Month: January 2020


As an experienced career coach, I have found that at least 20% of my clients are over the age of 45. There is no telling how many so called “older workers” are so discouraged about their age that they reject even considering applying for a leadership job. My older clients ask: “I am an older candidate and feel that my age is working against me, how do I compete against these 30-something year-olds?”
I have worked with more than 650 educators, about 600 of whom are well-qualified. Sixty (60 %) percent of my well-qualified clients successfully get a job. The success rate of “older worker” clients is the same as the rest of my clients.

Most of us are aware that it is discriminatory to ask about your age; you will not be asked that question. However, in most cases it is not difficult to figure out your age. Your resume indicates the year you graduated from college; add 22 to how many years ago you graduated, and they have your age. You are not required to include that on your resume, but you do have to include your record; add 22 to how many years ago you got your first teaching job. Of course, at some point you will submit your college transcripts; your date of graduation is there. If you google yourself, you will find a free site that provides your age. Therefore, don’t hide it by leaving your date of graduation off of your resume. You will only be signaling that you are uncomfortable with your age. My advice is to be proud of who you are. How do you do that?

Usually the first question you will be asked on an interview will be: “Tell us about yourself”. This is your opportunity to tell your story. Take what you might consider to be a deficit and make it into a strength. What is implicit is that with age comes maturity, experience, good judgment; life experience. In my book, “Landing Your School Leadership Job“:, my advice is avoid reciting your work and educational experience in answering that first question. The interviewers already have that information in front them on your resume. What you should do is to describe the characteristics that make you stand out.

Describe your life experiences. Tell them about a problem you solved or a decision you made based upon your sound judgment. Be proud of your maturity. Employers want leaders and educators who have good judgment.

Attend Dr. Aronstein’s March 7th four-hour workshop.

Resumes That Get You Interviews

The job of your resume is to get you interviews. If you’re a fairly well qualified candidate and you aren’t getting interviews, or if your rate of getting interviews is low, let’s say lower than 40%, then your resume is probably your problem. Well qualified candidates should be getting interviews at least 50% of the time. If you aren’t getting this level of response, then you need to make revisions.

The people who screen resumes are busy. They receive hundreds of resumes for a single job posting. It takes experienced screeners only 30 to 45 seconds to review a resume. Therefore, you must immediately catch and hold their attention. Developing your resume is strategic.

Common mistakes that candidates make are that they follow out-dated “rules”. You should not: (1) limit your resume to one page; (2) start the resume with an objective; and (3) follow a strict order of categories (education, certification, professional experience…). No, no, no. Another mistake is your resume reading like a job description. The reader already knows what a teacher or an assistant principal does. Instead, your resume needs to clearly describe your accomplishments. What special experiences, skills and knowledge do you possess that will make you uniquely qualified to do this specific job, in this specific school-community?

Some job seekers struggle to identify their most significant accomplishments. Your greatest accomplishments may not be directly related to your professional experiences. Accomplishments may also define your true character or speak to a skill set or knowledge base that few candidates possess. A good career coach can stimulate your thinking and help you define yourself. I often advise my clients to add a category to their resume that might be labelled interests and activities. As an example, a candidate who was seeking a leadership position served as a chief of his local volunteer fire department. He supervised and trained scores of fire fighters.

Some additional suggestions are: Have your resume reviewed by a well informed and respected mentor, and get objective feedback. You may be too close to your own resume to be objective. Your resume is a work in progress. Continuously revise it depending on feedback, the uniqueness of the position for which you are applying, and the results you are getting in terms of the number of interviews you are getting.

Here are a few of my guidelines for writing resumes that get action:
1. Less is More—stick to the point
2. Accomplishments; Not Job Description
3. Lead with Your Strengths (list them near the top—catch attention)
4. Ignore Most Rules (omit objective; determine your own sequence of categories and timeline; keep format simple)
5. Start Bullet Statements with Action Verbs (past tense)
6. Emphasize Accomplishments that Match Job Posting –make them the top bullets
7. Omit Irrelevant Activities and Experiences for the Position
8. Interests & Activities Can Capture Attention– acting, interesting hobbies, unique travel experiences, fluent speaker of foreign languages
9. Tailor for Different Demographics (urban, affluent or blue-collar community, small town, rural)
10. Set Maximum Number of Bullets– current position 6-8; prior 3-5; before that 2-3
11. Sweat the Mechanics– spelling, subject-verb agreement, capitalization and punctuation; grammar; word selection; consistent format; readable font size
12. Cover Letter– 3-4 paragraphs– always required but seldom read
13. References upon Request
14. Get Authoritative Feedback—friends and family are well-meaning but often lead you astray
15. Never Confuse or Mislead the Reader– clear timeline; short and simple sentences
16. Never Lie or Exaggerate

Dr. Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching for leaders and aspiring leaders. His e-book is available at: Check out his website at