While writing a resume for a client recently, I was reminded once again how important it is to have your ducks in a row.
Oh, did I mention that she’s in her late 50s and has just relocated to an area with a high unemployment rate? Writing an attention-getting resume is challenging enough in this new job market, but Emma brings three more challenges to the table!
First, she’s changing her career. After 30 years in one industry, she has no connections in the field she wants to move into. And, like many people in their 50s, Emma has never had to write a resume. She worked for one company for 20 years, and they originally hired her based on her reputation alone.
Second, she’s relocating to a place where she knows very few people. She has no networking contacts who could help her connect with local employers.
And third, at almost 60, she faces being eliminated from the running due to her age. Unfortunately, age discrimination still exists.
Here are 8 tips for creating a resume that gets attention, whether you’re changing your career after 50 or relocating to a different part of the country:
1. Increase your job search networking efforts. A resume alone will not get you a job. Emma is not only moving into a new field, but across the country as well. She needs to concentrate first on building her network in her new location, as well as in her new field of interest.
2. Have a strategy. Broadcasting your resume to every company in your area and then waiting for a call isn’t going to get you far. Emma believed strongly that this would be her best approach. But this is not a strategy! You need to selectively target the companies you would like to work for. Then get out and find ways to meet people working in those companies.
3. Minimize your reliance on internet job postings and ads. It’s tempting to want to sit at your computer and submit resumes to job boards. Emma tried this and was shocked when she received no responses. It’s kind of like playing the lottery – the odds are not in your favor. The majority of jobs aren’t advertised. Networking is still the most effective way for finding a job.
4. Focus and target your efforts. Employers are swamped with resumes. You want to stand out by targeting your resume and cover letter to the specific needs of each potential employer. Yes, this will involve research and some legwork. Once you know what an employer wants, show in detail how your skills can meet those needs. Set yourself apart.
5. Emphasize quantifiable achievements, not a listing of your job duties. Emma thought that employers would value her years of experience, even though unrelated to the job she wanted. When you’re writing a resume after 50 and changing your career, it’s especially important to highlight your accomplishments and skills in ways that are both measurable and transferable to the requirements of the job you’re seeking.
6. Get up to date with technology. If needed, take a course or two to update your computer skills. Employers want to see that you’re able to use the internet. While you’re at it, make sure your email address sounds professional. And learn the difference between sending a plain text resume by email and submitting one in an online form. If not done right, the employer may not even look at it.
7. Downplay your age. By listing all of your past experience on your resume, you emphasize your age to potential employers. The latest wisdom recommends showing only the last 10 to 15 years of work, or 15 to 20 years if the work is highly relevant. Work prior to that can be summarized without dates.
8. Stay positive! Remember that your experience and strong work ethic are valuable. Believe in yourself and in what you have to offer. But at the same time, be flexible and open to learning new things. Realize that it will take a while to start over.
If you’d like more specific tips and examples for how to write a winning resume after 50, check out the new Resume Kit put out by AARP and mentioned on the Job-Hunt.org website. While you’re at it, take a look at AARP’s Job Tips for 50+ Workers.
Writing a resume for a new chapter in your life? How are you getting your ducks in a row?