By Jennifer Post, Contributing Writer
Writing a resume can be difficult for everyone, but for those 50 years of age or older, it can be even more difficult. Maybe they've been out of the workforce for some time, or they haven't been able to keep up with the latest processes and technologies. The good news is that AARP and TopResume have partnered to help those in that age group.
"Resume writing is crucial as more and more older workers stay in the workforce, often looking for new jobs, or even new careers," said Susan Weinstock, AARP vice president for financial resilience programs, in a press release about the collaboration. AARP now offers a resume advice and professional writing service to help baby boomers feel more comfortable applying and interviewing for new jobs.
Follow these tips when updating your resume
There are also things you can do on your own to boost your chances of landing a new job. Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, offered 13 tips to help older job seekers with their resume:
1. Focus on your recent experience. The further along you are in your career, the less relevant your earlier experience becomes. The last 10 to 15 years is really what matters, so focus on detailing those years of experience that are related to your job search. If you really want to add older work experience, add it to a section of your resume called "Career Note."
2. Eliminate older dates. Not every position you've held needs to have the start and end dates listed on your resume. Remove the dates related to work experience, education and certifications if they don't fall within that 10-to-15-year window.
3. Limit your resume to two pages. Recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume and application that comes across their desk before deciding if the candidate deserves further consideration. If you want your resume to be noticed by hiring managers, keep it short so they get the gist of your work history within that 10-second timeframe.
4. Avoid a "jack-of-all-trades" approach. Although you might have held multiple roles throughout your career, your resume should be tailored to support your current career objective rather than providing a general summary of your entire work history.
5. Optimize your resume with keywords. Improve the chances of your resume making it past the applicant tracking system and on to a human by adding keywords within your resume from the job description.
6. Upgrade your email address. Don't give employers a reason to believe you aren't tech savvy. Ditch your AOL or Hotmail email account for a free, professional-looking Gmail address that incorporates your name.
7. List your mobile phone number. Only list your cell phone number on your resume so that you answer the phone yourself in addition to controlling the voicemail message potential employers and recruiters hear.
8. Join the LinkedIn bandwagon. If you've avoided using LinkedIn in the past, now's the time to create a profile that promotes your candidacy to employers. Once your profile is complete, customize your LinkedIn profile URL and add it to the top of your resume.
9. Showcase your technical proficiencies. Show employers that you've kept up with the latest tools and platforms related to your field by creating a small section toward the bottom of your resume that lists your technical proficiencies.
10. Customize your online application. Small tweaks to your resume can make a big difference in determining whether your online application reached a human being for review. After reviewing the job listing more closely, make small edits to customize your resume so that it clearly reflects your qualifications.
11. Ditch the objective statement. Avoid using a run-of-the-mill objective statement that's full of fluff and focuses solely on your own wants and needs. Instead, replace it with your elevator pitch, which should be a brief paragraph summarizing your job goals and qualifications.
12. Aim for visual balance. How your resume is formatted is just as important as the information itself. Focus on leveraging a combination of short blurbs and bullet points to make it easy for the reader to quickly scan your resume and find the most important details that support your candidacy.
13. Focus on achievements, not tasks. At this point in your career, recruiters are less concerned with the tasks you've completed and more interested in learning what you've accomplished. Use bullet points to describe the results you've achieved and the major contributions you've made that benefited your employers.
"It may be unfair, but age discrimination is a real thing in today's workforce and job search," said Augustine. "Some employers are concerned that candidates of a certain age aren't looking for a long-term gig because they're close to retirement."
People might not want to admit it, but there is a fear among businesses that they won't get what they need from older applicants. Augustine added that one of those fears is that older workers aren't tech savvy, or they are resistant to change, which might make them difficult to train and, ultimately, harder to work with.
"It's important for 50-plus candidates to dispel these concerns on their resume and cover letter as well as during the interview process," said Augustine.
Keep your skills sharp and relevant
One of the biggest fears of applicants age 50 and older (and employers) is that the skills those workers will come in with aren't as up to date or necessary to get the job done. There are ways, though, to keep your skills sharp and develop new ones.
"Many free or low-cost online courses are available through sites such as edX, Coursera and Skillshare," said Augustine. "If you prefer in-person training, seek out programs through your local library or college."
Augustine also suggested, for those interested in improving technical skills, turning to AARP. AARP now offers free technology training in various markets around the country. It's a good way to brush up on existing skills and learn completely new ones.
Updating your resume isn't enjoyable, no matter what age you are. But it does get harder the older you get, an unfortunate reality of our society. Thanks to TopResume and AARP, steps are being taken to make the process less daunting and more successful.
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and Business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ or binge watching Pretty Little Liars for the 700th time.