A polished resume is the first step to securing a new job. For those who are over 55, changing careers or finding a new job after a layoff can be quite a daunting task. Searching for jobs has changed over the years. A little extra effort can make your resume stand out in a sea of job applicants.
The basics of writing a good resume have not changed much. You still need to include your name and contact information at the top. Also important is a clear description of your work history, education, awards and publications. Highlight your strongest skills and accomplishments.
The Internet has brought a new dynamic to searching for a job. Likewise, a resume needs to be tailored to fit the new technologies. Having access to a computer is beneficial. Saving different versions of your resume will help apply for jobs in multiple fields. For example, a geography teacher who also writes travel articles may have two resumes: one focused on her skills as a teacher, and the other on her writing. A human doesn't always see all the resumes forwarded to companies. Employer search engines often use software that scans for key words to forward on the best matches. Make sure you read the job description carefully. Use specific terms on your resume when applicable in to make your resume more searchable by the software.
What to Include
Someone over age 55 will often have a lot of experience to offer. Make sure to highlight the most recent experience; the past 10 to 15 years is usually best, according to Katharine Hansen, PhD, on Quintessential Careers. Highlight up-to-date skills. If you are current on certain software, techniques, research or educational requirements, make sure to make that clear. It shows you are staying current. If you haven't worked in a while but have volunteered, make sure to include that on the resume. It will show you have been active in your community. Include good references. If you have good long-term working relationships, ask those individuals if you can use them as references.
Help yourself avoid age discrimination. Consider leaving dates off the resume, but do so with caution. Some employers may wonder if there is something to hide. Never lie about a date, or anything else on a resume. Emphasize achievements rather than time spent at a company. If you have skills that are largely outdated, consider leaving them off or using them only for select jobs that still utilize those skills. Talk to a younger trusted professional friend or family member. Have them look over your resume to see if there's anything that stands out to them.
Proofreading the Resume
Before you send your resume off to a prospective employer, proofread your resume. Check for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Check for consistency with your layout. Make sure your best work and abilities are highlighted. Have at least one or two other trusted individuals look at your resume.