Hobbies for the 50+ Lawyer's Resume

Q.A. Otenger Columns, Lawyer Leave a Comment

While doing some reading on resumes on the Internet, I came across a handy piece of advice.

Hobbies can also be used effectively to counter potential age bias. For example, the over 50 candidate might mention that she is a marathon runner to imply overall stamina, health, and fitness and to dissuade any bias that as an older worker the candidate lacks the necessary energy to do the job.

What? Seriously? Now, in addition to networking with people who have better things to do, drafting a resume, and dressing for success, I need to say I run marathons? Getting to 50 was a marathon. Does that count? Sure I could type on the resume, “training for a marathon” and when the interviewer asks how long I’ve been training, I will say , “Not long.” When he asks when the marathon takes place, I will reply, “Coming up!”

If that doesn’t work, which of my other hobbies could I mention to imply my “overall stamina, health and fitness” to counter the interviewer’s illegal bias?

  • With increasing frequency, I lose my car in the mall parking lot. The extra walking to find it has contributed an impressive set of calf muscles. Note to self: wear a skirt to the interview.
  • Although I only did it once, moving our seven ton pullout couch up the stairs while I was eight months pregnant certainly took some stamina. Just the memory reenergizes me and reminds me to never even contemplate something so strenuous again in this lifetime.
  • The time I went kayaking off the coast of Maine with people half my age. The resulting increased level of heart rate and blood pressure over several hours cleaned out all my arteries and veins for decades.

But really, even though I don’t want to practice law, I am not going to apply to be a circus acrobat. How much stamina does it take to sit in an office all day? Shouldn’t I be listing those hobbies that sharpen one’s sedentariness? I can only hope my resume lands in the inbox of an obese interviewer.

The article goes on to suggest I include “appropriate volunteer experience.” I certainly won’t include any of my inappropriate volunteering, like when I volunteered to organize a game of ding dong ditch on my elderly neighbor. No, I am quite sure I should have something inspired here, work with disabled tornado victims in Third World countries who have been bullied. I haven’t done that but I did volunteer on some law-related committees that took just as much energy. There is no such thing as a short meeting of lawyers.

Lastly, I am to “list relevant professional affiliations and make special mention of leadership roles held.” I think we can all agree that membership in professional associations is painful and boring. (e.g., I still shudder at my memory of a professional meeting I attended which kicked off with, “At tonight’s meeting, we want to take a close look at our bylaws.” ) Taking on a leadership position in a professional organization is a form of self-flagellation. The only task I volunteer for is to take minutes, but that is so I can doodle throughout the meeting and appear on task.

While my unconscious debates these sections I will move on to experience.

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