Highlighting Skills Over Age

Tom Bjorgum says many employers are more than willing to overlook a few gray hairs if a job seeker has a world of good experience. 

A Vietnam War veteran with a long career in engineering and marketing, Bjorgum lost his job at a motion automation company at age 59.

He put together a chronological resume, worked the Internet job sites, networked through a job group at his church and hoped for the best.

When no offers came, a job-search expert suggested that Bjorgum write a skills-based resume, emphasizing his talent rather than career. He bought a resume software package and started over.

A Matter of Mind Over Gray Hair

His new resume landed him an interview with a company that had posted an opening on Monster.com., and a week later, he was sitting in an office entertaining a job offer.

The key to getting the job, he believes, was using a skills resume and only listing relatively recent jobs within the past 10 to 15 years, rather than highlighting his entire career. Having the rare combination of engineering and marketing helped, too.

"I felt I was in the driver's seat at the end, especially when I interviewed with the president of the company, and I felt there was a sense of urgency to get someone hired," he says. "I had good timing."

On Salary Negotiations

The job offer had one downside: the company that wanted to hire him offered a salary less than half the amount he had once earned. But Bjorgum figured he could negotiate a higher salary and a better deal on the bonus payout that occurred twice a year.

"I did some research on salaries of sales engineers in the Twin Cities. It showed the average was $83,000 a year," he says. "That helped in negotiations." The result: another $10,000 added to Bjorgum's salary and a larger percentage in bonuses.

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