Resume help, please: Age vs. Experience

Last summer I joined the great legion of those who have been called into the office and “let go”,and it wasn’t by someone who looked like George Clooney. I immediately updated my resume and started a-hunting, but like many people here I’ve had little success.

I’ve spent the weekend updating the resume again to be punchier and with more actions words and solid results, etc., but a friend of mine I consulted yesterday pointed out something: I graduated college in 1986 and had a steady job for eleven years after that, and since 2000 I’ve been mostly a freelancer and contracter (some for jobs of nearly two years), but it looks like I’ve been skipping around a bit too much, she thinks. I had left off my first longterm job because a) it’s not on a path I want my career to take now, and b) I didn’t want people to know I’m in my forties in this economy (I don’t look it in person but I need to get the interview first).

Now I’m wondering if this was a good idea, and if maybe I look like a screwup rather than a freelancer. Thoughts?

I would put your company, job title and years of your first job, even if it’s in a different industry, just to show that you are capable of holding a long-term job. You don’t have to put any other details, really, if it’s not relevant to what you’re looking for.

ETA: It also accounts for “missing years” so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to hide something like a prison sentence or an eleven year bender.

I don’t know what your career field is but I interviewed last year at 56 (and look it) and got the job. A degree from 86 and you’re in your forties does not sound bad to me. Contracting by definition can be a lot of skipping around, I would think most people interviewing nowadays would understand this.

good luck. and consider a career field type resume, not a chronological one.

When I was doing short term gigs, I put them under one heading of Contract or Freelance Work X, with the years (2005-2009 or whatever) then listed the companies/duties below. The goal is to demonstrate it was a deliberate decision on your part to work in this fashion, not that you’re a flaky person who can’t hold a job. (I agree with also listing your long-term job)

A lot of people work this way, it’s not a knock. Make it clear in your cover letter that you were freelancing for a while, but have chosen to search now for full-time employment with a single employer you can devote your skills to.

My mother worries about my resume, because I did a bunch of temp work, and I’ve got two defunct companies with less than a year on my resume. I make it clear that I went the “start up” route, and it took until the 3rd one before the company itself stuck around. In my case particularly, it seems like everyone in silicon valley over the age of 30 has at least one failed dotcom on their resume. It’s part of the culture. I’ve never had a problem. If it’s discussed at all, interviewers often share their experience working on a folding table and hoping their paycheck wouldn’t bounce.

This. Did you set up any sort of tax entity to handle your freelance/contractor income? Put that down (or “Contractor/Freelance work”) as the header.

I also agree that you should put your first job on. Assuming your freelance work is in the area you want to continue in, what you did last counts for far more than what you did first.

From what I read being a contractor is good now, since companies are getting more work but are too skittish to hire full time people. My wife is a free lance writer, and her work has actually picked up during the crash.

I graduated in 1977 and have done mostly contract work. I label every entry on my resume (I only go back 10 years) as either contract or fulltime. It immediately squelches the concept of jobhopping.

Thanks everybody! I’ll put it back on because, as a friend of mine said last night, “You’re in the prime of your life right now, why hide it?” (Why I’m not dating George Clooney and living in a Greenwich Village brownstone is the question).

I have to look into separating on-contract and permanent jobs; how does it look on the page?

I wouldn’t give a shit if you were a 90 year-old Giant Isopod, as long as you got your work done.

Come to think of it, your typing skills would be awesome.


I’m pretty sure that’s what Gregor Samsa was turned into.

I just turned 60 and my resume is all over the place too. I broke it down into categories to show all my skills. Administrative Assistant (which included 10 1/2 years at one company and several long-term temp jobs in-between things. Design (with sub-categories of Interior Design and Graphic Design–again some being freelance) and, finally, Retail (in a design center for 7 years, which was my last job). Some things overlapped at the same time–like freelance graphic design and the retail job.

I only put dates for the last job. On the longer jobs I mentioned how many years. For instance, one of the long-term temp jobs was 3 years. The company had a hiring freeze and I mentioned that. They finally hired some of the people I made friends with there after 5 years. Major corporation that anyone has heard of so it would be easy for an HR to check if they wanted to verify.

When I get a response (few and far between in this economy, unfortunately) people are impressed with all the varied experience so I don’t think I’m coming off as a flake. It’s just a tough market so I’m out for longer than I want now but the right place will recognize that I can do a good job for them and that I can be flexible and adaptable.