How to write a resume as an older job seeker

How to write a resume as an older job seekerThis chronological resume is for Karen Coffey (not her real name), a 53-year-old job seeker who wants to continue her career in healthcare administration.

How old does she look to you, based on this resume?

The Details About This Resume Sample

At this point in her career, Karen is concerned about competing successfully against much younger job candidates, knowing that an employer would want someone who has lots of energy and state-of-the-art know-how in the ever-changing Healthcare sector.

Karen knew she just needed to get through the door for a job interview, at which time she would be able to demonstrate that she has what it takes to do the job as well as a person 20-30 years her junior.

To get that interview, her resume needed to sell her achievements and experience, yet minimize a focus on her age.

She conducted some research to get an estimate of the average age for professionals holding similar positions to the one she’s shooting for.

  • She used LinkedIn to get a sense of the demographics of the company she was applying to, and made sure she included a link to her own online profile on LinkedIn right on her resume.
  • She Googled each company and studied its website to learn about the corporate culture.
  • She asked for opinions within her professional network about what age was most prevalent in her line of work.
  • She factored in her own observations about the age of fellow colleagues she met at industry conferences, networking events, and online job boards.

Based on her research, Karen knew that a potential hiring manager would probably be younger than she is and would be looking for an administrator who is in their early 30s. With this age in mind, Karen was able to create a resume where the focus was on achievements/experience from the last 10 or so years of her career.

She also made sure to minimize the focus on her early career experience by not including any information other than jobs/names of employers. In addition, she removed the years from her education information.

The employer will deduce that if Karen graduated college when she was 22, then put in 10 years of work experience, she might now be in her mid-30’s a perfect candidate for the job she’s applying for!

The Bottom Line:

Notice that Karen didn’t lie on her resume. She simply gave the employer enough information to draw their own conclusion, without giving away her age.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker

Age might not always work to your advantage when searching for a job. Sometimes, hiring managers with age biases see older job seekers as having a tough time keeping up with younger job seekers when it comes to technology and new advancements. Employers might also see older employees as being more expensive to pay with respect to both salary and benefits. In addition, older job seekers can be seen as having outdated experience, especially when compared to younger workers, who often have more updated and relevant skills, certifications, or requirements. So what are older job seekers to do in order to keep up? When it comes to updating their resume, there are several things they need to keep in mind. And here, below, are the most important.

1. Exclude dates

Using dates can be a huge mistake. Don’t use dates for college, advanced-level degrees, high school, or any certifications, or professional development courses. You may want to consider removing high school altogether if you have a college degree.

2. Consider going non-chronological

Using a chronological resume is also a mistake for older job seekers because it establishes work history in chronological order, starting with the first job. One preferable format is a functional resume, which focuses on one’s skills and experience instead of work history in chronological order. Another preferable format for older job seekers is called the combination format. This one details skills and qualifications first. It also is a great way of answering any potential questions about career changes or gaps in work history because it establishes work history in reverse chronological order. This is usually my format of choice because as candidates progress through their mid-level into senior-level, it’s easy to display accomplishments while continuing to hide age.

3. Limit your related experience

If you’re writing a summary, don’t discuss how many years’ related experience you have. Just stating that you have 20 years’ experience or more can flag you as an older job seeker. I typically limit experience by two things: years and length of the resume. While I understand why most candidates want to list all their experience, for older job seekers it ends up being too much. It isn’t necessary to go back 20 years or more just to try to show that you’re qualified. Limit it to 15 years or under. If done well, this results in about a two-page resume, which is satisfactory.

4. Don’t be shy about your skills

Whatever resume format you choose, it’s a big mistake to be shy about your skills. Show potential employers that you know the latest technology or software. Also, remove any old or outdated technology.

5. Write a targeted resume

This is important for each position applied to. Failing to do so is not only a mistake in applying but it also focuses your resume on your relevant experience, accomplishments, and skillsets. Targeted resumes are adapted to each position through the summary and keywords in a job description.

