Searching for a job when you’re over 50 is never easy and can be stressful. But having the right resume can help. Discover how to write a resume that gets results when you’re an older professional — as well as some resume tips for what not to do.
The fact is not every resume is created equal.
But the stakes are high for your resume. It may be your only chance to make a good first impression. Your resume has the potential to get you in the door for an interview. Or, if done poorly, it could land you in the reject pile.
So how can you make sure your resume shines in front of potential employers?
Let’s consider 12 recommendations on how to write a resume that gets real results for older professionals who are looking to boost their career.
How to Write a Resume That Gets the Best Results
1. Don’t Go Back More Than 10-15 Years
You’ve built a lot of experience during your career. While that’s great, you don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had. Keep your resume succinct and go back only 10 to 15 years.
After all, the further back you go, the less relevant your experience will be for employers now.
Instead of being stuck in the past, expound on the details of your recent job experience.
2. Include a Link to Your LinkedIn Profile
Today’s job candidates leverage social media in their candidacy — especially LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a powerful addition to your resume. Here you can present an in-depth summary of your work history, publish articles, and upload relevant images and video. Rounding out your profile can be endorsements from people who know your work. Better yet, this is all in one place for employers to see.
You might also consider including other relevant links, such as additional social media links or URLs for your website or blog.
3. Optimize Your Resume with Keywords
Most recruiters today use artificial intelligence and hiring bots to scan through resumes to weed out unqualified candidates. But if you don’t know how the system works, your highly-qualified resume could be shunted aside before any human eyes get to see it.
How is this done? Tools scan through resumes and look for specific keywords. If your lacks certain keywords it never gets in front of a hiring manager.
How do you know what keywords to include? One important way is to pay attention to a company’s job post. If it includes specific words several times, chances are those are the important keywords.
Another way is to do an internet search to discover what keywords employers in your industry use in vetting candidates. For example, if you enter a search query like “resume keywords marketing” in Google, you’ll see several lists of popular resume keywords for the marketing industry. You can then narrow it down by reflecting on your specific role or comparing these words to the job listing itself.
4. Draw Attention to Your Promotions
Promotions are a big deal to employers. They show that you were not stagnant at a company — that you grew into new and trusted roles during your tenure.
How do you show your promotions on a resume? Use one heading for the company where you worked, and under that, nest each role you had along with the responsibilities for that role.
Here’s how that would look:
Vice President of Sales
Manager of Sales Team
You get the idea.
5. Feature Your Achievements
Every resume has a list of skills. But a key way to set yourself apart is to show those skills in action by highlighting your achievements.
Use this simple equation: problem + solution = results.
For example, instead of writing “I worked with xyz CRM,” you might say….
To address a downward trend in sales, I implemented a new CRM solution generating 30% more sales.
6. Use Numbers and Details
This can make a difference in your resume helping it stand out. Exact numbers and details add power to your skills and bring them to life.
For example, someone might simply put down
Wrote email marketing copy
But doesn’t this carry more punch?
Increased email opens by 22% and click throughs 50%.
See the difference? It not only shows the work you performed, but also the impact that you had.
7. Include a Summary
Your resume’s most valuable real estate is its top third. This is where employers will focus. Include here a killer summary, explaining your objectives and value.
Instead of focusing on what you want, use this section to focus on what your prospective employer wants.
For example, instead of…
Seasoned marketing professional seeking a position within a financial services firm.
you could do something like…
Seasoned marketing professional with over 15 years of experience who wishes to increase sales leads for XYZ Firm by 20%.
Do you see how the second example highlights what you can do for the employer, and not the other way around? It’s an important detail that helps to distinguish you.
8. Show Career Progress
Your career progression is like a story, so tell it well. You didn’t just show up one day as the CFO of XYZ Enterprises — you earned it through hard work. And your resume should reflect that.
Perhaps you started as an intern, then progressed to associate, then managing director, before finally reaching your role as head of the department. Each title sets the stage for the next and tells its own compelling story, if you properly frame it.
9. Trim Unnecessary Fat
Your resume is not the place to wax poetic about your career. Hiring managers in particular want resumes to get to the point. Review it multiple times to cut out the unnecessary fluff and focus on the important points.
What does this mean? Here are a few pointers to clean up your resume:
10. Go to Two Pages If You Need It
We’ve all heard this advice advice when learning how to write a resume: “Keep your resume to one page.” And that works for new professionals. But when you’ve had 15 or 20 years in an industry, it’s only natural for your resume to take up more space.
And recruiters and employers even expect experienced candidates to have resumes that span two pages.
But don’t go beyond two pages. After all, recruiters and employers spend only a brief amount of time looking at your resume before deciding to take it to the next step. Make each second count by consolidating your information.
11. Mention Your Tech Savviness
As I’ve talked about before, ageism is a real problem that affects many job candidates over the age of 50. One false idea that fuels this prejudice is the idea that older people don’t keep up with technology.
Use your resume to strategically combat this idea. Highlight the technologies and technical skills that you have used in your career — from Microsoft Office to AI tools, if applicable.
And, if you realize that there are tech skills you don’t yet have, learn them. There are online sites, such as Coursera, with courses you can take. Then you can add those skills to your resume with confidence.
12. Don’t Call Attention to Your Age
While employers are not supposed to discriminate based on age, we all know it happens. So don’t give them a chance.
Avoid using dates that announce your age, such as when you attended college or received a certain certification. Instead, leave the dates out of your resume. True, they may ask you questions about your age or graduation year, but there’s no need to volunteer that information.
I hope these resume tips have helped you not only to learn how to write a resume, but also how to write a powerful resume that will boost your career, no matter your age. Have any other tips? Please share in the comments.
Wendy Marx is President of Thrivingat50+. As a personal branding and reinvention coach, she is sought after for her ability to help people get unstuck in their careers and become brands of distinction. Here articles have appeared in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes, New York Times, Advertising Age and other… View full profile ›