How to Write a Resume That Will Boost Your Career as an Older Professional

Searching for a job when you’re over 50 is never easy and can be stressful. But having the right resume can help. Discover how to write a resume that gets results when you’re an older professional — as well as some resume tips for what not to do.

The fact is not every resume is created equal.

But the stakes are high for your resume. It may be your only chance to make a good first impression. Your resume has the potential to get you in the door for an interview. Or, if done poorly, it could land you in the reject pile.

So how can you make sure your resume shines in front of potential employers?

Let’s consider 12 recommendations on how to write a resume that gets real results for older professionals who are looking to boost their careers.

How to Write a Resume That Gets the Best Results

1. Don’t Go Back More Than 10-15 Years

You’ve built a lot of experience during your career. While that’s great, you don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had. Keep your resume succinct and go back only 10 to 15 years.

After all, the further back you go, the less relevant your experience will be for employers now.

Instead of being stuck in the past, expound on the details of your recent job experience.

2. Include a Link to Your LinkedIn Profile

Today’s job candidates leverage social media in their candidacy — especially LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a powerful addition to your resume. Here you can present an in-depth summary of your work history, publish articles, and upload relevant images and videos. Rounding out your profile can be endorsements from people who know your work. Better yet, this is all in one place for employers to see.

You might also consider including other relevant links, such as additional social media links or URLs for your website or blog.

3. Optimize Your Resume with Keywords

Most recruiters today use artificial intelligence and hiring bots to scan through resumes to weed out unqualified candidates. But if you don’t know how the system works, your highly qualified resume could be shunted aside before any human eyes get to see it.

How is this done? Tools scan through resumes and look for specific keywords. If your lack certain keywords it never gets in front of a hiring manager.

How do you know what keywords to include? One important way is to pay attention to a company’s job post. If it includes specific words several times, chances are those are the important keywords.

Another way is to do an internet search to discover what keywords employers in your industry use in vetting candidates. For example, if you enter a search query like “resume keywords marketing” in Google, you’ll see several lists of popular resume keywords for the marketing industry. You can then narrow it down by reflecting on your specific role or comparing these words to the job listing itself.

4. Draw Attention to Your Promotions


Promotions are a big deal to employers. They show that you were not stagnant at a company — that you grew into new and trusted roles during your tenure.

How do you show your promotions on a resume? Use one heading for the company where you worked, and under that, nest each role you had along with the responsibilities for that role.

Here’s how that would look:

Company XYZ

Vice President of Sales

  • Responsibility A
  • Responsibility B

Manager of Sales Team

  • Responsibility A
  • Responsibility B

Intern

  • Responsibility A
  • Responsibility B

You get the idea.

5. Feature Your Achievements

Every resume has a list of skills. But a key way to set yourself apart is to show those skills in action by highlighting your achievements.

Use this simple equation: problem + solution = results.

For example, instead of writing “I worked with xyz CRM,” you might say….

To address a downward trend in sales, I implemented a new CRM solution generating 30% more sales.

6. Use Numbers and Details

This can make a difference in your resume helping it stand out. Exact numbers and details add power to your skills and bring them to life.

For example, someone might simply put down

Wrote email marketing copy

But doesn’t this carry more punch?

Increased email opens by 22% and click-throughs by 50%.

See the difference? It not only shows the work you performed but also the impact that you had.

7. Include a Summary

Your resume’s most valuable real estate is it's top third. This is where employers will focus. Include here a killer summary, explaining your objectives and value.

Instead of focusing on what you want, use this section to focus on what your prospective employer wants.

For example, instead of…

Seasoned marketing professional seeking a position within a financial services firm.

you could do something like…

Seasoned marketing professional with over 15 years of experience who wishes to increase sales leads for XYZ Firm by 20%.

Do you see how the second example highlights what you can do for the employer, and not the other way around? It’s an important detail that helps to distinguish you.

8. Show Career Progress

Your career progression is like a story, so tell it well. You didn’t just show up one day as the CFO of XYZ Enterprises — you earned it through hard work. And your resume should reflect that.

Perhaps you started as an intern, then progressed to associate, then managing director, before finally reaching your role as head of the department. Each title sets the stage for the next and tells its own compelling story if you properly frame it.

9. Trim Unnecessary Fat

Your resume is not the place to wax poetic about your career. Hiring managers in particular want resumes getting to the point. Review it multiple times to cut out the unnecessary fluff and focus on the important points.

What does this mean? Here are a few pointers to clean up your resume:

  • Economize your words to focus on the most important.
  • Keep your bulleted lists to no more than six points.
  • Don’t include extra, unnecessary sections.
  • Cut long sections eliminating words and sentences that are superfluous.

