How to Avoid Ann B. Davis' Fate as a Job Seeker
Davis' Wikipedia page suggests that she never completely retired from acting and appeared in several more recent Shake 'n Bake commercials, as well as ads for the disposable Swiffer mop. However, since no one seems to be mentioning anything she's done in the last 40 years in memorializing her, it's clear that she's being remembered for a role she embodied between 1969-1974.
If you're a jobseeker, one of the worst fates you can have is to realize that your glory days are behind you. No one wants to hire someone who can't point to a significant accomplishment in the last 10 years.
How can you avoid being remembered for something you haven't done in decades and make sure your resume and job search materials help the reader picture you doing great work in the future?
Don't dwell on the past.
Perhaps you are really proud of the award you won in college 20 years ago, or you were a star performer two jobs ago, but employers want to know what you can do today. Don't use your precious space on your resume waxing eloquent about accomplishments that didn't even happen in this decade, or employers will wonder if you have any good years ahead of you.
Don't leave off accomplishments from past jobs, but there's no need to feature something you mastered years ago as a focal point of your resume or in the resume's headline (Don't miss my tips about how to specifically address an employer's needs in your resume to land the job.)
While you're reevaluating your resume and focusing on the future – if you graduated more than a year or two ago, your education section (even if you did graduate summa cum laude) should move to the end of your resume.
Research the job requirements.
If you're featuring a particular skill or ability on your resume, but employers haven't been seeking that skill for more than five years, you'll immediately date yourself and give the impression you don't have needed skills for today's workplace. For example, you may be an expert at COBOL, but if your future company hasn't used that technology for years, it doesn't help you to mention it on your resume. Targeting your resume is crucial. Learn more in my articles about how to decode job descriptions to help you apply successfully.
Identify what the employer values and feature those skills and accomplishments in your materials if you don't want to be remembered for glory days gone by.
Take out your crystal ball.
Okay, no one really has a crystal ball, but take your head out from the sand and recognize if things are changing in your industry. Automation is everywhere in the workplace, and outsourcing no longer requires a company offshore jobs. If you work as a grocery clerk, your store likely incorporates self-check out machines. Restaurants are using tablets to take customer orders. What skill do you use that are becoming obsolete?
One sure way to know that your glory days at work are behind you is if the tools you rely on to excel at work are no longer in vogue. Keep an eye on the most in-demand jobs (here's a list) and try to keep in step with what's coming next in your industry or field. If you see the writing on the wall and it indicates you'll need to be prepared for some significant job description changes, you'll want to be ready to make a shift. (Here are some tips to help if your job description suddenly changes.)
Keep your skills current.
"Never stop learning" should be a mantra for every job seeker. Ideally, you'll pick up new skills while you're working to help make yourself more marketable a promotion. (Click through for my tips to help land a promotion.)
However, even if you're currently unemployed, you can still benefit by taking a class or teaching yourself new skills online. Luckily, there are many tools, such as Udacity, Coursera and the Khan Academy, where you can learn new skills for free. YouTube also offers many opportunities to learn new information.
Avoid Ann B. Davis' fate in your work life if you want your glory days to be ahead of you and not in the past.