In 2018, many older Americans are facing a multi-factor financial squeeze that’s pushing them to take a fresh look at the job market. Due to a weakened pension system, reduced savings, or even surprise medical expenses, older workers are retiring from retirement, and their resumes are flooding into employer databases.
The good news is the strong economy means there are plenty of jobs for older workers. So, if you’re over the age of 55 and are returning to work (or looking for a new job), you’ll need the tricks of writing a resume for older workers.
Follow these resume guidelines to write a modern, powerful resume that'll get you back in the game:
Start Here: Resume Basics for Older Workers
Regardless or your industry, target job, or circumstances, your resume will need to include these five subheadings:
- Your name and contact information. This should include your email address and a cell phone number you answer regularly.
- A professional summary that explains what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.
- A summary of your education credentials.
- A list of your most relevant previous jobs, including your job title, employer, and the highlights of each tenure.
- A list of your “special skills” or most relevant competencies and any certifications you’ve earned.
- An optional section that can include your volunteer work, personal projects, open source contributions, garden club awards, or any other accomplishment that falls outside of traditional “work.”
General Best Practices: Resumes for Older Workers
Regardless of your age, job, or industry, keep these universal resume must-dos in mind:
- No typos. Have a friend or family member look your resume as many times as necessary in order to ensure a typo-free result. One typo can send your resume into the “circular file.”.
- No photos. Don’t attach photos or share personal information about your family status, health, religion, race, ethnicity or anything else that shouldn’t matter to your employers. (This includes your birthday!)
- Keep your resume short and sweet. Your resume should generally be less than two pages long. This can be tricky in resumes for older workers, who may want to showcase a longer career.
7 Tips For Best-In-Class Resumes for Older Workers
If you haven’t been in the workforce for awhile, you might have forgotten these tried and true tips for creating a best-in-class resume:
Resume Tip #1: Stack Your Resume with Job-related Keywords
While the core purpose of a resume hasn’t changed in decades, the way employers sort through resumes has (see Resume Tip #7 for more details). Today’s modern resumes are beautifully formatted (check out a few modern resume designs for design ideas) well-drafted, and include keywords. Keywords are specific words and phrases prospective employers might type into a search bar. When your resume includes these keywords, it is more likely to get past the applicant tracking systems (ATS) many employers now use. Good keywords include the title of the job and the core requirements listed in the job posting. Make sure both appear prominently in your resume text. (Read more here about how to write a winning resume.)
Resume Tip #2: Don’t Apologize for your Age (But, Don’t Point to It Either)
Your age is an asset, and smart employers recognize this. But here’s the problem: not all employers are smart. There’s no need to apologize or compensate for your age in the text of your resume or cover letter. For example, don’t write, “It may appear from my long work history that I’m a dinosaur, but I assure you I’m not!” And, while you’ll want to fill out the education section, consider leaving out your high school and college graduation dates.
Resume Tip #3: Emphasize the Strengths that Come with Seniority
As an older worker, you may have taken responsibility for high-stakes projects and faced crises and challenges your entry-level coworkers can’t yet imagine. Highlight these experiences and use them to your advantage.
Your age is an asset, and smart employers recognize this. But here’s the problem: not all employers are smart. There’s no need to apologize or compensate for your age in the text of your resume or cover letter.
Resume Tip #4: Show - Don’t Tell - That You’re Tech-Savvy
Of course if the position you’re applying for requires Pardot proficiency or Microsoft SQL certification, and you have this qualification, make sure you include it on your resume. But when it comes to standard expectations of software familiarity (such as general comfort with Word), your resume should speak for you. a sleek, professionally-designed digital layout will reassure employers you’ve got at least basic technology skills. For help, check out our resume templates.
Resume Tip #5: Leadership Means Success in Some Jobs, But Not All
There’s value to past leadership experience, but make sure the job you’re applying for is looking for those skills. A winning resume will be tailored to the job that’s posted. If a lower-level job is being offered, packing your resume with highlights of your many years of management experience might not get you to the next step. Review the job post carefully and bear in mind that overqualification can scare away some timid employers who might imagine that your years of experience carry a high price tag.
Resume Tip #6: Share Your Willingness to Learn New Things
In both the summary of your resume and the text of your cover letter, let your readers know that you’re open minded, engaged, and ready to listen and learn. This is a wise move for any job applicant at any age, but it’s especially helpful for those who may— by virtue of their age alone—come off as fully informed or set in their ways.
Resume Tip #7: Delivery Systems Have Changed
One thing that may be new since the last time you applied for a job is the way your resume will find it ways into the hands of the hiring manager. Instead of sending your resume by mail, you’ll submit it through an online application system or attach a PDF version to an email. If you’re applying to a larger employer, it’s likely that an applicant tracking system (ATS) will be used to sort through all of the resumes that get submitted for a particular position, in order to cut down on the time the hiring manager needs to spend. Writing a resume full of relevant keywords (see Resume Tip #1) will help get your resume through the ATS, and give you a better shot at having it ready by a human.
For help with your resume formatting, design, and editing process, use our state-of-the-art resume builder here.