Writing the perfect resume is challenging. The task can be even more of a daunting for workers who are over 40 and searching for a job. There are subtle things you can do to increase your chances of getting an interview and landing a job.
Mark Frietch, an author, speaker, and social media expert, recommends using industry buzzwords on your resume, especially if you’re looking to transition into a different industry. “They offer better search results when recruiters are looking," he notes.
We asked other resume experts, HR professionals, and career coaches from across the country for their tips for older workers, and they offered some great, practical advice.
Focusing Your Resume
Career coach Dorthy Tannahill-Moran says it’s better to focus your search on one or two position types, rather than filling your resume with a comprehensive rundown of your vast experience. Instead of attracting hiring managers and recruiters, Tannahill-Moran says, too much information can actually be overwhelming. “Include only those items directly related to the one or two position types you are pursuing,” she advises. “It makes you more competitive when you focus."
Leaving Graduation Dates Off Your Resume
Anthony Quinones, a midlife transition coach, says you should avoid listing graduation dates on your resume and only include up to 15 years of past employment. "Employers can assume they know your approximate date of birth from your graduation date,” he points out. “If they believe you're over 40, many won't even consider you for an interview."
Highlighting Key Skills
Ronald Kaufman, a seminar leader, executive coach, and author, says it’s best to spell out your specific accomplishments. You should write down all the key skills and traits you have that qualify for the job you want, as he puts it, and then write out specific incidences and examples that prove you have these skills and traits.
“Use percentages, dollar amounts, and quantities wherever possible, as they're tangible and persuasive,” he stresses. “Also, practice out loud telling your stories so that you can communicate them effectively. The brain thinks in terms of pictures, therefore paint positive pictures that create positive images in the mind of the interviewer."
Rick Dacri, president of an HR consulting firm, agrees. "Stop focusing on the tasks you've performed in your job and stress what you've accomplished,” he says. “Employers hire and pay for results."
Laurie DeSalvo, a certified professional resume writer, believes that older workers should take a streamlined approach to highlight their experience. "These candidates should show their breadth of experience by placing key accomplishments in a highlights section on the first page of their resume, and by using them as focus points in phone and in-person interviews."
Incorporating QR Codes and Staying Current
Bruce Hurwitz, an executive recruiter, career counselor, and advisor at the multimedia resume portal Purzue.com, says older workers should place a QR code—a scannable barcode that can be linked directly to a website—on their resume.
This is especially effective, he says, if the position they are applying for has nothing to do with computer support (IT). “It will send the message to the employer that they are current and comfortable with technology," he points out.
Kelly Donovan a certified professional resume writer, offers a similar sentiment. "On your resume,” she says, “emphasize your experience with current trends in your industry to show that your knowledge and skills are up to date."
Targeting Employers Friendly to Mature Workers
Remi Killeen-Weber, an HR project manager, recommends that older workers seek out companies that see their life experience as an asset rather than a detriment. "Many companies consider a more mature workforce to be a competitive advantage,” she observes. “Employees over the age of 40 bring more experience, more professionalism, and more maturity to any position than their younger counterparts."