Job Hunting, In Data Science, Over Age 40

career advice job hunting pride + inclusion resumes Oct 25, 2022
Two aging robot portraits.

First thing first! If you're over 40 and job hunting with little success - you personally are not the reason things may be moving slow. There are at least two main reasons established professionals sometimes have difficulties job searching later in their careers.

First, we can forget everything we learned about being a savvy job candidate in our early 20s. Second, its been 20 years or more for many of us since we had to know how to be a savvy job candidate. Instead we've been too busy doing well building and growing our career.

This post, and this blog in general, aims to help solve those two problems.

Take A Closer Look At Your Resume

For example, it might be time to take a closer look at your resume. Just because you're qualified for the position doesn't mean resume will automatically show you as most qualified. Despite your qualifications, these days your resume has to move through too many filters. Unfortunately those filters usually operate on crude keyword based scoring mechanisms.

Learn A Bit About Applicant Tracking Systems

  • An ATS is a software application that helps employers streamline the job search and screening process. By automatically sorting and ranking resumes based on keywords and other factors, an ATS can help employers save time and energy when reviewing job applications.
  • When an employer posts a job opening, they will often include a list of required skills or qualifications. These might include things like specific educational requirements or years of relevant experience. Based on these criteria, an ATS will automatically screen resumes and rank them accordingly.

For example, let's say an employer is looking for a candidate with at least five years of experience in data science. The ATS will scan all of the resumes it receives and flag any that don't seem to meet that criterion. As a result, candidates with fewer than five years of experience might not even be considered for the job—regardless of their qualifications or whether they're actually a good fit for the role.

Unfortunately, even though the ATS automated scoring process may do well in screening based on this kind and level of experience, it is possible that the automated systems can make mistakes. This is why it's so important to carefully read job descriptions and tailor your resume accordingly. In addition to making sure your resume includes all of the necessary qualifications, you also want to include relevant keywords and phrases wherever possible. This will help ensure your resume makes it through the initial screening process and into the hands of a human reviewer.

If you're on the job market, there's a good chance you've already come across applicant tracking systems (ATSs). These software applications are designed to help employers simplify the search and screening process—but they're not perfect. Sometimes good candidates can be overlooked if their resumes don't match the keywords and phrases found in the job description. However, by taking the time to understand how ATSs work and how to optimize your resume for them, you can increase your chances of landing that dream job.

General Advice To Help Do Well After The ATS Scores You Well

  • Hard numbers are hard to know. Anecdotally, conventional sources of wisdom suggest your reader decides if you're qualified in six seconds and spends about 15 seconds deciding if they'll give you an interview.
  • Few readers either have - or will make - time to read every word on your resume, so you need to be strategic about what information you include and where you place it. Manage reader focus by making sure the most important information is easy to find and digest. 


When job hunting over 40, it's important to have a resume that stands out from the rest. If you're not getting the results you want - remember that the problems are probably not you personally and probably not your specific qualifications. A good place to start in troubleshooting: take a close look at your resume and see where you might make improvements.

Job seekers over the age of 40 can improve their chances of getting hired by tailoring their resumes to match the job descriptions they are applying for, and by understanding how applicant tracking systems work. This information is important for established professionals to know and review and also to take seriously. The temptation for job seekers over the age of 40 is to think "I did well in job applications in my 20s, so I should do well now." Also tempting to think "What worked well before is going to work again." No. That thought process is short-sighted.

Specifically, established professionals need to familiarize themselves with applicant tracking systems which are software applications that help employers streamline the job search. Supposedly these automated software applications implement screening process by automatically sorting and ranking resumes based on keywords and other factors. By including relevant keywords and phrases in their resumes, job seekers can increase their chances of making it through the initial screening process and into the hands of a human reviewer.

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