JT & Dale Talk Jobs: Firing up the career time machine

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am looking to get back into a profession I was in over 20 years ago. I was told that if I put work experience that’s older than 20 years on my résumé, I won’t be considered. But if I don’t put it on, how will they know that I know how to do the job? — Ari

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J.T.: It’s true that most recruiters don’t want to see work experience that’s over 20 years old. That’s because it’s hard for them to believe that the experience is still relevant. They’re likely to assume that the techniques you used are outdated. Plus, it’s been so long, they’ll wonder whether you really could easily recall it. My advice is to not list it in your work history section, but instead, put it in an Additional Experience section at the bottom of the résumé and skip listing the dates of employment. Then write a cover letter that explains why you want to get back into the profession.

DALE: Two things to remember about your résumé: First, it’s not your testimony, it’s your marketing tool. So, follow J.T.’s suggestion with a catchall at the end, and open with a Key Accomplishments section that has no dates but highlights your relevant skills and performance. Second, your résumé is not going to get you a job. Recruiters, human or digital, are looking for an exact match, and you aren’t it. You’re a special case and that will take a human connection.

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