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How to Write a Resume if You are Over 50

October 17, 2009

Three Resume Rules for Baby Boomers

The most common concern among job seekers over 50 is that their resume tends to date them. While it’s true that with age comes wisdom, it’s also true that securing a great new job becomes challenging after a certain age. If you are a member of the baby boomer generation you’ll want to take note of the following three resume rules.

  1. Don’t make it a history lesson.

    One sure way to date yourself is to take your resume all the way back to your first job out of college. That type of ancient history only serves to give a time line to your age. Worse yet, it may show a zig-zag career path that leaves the reader wondering how you arrived at your current career destination.

    When deciding how far back in your career history to go, think in terms of relevancy rather than years. As a general rule, go back only as far as it relates to your current career objective. There are a few exceptions to the rule. First, if your current career path is five years or less you’ll need to show a few years prior. Otherwise the reader will wonder where you came from and how you got there. The second exception is if you are returning to a previous career path and wish to show the experience. In that case you’ll want to use the hybrid resume format to allow your most relevant accomplishments up at the top of your resume.

  2. Get rid of ancient technology.

    Another way your resume says “old codger” is by your choice of technology information. Selling your skills with outdated technology is as ineffective as an ad for buggy whips. It tells the reader that you are living in the past rather than solving today’s problems with today’s technology.

    One way to weed out your resume of old technology is to test your resume against current job postings. Compare the needed technology skills with what your resume lists. Delete what is no longer current. If you find gaps look around for ways to bring your skills up to date. Professional associations often provide certifications and special training to help bring you up to date.

  3. Make the present as alluring as the past.

    The worst resume error for post-fifty job seekers is when their chronological resume shows all the best accomplishments in earlier employment entries. Nothing says “has been” like accomplishments that don’t show up until page two or three. If your resume has no accomplishments illustrated for the most current five years the reader has no choice but to conclude you are an “over the hill” worker with no ambition left. No employer wants to hire dead wood.

    Given the downward trend of business over the past several years, lack of resume accomplishments is a common problem. None the less, make all effort to include accomplishments in your most recent years even if you feel that your best years were pre-2001. Think in terms of problems you’ve solved, costs you’ve cut, man-hours you’ve saved and clients you’ve kept.

Another way to get accomplishments on page one is with a hybrid resume format that allows you to create a highlight of accomplishments section at the top of page one.

Age discrimination may be against the law, but we all know that it takes place. Don’t let your resume stop you from getting your chance to interview for your next job. Make sure your resume draws attention to your skills, abilities and accomplishment rather than your age. Let your success stories show how you can solve today’s critical business problems.

About the Author: Deborah Walker, CCMC is a career coach helping job seekers nationwide. Her clients gain skills in resume writing, interviewing and salary negotiation. See her sample resumes and read more job search tips at: http://www.AlphaAdvantage.com

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