Finding a job is a job in itself: researching, sending emails, networking, and then waiting (patiently!) for the results. But a well-written resume can actually do some of the work for you, highlighting your experience and showcasing your skills. “It’s a myth that employers won’t recruit people over 50. They want the person who brings the most value to the team,” says Chris Delaney, career advisor and author of Influencing the Interview.
Here’s how to make it happen if you’re in the market for a job >>
You don’t have to put the year you graduated from college—the fact that you have a degree is enough. You can also leave out very early job history and the dates of jobs more than 20 years old (put ‘4 years’ instead of 1982-1985). Consider nixing a few positions, too. “If you’ve been in the workforce for a substantial amount of time, don’t list every single job you’ve ever held,” advises Nicole Orisich, an expert in tough career transitions in New York City. Include the highlights, and jobs you consider to be the most important.
It's totally acceptable for your resume to run to a second page, says Orisich. Still, most employers initially skim before re-reading, so even when you submit a resume electronically, keep an eye on its length. Because experience older than 10 years may not be considered current, give a snapshot of how you made a difference in this decade (quarterly goals met, collaborations with departments, money saved), rather than listing every job with 5 or 6 duties. If you can't chop down your resume, get editing help from a career center.
"Your resume's objective is a key feature—particularly if you are applying to a large organization on spec," explains Delaney. Without an objective, an employer may not be aware of the position you're after. Some 50+ job seekers may want a job in a fun 'hobby' area (a banker who'd like to give golf lessons or an educator hoping to teach English as a second language), so if you fall into this camp, be sure your goal/objective reflects this interest. Get creative if you don't have much current work experience: list volunteer positions, education, responsibilities, hobbies, or even hardships you've overcome.
Keywords such as "results driven", "accomplished" or "valued team-player" can often be a factor in the initial screening process, with some employers using job search sites like Monster.com to sift for potential candidates by job title. Employers also look for certain key words they're interested in on your resume/cover letter. Find the right words to use by doing the following: "Review three to five desired positions, scan the duties, and then use these relevant terms throughout your resume," advises Matthews. If you're still unsure of which key words to include, copy the duties on Wordle.net and the keywords will populate the screen.
You’ve gained vast knowledge and broad experience, so focus your resume on these selling points. You're selling yourself as an authority. Be as detailed as you can when explaining how years of dedicated employment have made you an expert in your field. Also include an example or two in your employment history that shows how your valuable background has increased profits or landed accounts. You want to include pieces of information that show growth and profitability for the companies you've worked for in the past.
Younger applicants tend to job hop every few years, looking for the next opportunity. This may be great for the worker, but it’s also a burden for the employer who then has to advertise, interview, and train someone new. As a 50+ candidate, you’re likely looking for a position where you can stay for the next 10-15 years. You not only bring maturity and experience to the job, but you also offer longevity—an important issue to cover in your opening statement.
Post, blog, tweet—establish a social media presence and then include that in your resume and/or cover letter, says Debra Ann Matthews, a resume expert at Let Me Write it For You. Having an active (meaning you've done more than just sign up) Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or a blog all show you’re modern, plugged in, and comfortable with social media platforms. You want to establish the fact that you are on top of the tech trends, which are so important in business today. Also, hyperlink your email address so an HR rep can contact you quickly, set your voice mail to a professional greeting, and list any new or noteworthy software programs you know (don’t bother with Microsoft Word—everyone knows that one), but knowing PowerPoint, Excel, PhotoShop and other programs help. And if you don't know them, consider taking a class at your local community college or library.
Speaking of LinkedIn and Facebook, pay close attention to the photo you use. You want to look healthy, alert, and natural (no blurring to hide wrinkles). Make sure you're wearing well-chosen, professional attire. An attractive hair cut or blow out and good posture are a must.
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