There are many advantages to being an older job seeker, and your resume format should emphasize those positive qualities. Follow these tips to achieve the best resume format for your position. With any luck, your years of experience and wisdom will shine in an interview.
Is the Functional or Chronological Resume Format Best for an Older Job Seeker?
In most cases, it is best to choose a chronological resume format. Employers prefer it because it gives them the chance to see your career development at a glance. It is therefore the best resume format for older, more experienced applicants. A chronological resume highlights your years of industry expertise, which gives you an advantage over younger, less experienced applicants. Use a chronological resume to illustrate growth over time, especially if you have advanced steadily within your field. Focus on your achievements in each position, and employers will see what you can bring to the job.
There is an exception, however. If you are applying to a position in a less conservative field and have a large gap in your employment history, you may be better off with a functional resume. This would be applicable for anyone who left the workforce for a long time. In these cases, the best resume format will focus on your skill sets rather than on a chronological list of past work experience.
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Key Sections to Include in a Resume for an Older Job Seeker
First, you don't need an objective section, contrary to what you were taught in school. Instead, start with your contact information, including your full name, address, phone number and email address. You also still need an education section, where you list schools attended, degrees conferred and any certifications you've earned. Employers are looking to make sure you have the education necessary for the position, even if your experience is a stronger selling point. Then, assuming you are using a chronological format, list your previous positions under the header, "Experience." Work backwards, listing jobs in reverse chronological order. For each position, state your accomplishments and responsibilities, using specifics and action verbs like "managed," "organized" and "supervised." Use bullet points to make your resume easier to read.
If, on the other hand, you decide to write a functional resume, use the header, "Skills." Give concrete examples of how your skills were put to use in the past whether in paid employment or in volunteer roles. Always keep in mind the needs of the employer, and brainstorm how you can demonstrate your unique abilities.
Tips for the best resume format for an Older Job Seeker
It is tempting to include every previous job, especially in a chronological resume, but don't overdo it. You don't want a resume that's more than two pages, and you don't want to bury your relevant experience in a sea of extraneous information. Instead, only include your most recent and most important positions. The best resume format will not only demonstrate a long career history but also emphasize your unique abilities. This is especially true when your field may have changed or if previous certifications have become obsolete. Ask yourself, "Is this going to be helpful in my new position?" If not, leave it out, no matter how important it seemed years ago.
Although the market has changed, there are great jobs out there for older job seekers. When you're unsure of the best resume format, LiveCareer's tips and tricks can help you.