How To Write A Resume
How to Write a Resume As an Older Job Seeker
Resume advice is often oriented towards younger workers just entering the job market, whose most significant accomplishment may be their college graduation and who have likely had little substantial work experience. However, older job seekers re-entering the workforce or applying for a new job at an age after many of their peers have retired will face a different set of challenges when putting together a resume. As an older job seeker, you’ll need to indicate that skills from prior employment can be transferred to your new position, and show a familiarity with social media sites like LinkedIn.
Describing Your Work Experience
Open with an executive summary.Avoid opening your resume with a “resume objective” which lays out all of your work experience chronologically, as this can make you appear old or over-experienced for the position. Rather, use the opening summary or narrative to describe list work experience from the previous decade.
- This structure will also allow you a space to explain what you can offer the company and how your professional skills will benefit them, if hired.
Limit your opening summary to four sentences.This brevity will let you concisely describe why you are the ideal candidate for the job in question, using skills that you have acquired in your last decade (or so) of work experience.Tailor the language of your opening summary to align with the specific position requirements given in the job posting. If you feel that you need to mention work experience that outlines the most recent decade, consider adding it farther down your resume, in a section titled “Previous Work Experience” or “Additional Work Experience.”
- For example, one of the sentences in your opening summary could state, “I am a skilled communicator with over eight years of experience, and I have demonstrated my ability to oversee multiple projects while meeting frequent deadlines.”
Emphasize transferable skills.Transferable skills are those which you have acquired in one field of work—or in one long-term job—which can be transferred and applied to another professional field and job. When hiring older workers, employers are often concerned that the workers’ job skills will have become limited and stagnant; indicate otherwise by describing ways in which your skills from previous jobs will be applicable to your new potential job.
- Transferable skills include things like the ability to communicate with a range of employees and executives in a company, management skills (including delegating responsibilities to subordinates, and simultaneously overseeing multiple projects), and interpersonal proficiencies (being able to motivate and resolve conflicts with others).
- You may have acquired transferable skills outside of the workplace; these deserve to be mentioned on your resume too. For example, if you had a career as a homemaker, did substantial volunteer work, or have gaps of unemployment in your past, find ways you can present skills acquired during these periods of your life as transferable.
Focus on your recent and relevant experience.As a general rule, the “Past Employment” section of your resume should highlight your most outstanding professional achievements. That said, it will not look impressive if most of your successes were in the 1980s or 1990s. Tailor your resume to focus strongly on recent professional work and achievements. Your priority in the resume should be to feature skills and strengths that make you a viable candidate for the job, and that you have implemented in recent employment. It’s less important that you exhaustively catalogue decades of previous work experience.
- For example, describe job experience with statements like: “Oversaw software development and managed teams of developers from 2005 to 2015.” Even if you held this position before 2005, focusing only on the most recent decade will allow you to present your most up-to-date skills.
Making Yourself a Viable Hire
Mention your online presence.Social media can play a large role in the hiring processes of many agencies and organizations, who will look not only at your LinkedIn profile, but also at your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as applicable. Describe your online presence on your resume, and provide links to the social-media pages that you would like your potential employers to access. When job hunting, these sites—especially LinkedIn—should be regularly updated and maintained just as careful as your paper-copy resume.
- Include a statement to the effect of: “I have stayed current with hiring practices and job-search procedures, and list relevant information about my past work experience at my LinkedIn profile [include URL]. I am also active on Facebook and Twitter.”
Mention in brief your reason for not having an online presence.Alternately, if you prefer not to have an online social media presence, note this clearly on your resume. It’s better to acknowledge the fact that you choose not to market yourself online than to risk appearing out of touch with modern technology and hiring practices.
- You can simply include a statement such as: “While I realize that some parts of the job-search process can take part online, I have chosen not to use a site such as LinkedIn because I would prefer my professional experience be summarized only on my resume.”
Reformat and streamline your resume.Modern resumes are brief: they typically comprise no more than two pages. If your resume follows outdated resume-writing conventions—especially if the style of your resume is decades old—you will appear professionally out-of-touch and a poor choice to fill the position. Remove excess verbiage from your paragraphs, and focus on using active verbs that highlight professional skills.
- Only include a couple of concise bullet points describing your responsibilities at each prior job. Use verbs and active language, for example: “Developed material for cooling semi-truck radiators that saved 0,000 per year.”
Select a functional or combination resume format.While conventional chronological resumes present employment information from most recent to oldest and span an individual’s entire working career, this can be detrimental to older job seekers. Your decades of experience may make you appear too old or over-qualified for the job. Either a functional or combination resume will let you present your workplace proficiencies without relying on dates. Plan to format your resume in one of these two styles:
- A functional resume highlights the skills that you’ve acquired over your career, regardless of chronology, and is a good choice for people with gaps in their work history.
- A combination resume balances professional skills with your work history by first listing your relevant skills and experiences, and then giving a brief chronology of your work experiences.
Don’t list “references available” at the bottom of your resume.This is an outdated resume-composition technique which would appear out of place on a contemporary resume. The assumption here is that the prospective employer will contact you if they’d like to move forward in the hiring process and contact your references, so you don’t need to provide the names of references prior to (or in) the interview.
- Of course, you will need to have the names and contact information (at least email and phone) of 2–4 individuals who will be able to vouch for your professional and personal excellence.
- You can include a brief sentence at the bottom of your resume: “Professional references available upon request.”
Proofreading Your Resume
Revise out-of-date phrases.Depending on how long ago you thoroughly overhauled and re-wrote your resume, it may feature professional or colloquial expressions that sound dated in today’s work place, or that no longer carry the same meaning. Read through your resume closely, and rewrite any decades-old business jargon or verbiage that makes you look old and out of touch with the professional world.
- For example, you and your resume would appear outdated if you use the term “director of personnel.” Businesses have scrapped this term and instead use terms like “talent acquisition.”
- To get an idea of the type of language that a specific employer is looking for, read through the company’s online job posting or list of desired qualifications in potential employees. Then, use similar language when fleshing out your resume.
Don’t include graduation or class dates in your resume.When drafting your resume to make yourself competitive in the contemporary job market, avoid specifying dates on which degrees were earned or professional class were completed, as this will automatically make you appear older. Focus on the most recent relevant experiences within the category of education and professional coursework.
- For example, if you have a college degree, avoid mentioning high school on your resume.
Include the correct keywords in your resume.Keywords are specific words or phrases that automated resume-scanning systems are keyed to pick up on. Modify your resume, and especially the opening summary of experiences, to include keywords specific to your field and to the position you’re applying for. This will ensure that hiring personnel see your resume and it’s not discarded by an email filter.
- To find appropriate keywords, you can search for your position on a job-search website. Results will also yield a list of keywords commonly associated with the position. You can then plug these keywords into your own resume.
- For example, if you’re applying for a paralegal position, employers will likely expect keywords like “paralegal,” “years of experience,” “legal system,” and “law firm.”
Ask a family member or friend to review your resume draft.It’s easy to miss small errors on your own resume: small typos, sentences that could be better composed, or instances of descriptive wording that could be improved to present you as a better prospective hire. Having a friend look over the document for you before you apply for a job will help you catch and improve these errors and spots for improvement.
- You could also enlist the assistance of a professional resume coach, if you have the time and financial resources. A resume coach will help you tailor your resume for the job(s) you’re applying to, and will have further tips of how to use your age to your advantage.
Sources and Citations
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