10. Go to Two Pages If You Need It

We’ve all heard this advice when learning how to write a resume: “Keep your resume to one page.” And that works for new professionals. But when you’ve had 15 or 20 years in an industry, it’s only natural for your resume to take up more space.

And recruiters and employers even expect experienced candidates to have resumes that span two pages.

But don’t go beyond two pages. After all, recruiters and employers spend only a brief amount of time looking at your resume before deciding to take it to the next step. Make each second count by consolidating your information.

11. Mention Your Tech Savviness

As I’ve talked about before, ageism is a real problem that affects many job candidates over the age of 50. One false idea that fuels this prejudice is the idea that older people don’t keep up with technology.

Use your resume to strategically combat this idea. Highlight the technologies and technical skills that you have used in your career — from Microsoft Office to AI tools, if applicable.

And, if you realize that there are tech skills you don’t yet have, learn them. There are online sites, such as Coursera, with courses you can take. Then you can add those skills to your resume with confidence.

12. Don’t Call Attention to Your Age

While employers are not supposed to discriminate based on age, we all know it happens. So don’t give them a chance.

Avoid using dates that announce your age, such as when you attended college or received a certain certification. Instead, leave the dates out of your resume. True, they may ask you questions about your age or graduation year, but there’s no need to volunteer that information.

As businesses look to the post-pandemic future, many are planning a hybrid model that combines remote work with time in the office. Some organizations may allow some employees to be fully remote, only traveling into workplaces for occasional meetings.

After a year of working from home, many would-be office workers are keen to continue working remotely. According to a FlexJobs survey of more than 2,100 people, 65% would prefer to work fully remotely while 33% would like a hybrid arrangement. A further three in five said they would quit if they weren’t allowed to work from home in the future – in order to find remote work elsewhere.

However, landing a remote job when you’re competing for a single role alongside hundreds of other candidates can be tricky. When you’re up against applicants from all over the world, how can you make your CV stand out from the crowd? And how can you avoid the mistakes job seekers commonly make?

Tailor your CV and cover letter to each job

When you’re applying for multiple jobs, it’s tempting to send the same CV and cover letter to each employer. However, adapting each application to the role is important.

“A resume and cover letter are key in showcasing your professional background and why you’re the best candidate for a job,” says Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs and Remote.co.

“We've reviewed and written thousands of resumes through FlexJobs' Career Coaching program, and the top candidates always tailor their resumes for every application. The same goes for cover letters – which are just as important in the application process.”

Earlier this year, a ResumeLab survey of 200 hiring managers found that 83% of the time, a solid cover letter led recruiters to offer interviews to candidates with less-than-perfect resumes. It’s also important to include keywords from the job advert in your CV, as resumes may be screened for these.

Highlight previous remote experience

If your goal is to land a remote job, you should include details about your previous remote experience throughout your resume and cover letter. Remote working often requires people to work more autonomously.

“Be sure to also highlight the specific skills that make you a good remote worker, such as written and verbal communication, organization and productivity, great time and task management, and having a growth mindset,” says Reynolds.

Adding "remote" or "partial remote" next to your job title will clearly show that you worked remotely. The same goes for remote volunteer or school experiences too.

Highlight collaboration and communication

If you want to apply for a remote job but don’t have previous remote or hybrid experience, including information about how you’ve collaborated with other teams can help.

Many everyday tasks highlight the skills employers want in a remote worker, such as working with colleagues via Google Docs and using apps like Trello and Asana to organize work among teams. Including this experience can show that you’re up to date with many remote working tools.

Showcase your communication skills and emphasize how familiar you are with messaging platforms. It’s also important to show how you manage yourself or problem-solve on your own.

List your achievements, not just tasks

Listing your tasks and responsibilities is important, but it’s also essential to highlight your achievements and accomplishments too. Think about the impact you had at your job and use the STAR method to include the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

As CVs should be short and succinct, it may be better to include this information in your cover letter. You may have more space to elaborate on the results of your actions, what you accomplished and what was improved.

Don’t overly format your CV

As recruiters are likely to be working through hundreds of CVs at a time, it’s essential to keep your formatting clear. Making a resume look fancy might make it stand out, but if it’s illegible and difficult to scan quickly, hiring managers may disregard it.

Likewise, applicant tracking systems can have difficulty scanning certain formatting elements, such as columns, text boxes, tables, and uncommon fonts. According to FlexJobs, these tracking systems can have trouble scanning contact information if it is included in the header or footer of a document, so it can help to include it at the top of the main body of the CV.

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