6. Check your font

What font are you using? Some, such as Times New Roman, are a bit dated and are now used less frequently. You don’t want your resume to look outdated either.

7. Give LinkedIn some love, too

Another mistake is leaving your LinkedIn URL off your resume. Include it at the top along with your name, cell phone number, and email address. However, before adding it on be sure that it’s updated as well. A well updated LinkedIn profile includes your headline, summary, professional experience, recommendations, skills, volunteer experience, and other sections that are applicable. It’s also a good idea to personalize your LinkedIn URL for personal branding purposes.

8. Technology is everything

What version of Microsoft Word are you using to create your resume? If it’s dated, then it’s going to affect the layout and design of your file once it is converted. It’s also important to consider that most resumes are emailed or uploaded so the individual receiving or downloading the file could be looking at a distorted layout due to an outdated word processing technology. It’s best to keep your computer as up-to-date as possible to avoid this and potentially missing out on a job opportunity.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, which helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

Age may be a state of mind, but in many industries it could be the reason you’re not getting the call for an interview. Discrimination based on age is illegal, but sadly, it exists. In many cases, it is factored in even at the resume shortlisting phase. Sometimes, years of experience don’t exactly work in the favor of the applicant. So how do you prove your capability for the job? While it is difficult predict the outcome of an actual interview, here are a few tips to help you spruce up your resume, to at least land the initial interview call.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker

1. Keep your resume up-to-date: Highlight your current or last job details, and get rid of old and irrelevant job experience. If your resume is running more than two pages, get rid of any experience that’s more than 15-20 years old. Even if you do remember your projects from your first job, you may not be able to provide references that far back who still vividly remember what you had done. Pay attention to the job description. If it mentions that they are looking for someone with 25-30 years of experience, then go ahead and add it in.

Do You Know What You’re Worth?

2. Get rid of the year of graduation: While this is optional, if you graduated a long time ago, adding this information is not necessary. The graduation years are usually helpful for recent grads to justify their lack of experience and to let the recruiter know that they’re just starting up. By adding your year of graduation, you are also inviting your recruiter to guess your age. While it is illegal to discriminate against candidates based on age, it’s also hard to prove. If you take your birth year off, you won’t have to wonder. By the same logic, there is no need to add your date of birth information either.

3. Stay current: Job descriptions, roles, and titles have evolved over the years. The job you did a while ago may not be relevant now or the title has changed. Keep your information current and relevant to the job requirements.

4. Customize, customize, customize: This rule applies to all job applicants, age notwithstanding. Customize your resume by highlighting your skills and experience that are relevant to the job. Pay attention to keywords and use them in your resume.

5. Create a LinkedIn profile: Your recruiter is going to look you up on the internet, to know more about you. You don’t have to have an extensive social media presence, but at the very least, have a LinkedIn profile, so you pop up in her search results. Keep your profile updated and consistent with your resume.

6. Share relevant contact information: As Marc Miller, author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers explains on LinkedIn, your contact information should be relevant to this day and age. Home addresses and home telephone numbers are a thing of the past. He suggests creating email IDs that are more current or using email forwarding service from professional societies, alumni groups, or even a personal domain name.

7. Give your resume a facelift: Check out sample resume formats available online and choose the one that best fits your profile. Older resume versions are no longer in use and don’t really add value to your application. As Deborah Walker explains over at Quint Careers, things have changed, from the number of pages to use, to the extent of information to be shared.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have any suggestions or experiences to share? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

How to write a resume as an older job seekerJames Z. Carpenter (not his real name) has had a very successful career as a Public Relations and Marketing Professional.

When he wrote this resume, he faced three problems, described below, each of which he resolved in his resume.

The Details About This Resume Sample

James had 3 important issues to address so that employers would see him as up-to-date (vs. old) and not assume that he used his period of unemployment as a vacation.

Problem #1: No Online Presence.

It wasn’t until James started his job hunt that he realized he was way behind the times — he was nowhere to be found online, where recruiters and employers would likely search for him.

He had absolutely no presence online. Not good now!

