate an Excel spreadsheet, and utilize all of the productivity tools in Outlook.
· If your personal email address is some combination of your college nickname and lucky number, I strongly advise you create a new, professional email address with your first and last name, and use a provider like Gmail rather than AOL. This is the email address you should share with potential employers, have listed on your resume, and tied to your LinkedIn account.
Employers cannot ask a candidate’s age during the interview process, so the “I’ll leave my graduation date off my resume” trend may give some older candidates some level of comfort. Really, what that screams is “I don’t want you to know how old I am.”
But if you are properly emphasizing your experience in your resume, your age, truly, should not matter.