Today I Learned...
our resume after age 50 is a little different than when you were 30 or even 40. It's time to ditch the decades-old strategy of listing every job you've ever had, and focus on what matters most: grabbing attention.
Here are 10 tips for making sure your resume gets noticed by hiring managers, no matter your age:
1. Resume formatting matters.
You should use a simple and straightforward layout. Keep it simple with no more than two or three columns of information and no fancy fonts. If your resume uses more than three columns, you may be trying to fit too much content on the page and appear unprofessional.
You should also avoid small fonts that are hard to read, such as script or italics (unless you are applying for a job in publishing). Use bold, italic, and underline formatting sparingly so that important information stands out but does not overpower everything else.
2. Include a profile statement.
A profile statement is a short introduction to yourself. It should be 100 words or less and written in the third person, describing how you would like others to know you (for example, “Heather is a multi-talented graphic designer who enjoys being part of an interdisciplinary team”).
Keep in mind that your resume is often going to be viewed by people who have not met you before, so it's important for them to get a sense of who you are through this one statement. To write a good profile statement, think about what kind of impression you want to make on potential employers and then write accordingly.
3. Quantify your work achievements.
Remember that when you're writing your resume, you need to include quantifiable achievements.
For example, if you had an internship at a company, write down the number of people who reported to you. If your job title was "Human Resources Manager," make sure that it's clear in the description of your experience whether or not this was a full-time position or part-time (or even volunteer).
4. Use a modern font.
The first thing to consider when choosing a font is readability. Your resume should be easy to read and easy on the eyes. It's also important that your resume uses one typeface throughout because fonts should be consistent across all of your documents, including cover letters and reference sheets.
Here are some tips:
- Stay in line with the industry you're applying for: If you are applying for a job in healthcare or finance, using Helvetica or Times New Roman will be acceptable; however, if you're applying for a job in tech or media then choose something like Arial instead.
- Consider personality: Use font size and bolding wisely so that it doesn’t overwhelm readers but still shows who you are! If it makes sense for your personality then perhaps go with something fun like Comic Sans (just make sure it works well with the rest of your resume).
5. Don't leave any gaps.
If you have been unemployed for a long period of time, it's probably not worth mentioning on your resume. But if it was only a few months or even weeks, consider explaining the circumstances in your cover letter or interview. If there is no good explanation for the gap, leave it off your resume altogether.
To learn more about how to handle gaps, check out our article: How to Handle Gaps in Your Resume.
6. Give details about responsibilities and skills for each job you list.
It's important to give details about your responsibilities and skills for each job you list. Briefly describe the role you held, and then list the skills and experience you gained. Make sure to include action verbs that describe your accomplishments: "planned," "managed," "developed," etc.
If there are any key results from your work that stand out as particularly impressive or relevant, use bullet points to highlight them. Describe these results in terms of business outcomes—for instance, "reduced customer complaints by 50%" rather than just listing a number without context ("customer complaints reduced from 10 per month to 5").
7. Emphasize on-the-job experience and accomplishments.
If you want to get hired, it's essential that you show recruiters what you're capable of. Your resume should highlight your experience and accomplishments in a way that shows how well prepared you are for the job.
The following tips will help guide you through this process:
- Use the right words. When writing your resume, use keywords from the position description as often as possible. If there is a specific software program or type of industry jargon that's important to the role, make sure it appears on your resume at least once (but don't overdo it).
- Use action verbs when describing past work experiences- for example, instead of saying "I was responsible for", say "I managed" or "Lead".
- Include numbers wherever possible- they provide proof of growth/performance and make your accomplishments more concrete than statements alone can do!
- Make sure formatting looks consistent across all documents.
8. Include tech skills, but don't stretch the truth!
There's a fine line between taking advantage of an opportunity and stretching the truth. Be honest with yourself as you consider what skills to include on your resume:
- Don't list skills you don't have. If you're uncertain whether or not you have a certain skill, it's best to leave it off.
- Don't list skills that are outdated or too advanced for your current position.
- Don't list skills that are too basic for your current position.
9. Use the industry standard resume language.
As you write your resume, keep in mind that the language you use is very important. You can make or break your resume with the right words.
Here are a few tips to help you choose verbs that accurately reflect both your experience and age.
- Use action verbs and active voice: An action verb shows what someone has done rather than just describing an event (e.g., "brought in revenue," not "generated revenue"). Action verbs are more powerful than phrases such as "responsible for." Also, avoid passive voice; this means using "was" instead of "was responsible for" and other variations on that theme (e.g., “I was responsible for…” instead of “I brought in revenue…”). The hiring manager will find it much easier to read through resumes when they're written using active voice statements—and they'll be impressed by how much responsibility you've taken on!
- Match your experience with the job description: When writing skills descriptions within each entry-level position's duties section (which is usually located toward the top of its individual page), take care not to copy over any information from another job description so that all entries look original and unique—but also similar enough so as not raise any red flags amongst anyone who might otherwise notice discrepancies between them later down he road during an interview process if hired at all!
It's important to keep up with the latest trends in resume writing, many of which have changed over time.
As professionals, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends in resume writing, many of which have changed over time.
And remember, it’s not just about you. It's about presenting yourself as an asset to any company that considers hiring you. If your resume isn't up-to-date with today's trends, how can employers trust that you'll be able to do the job well? Use this guide as a starting point for building your own perfect resume after age 50—and good luck!