Cover Letter and Resume Tips for Would-Be Retirees

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You’ve worked for thirty years, and now you’ve packed up your desk, enjoyed your last slice of goodbye-party cake, and headed out the office doors for the last time. But the universe is a funny place. And instead of relaxing on the beach for the duration of your golden years, you’re now finding yourself staying up late to edit and polish your resume for a new position as…something completely new to you. Who knew?

Maybe after the first few years, the beach just wasn’t doing it for you anymore. Or maybe, like many workers in our modern economy, you just don’t have the financial flexibility you need in order to take the next three decades off. For any number of reasons, the workforce is calling you back. And the job you’re looking for (pre-school teacher, admin, retail clerk, customer service pro) represents a radical departure from whatever you used to do.

Here are a few resume tips that can help you reach your next destination on a somewhat-longer-than-expected career path.

1. Dial back. Yes, you were an attorney for four decades. And yes, during that time, your case record was excellent, you earned new business for the firm, and you got an advanced degree. But your new potential employers—employers that have nothing to do with law—don’t really need to know the finer details, especially if your work history goes on for multiple pages. Just explaining the bare minimum of what you were and what you did each day should suffice. 

2. Emphasize relevant skill sets, not impressive ones. Pre-school teachers aren’t interested in the finer points of tax law. They want to know about your understanding of psychology, child development, nutrition, brain theory, and how to change a pair of socks on a wiggly toddler. If you took even one course in any of these subjects five years ago, this will interest them more than your tax background.

3. Emphasize your open-mindedness and willingness to learn new things. Employers often have concerns about older applicants that are rooted in these two issues. Fair or not, older workers are often perceived as rigid thinkers who are bound to their ways. Make it clear that this doesn’t apply to you.

4. Emphasize your role as a team player. Unfortunately, older candidates are also sometimes perceived as difficult to manage. Senior workers are sometimes accustomed to giving orders, not taking them, and this can signal problems with your productivity and successful adaptation to a new workplace. If you have strong credentials as a flexible support person, make this clear.

5. If your target position is heavily technology-based, be very upfront about your tech skills. Speak the language. Feel free to incorporate relevant jargon and buzzwords into your resume and cover letter. While younger candidates are wise to avoid this move, you can go ahead and do the opposite.

A Great Resume Can Set You Apart…At Any Level

Above all, present your potential employers with a resume and cover letter that are formatted according to modern business standards. For guidelines and templates that can help with both, visit LiveCareer and use the site’s easy-to-use Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder. 

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