|By: Andrea Coombes|
|Marrin Yate CPC
Professional Resume Writing Services
7 tips for the perfect boomer résumé
MarketWatch.comThe Wall Street Journal
Have you kept up? Do you get it? Here’s how:
For job seekers these days, crafting the perfect résumé may matter less than making key connections with the right people and ensuring a stellar online presence. But you still need your résumé to shine.
It’s a key marketing tool—your opportunity to present yourself in the best light before an in-person interview. But the older you are, the tougher it can be to create a résumé that details years of experience without bogging down in details.
For boomer job seekers, the key is to keep it simple, relevant and timely.
“Your résumé is not going to get you the job,” said Kerry Hannon, a Washington-based career expert and author of “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+.” “It’s the interview that gets you the job. Use [the résumé] as your calling card.”
Here are seven résumé tips for mature workers:
1. Keep it timely
Stick to the most recent 10 to 15 years of experience, says Amanda Augustine, a job-search expert with career website TheLadders.com.
If you’ve got relevant experience from 20 or 30 years ago, consider adding a note to that effect at the end of your résumé’s “experience” section, Augustine said.
She offered an example: “Career Note: Additional experience includes roles in brand management with Coca-Cola Company and Nestlé SA. Details available upon request.”
For your recent jobs, you’ll need to provide dates, said Andrea Kay, career consultant and author of a forthcoming book, “This Is How to Get Your Next Job: An Inside Look at What Employers Really Want.”
But for decades-old experience, leave off the dates—and only include those old jobs if they’re relevant to the work you’re currently seeking.
“Sometimes I will crunch together a lot of experience that may be old but is still relevant, and use a subhead like ‘Other Experience Includes’ or ‘Experience Also Includes,’” Kay said.
“I don’t put dates with that, but it shows you have that experience,” she said. “You put it on there because it’s relevant to what you’re trying to achieve now.”
It’s OK to leave off college-graduation dates, Kay said.
2. Keep it focused
Often, mature workers want to include everything they’ve ever done. Don’t. Your résumé is not a life history.
Focus on the position you’re seeking, advises Martin Yate, author of a number of career-management books and the site KnockEmDead.com, which offers professional résumé services for a fee.
Yate advocates a technique he calls “target job deconstruction.” Gather six or so job postings and find one job requirement that’s common to all of them, then look for a skill required for at least five of them, then four, etc.
Then, make sure the experience and skills you cite in your résumé match those skills employers say they’re seeking, Yate said.
Also, limit your résumé to two pages, Augustine said. “A recruiter is spending an average of six seconds reviewing a résumé—anything longer than three pages will not get read. Professional résumé writers rarely create a résumé that’s more than two pages.”
3. Tell a story
Your résumé should tell employers a narrative about how you’ve been successful in previous jobs. That means being specific, such as how you increased revenues or stayed under budget by a certain percentage.
“You want to say you grew sales by 30% or you brought a job in three months ahead of time,” Hannon said. “The problem you solved is what people want to see, because they want you to solve their problem.”
Augustine agreed. “While your extensive experience is an attribute, your accomplishments are even more impressive to an employer,” she said, in an email.
“Save the bullet points in your work experience to highlight relevant accomplishments, quantified whenever possible,” she said. “In your professional summary, emphasize your ability to get results and beat goals, rather than how long you’ve worked in an industry.”
Kay offered an example, related to a client—a lobbyist.
“She’s really good at securing money for her clients. I wrote a sentence that said: ‘Secured $100,000 for a nonprofit organization to expand their capital investment project,’” Kay said.
“That’s a specific illustration of how she has been an effective lobbyist, which is what she said in her opening profile,” she said.
Construct your résumé as an inverted pyramid, Kay said. The profile or summary description at the résumé’s top grabs the employer’s attention. Everything below supports that description.
4. Make sure contact information looks up-to-date
At the résumé’s top, include your email address, but avoid a Comcast or AOL address, Augustine said. “That dates you,” she said, adding that a Gmail address is better.
Also, include a URL for your LinkedIn profile, she said. “This will help steer the recruiter toward the right online profile.” (Stay tuned for the next Working Retirement column, on how to create a top-flight LinkedIn profile.)
Hannon agreed. “Having a profile on LinkedIn is critical in any job search,” she said. “Make sure you have an online footprint. Most hiring managers are looking at social media to find out a bit more about you.”
5. Tailor the format to the situation
It’s not essential to create a different, targeted résumé for each position—if you’re applying for similar jobs, the same résumé should work.
But if you’re sending your résumé to an online database—highly likely if you’re applying to a large company—take steps to ensure it passes muster with the automated screening system.
That means including common words and key phrases that “regularly appear in the majority of the job descriptions you’re interested in applying to, assuming you have those skills,” Augustine said. “This will help you make it past the initial screenings.”
Still, try to balance the use of keywords with easy-to-read English that tells a story about you. Too often, Kay said, job seekers use “really cliché language that they got from somebody else’s résumé. They use buzzwords that are meaningless.”
Also, Augustine said, don’t embed tables or images that may confuse the screening system.
Sending your résumé as a PDF may make sense, Hannon said. It may be easier to read on a smartphone, so might be smart when applying to, say, a tech startup. But the automated tracking systems that many large companies use may not read a PDF, so consider sending a Word document.
Job seekers looking for work in a creative industry might consider a video résumé, Hannon said. “If you’re in art directing, say, or sales, too, your personality can show through.”
6. Stick to a simple format
Use a traditional font, such as Times New Roman, 9- to 12-point size, and use black type on white paper, Hannon said.
“You want to avoid any sort of fancy layout or font or special effects,” she said. “You might do a different size for your name or the companies you worked for, but be consistent and not too much boldface, not too much italics,” she said.
Still, some suggest a different font. “Times New Roman is fine, but I recommend against it since it’s so common. Your application will look like everyone else’s,” Augustine said.
She suggested Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Tahoma, Book Antiqua or Franklin Gothic as fonts that are “highly readable” and won’t confuse employers’ automated résumé tracking systems.
7. Adjust your attitude
Are you freaking out about your résumé? Maybe it’s time to step back. Reaffirm the skills, value and experience you will bring to a position.
“People worry about this stuff so much that they make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be,” Kay said. “You have to first believe that, ‘I am not old and outdated.”
Remind yourself, she said, that “Indeed I do have something to offer, and I’m going to state where this happened, when it happened and how I made a difference when I was there.
“That’s what matters most,” Kay said. “How am I going to make a difference? How am I going to help this employer be more efficient, effective, productive, by what I have to offer? That should be your guiding light.”
If you’re writing that story, she said, then your language will make employers say, “Wow, I don’t care that this person is 55. They have kept up with the times. They have value. They get it.”
Andrea Coombes is a personal-finance writer and editor in San Francisco. She’s on Twitter @andreacoombes.
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