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“RESUME WRITING 101” FOR OLDER WORKERS

“RESUME WRITING 101” FOR OLDER WORKERS

“RESUME WRITING 101” FOR OLDER WORKERS

The dilemma: You find yourself searching for a new job, and you are over 55. While ageism is alive and well in the job market, first impressions count heavily. Your first impression is often your resume, which potential employers see long before you (hopefully) meet them face to face. Your resume is your primary marketing tool, with the single goal of persuading an employer to want to meet you. Here are some useful tips for older workers to create a winning resume:

  •  Be honest: There is nothing to be gained by lying or exaggerating on a resume. If you over-state your skills or experience, at some point you may have to “walk the walk” and prove that you can do what you said you can do. The key is to apply for jobs for which you truly are qualified and then state your skills and experience in a way that shows the employer you are a likely candidate for the job.
  • Use key words: Potential employers will probably spend less than a minute perusing your resume, so make sure very word and sentence count. Use key words that either mirror what the job posting said, or that the employer is likely to look for. For example, if you apply for a job as a restaurant manager, keywords to include might include “controlled labor cost,” “inventory control” or “ongoing staff training.” Put yourself in the mindset of the employer and determine specific skills in which your new hire would need to be proficient.
  • Dates: Many older applicants tend to leave off their college graduation year or other date-related material. There is no point in doing this, as employers are savvy enough to know why dates are not included. “Own” your age, apply on your own merits and do not try to seem younger than you really are. You may be surprised that some employers actually prefer to hire mature workers because of their experience, industry knowledge and work ethic.
  • Keep it brief: Be as concise as possible and keep your resume brief. Since the employer will not spend a lot of time reading the resume, the more you can edit your document to just the essential language and information, the more likely it is to capture the employer’s attention. Avoid sentences such as, “Managed a staff of 56 employees of various ages, races, genders, and created an atmosphere of cooperation and productivity.” Instead, consider something shorter, such as, “Managed a diverse staff and fostered collaboration in the workplace.” The second sentence uses 10 words to say about the same thing the first 19-word sentence expressed.
  • Technology skills: Almost every job type and industry requires some type of technological proficiency. Sharpen your tech skills before you apply for a new job, and mention your skills in your resume. For example: “Proficient in the use of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Outlook.” (Again, be honest about your skills).
  • Include a cover letter: The purpose of a cover letter is to persuade the potential employer to want to read your resume. Do not repeat what is in your resume, but express some added value. For example, if your resume shows substantial experience in restaurant management, your cover letter might mention that in your present or last position you managed to lower labor cost by 10 percent in 12 months. That is an added value that the employer associates with the bottom line. Your cover letter should be brief (three short paragraphs), indicate what position you are interested in, indicate why you are a likely candidate for the job, and state at the end that you will contact the employer to set up a time to meet. Avoid “I hope to hear from you.” Instead, consider, “I will contact you next week to follow up.” Be proactive.
  • One size does not fit all: Finally, be willing to edit your resume to fit the position for which you are applying. You probably have skills that would apply to one type of job, but not necessarily be as relevant for another job type. Always re-read your resume before sending it, and make any necessary modifications. For example, if you apply for a retail sales position, your experience working with the public is important, but your background in managing payroll in another job may not be as persuasive.

Above all, have someone else read your resume before you send it. It always helps to have another set of eyes look it over, and listen to others’ perspectives on your document. Finally, proofread, proofread, proofread! Make sure you have no spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors.

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