“Better late than never,” he thought as he created his LinkedIn account, and hyperlinked the URL to his LinkedIn Profile in the heading of his resume.

Then, he hurried to build up his LinkedIn Profile, completing the work experience section job description and other sections in agreement with his resume. He focused on using the industry-specific keywords and content relevant for his target job and target employers, generating appropriate connections, joining Groups in his profession, gathering recommendations and endorsements for his skills, and making daily updates.

He wanted to be sure that when a recruiter or employer looks for him online (and through the LinkedIn URL he listed on his resume), he or she would be impressed with his LinkedIn Profile and activities.

Problem #2: Currently Unemployed

James was unexpectedly laid off from his last position. It wasn’t his fault, of course, but being unemployed could put him at a slight disadvantage because some employers view an unemployed job seeker as less desirable than an employed applicant. And the longer James is unemployed, the less attractive he may be to a potential employer.

James wrote and sent out his resume immediately after his layoff, when it was clear that his unemployment was very recent.

James doesn’t want to look like he is being inactive during his job search, so he is taking advantage of some free time by taking classes to enhance his technical expertise in today’s modern social media applications.

These classes also increase his competitiveness in the job market since many of these applications did not exist when he originally earned his degrees.

Another thing James did to take the focus off of his unemployment status was to add professional testimonials right on his resume. He specifically added one for his last place of employment so that it shows he did not leave on bad terms or his own doing.

Problem #3: Age Discrimination

If James listed all his public relations jobs on his resume he might risk age discrimination in his job search. To avoid this problem, here’s what he did:

  • Even though his career started more than 20 years ago, the earliest date on his resume is for a Marketing Representative position he held in 2006.
  • He showed he has had additional experience by putting a small blurb about early career experience at the end of his employment history.
  • Under Education, he lists his degrees, but not the years he received them.

With only 12 years of detailed experience showing on James’s resume, an employer will deduce that James is a middle-aged candidate (see my dates-on-resume formula for more details), which James thinks will appeal to his potential employer.

The Bottom Line:

Once in the job interview, James can make his pitch for the job as well as – if not better than – his younger counterpart.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker

Job seekers who are over 60 quite often have a difficult time. Employers tend to look at them as too old to be as useful as a younger employee. They don’t realize that this age group has a lot to offer any employer. Looking for a full time or part-time job at this age require a special type of resume.

  • Contact details. Most employers will initially want to contact you by email so make sure you have a professional email address set up. This should be an address with your name, not a silly nickname. Leave out anything that will indicate your age, such as a number which is also the year you were born. Use an email service such as Gmail. It has lots of options including folders you can use for different employees as well as a set up for an email signature. This should impress potential employees since it looks professional.
  • Stay recent. Employers don’t need to know what you were doing when you were 16. Include your most recent positions and go into detail on your responsibilities. Gear each resume and cover letter toward the position you are applying for. In which tasks at your last job were you especially proficient? How do they make you the most suitable candidate for this new position?
  • How to list your education. Most employers will want to know which schools you attended and which degrees you have. You can do this without listing the years you attended. Specify how each course or degree helped you in your last position and how it could help you in a new job.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker

Don’t feel that just because you are a ‘tad’ older than other job seekers that you don’t deserve the position you are applying for. Concentrate on the knowledge you can bring that a younger person wouldn’t have. To read more on resume tips for job seekers over 60, click here.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker

By Matt Krumrie , Special to the Star Tribune
February 23, 2016 – 2:25 PM

This may come as a surprise to experienced job seekers, but “the purpose of a résumé is not to get a job,” according to Debra Magnuson of CPI Twin Cities.

Magnuson, who is vice president of talent management for the executive coaching and career development firm, emphasized that message to members of SHiFT (, a Twin Cities organization that guides and connects mid-lifers seeking greater purpose and passion in life and work.

“The purpose of the résumé is to create confidence in your credentials,” said Magnuson, “as well as interest and curiosity that gets you an interview.”

Irene Connors, who specializes in reviewing résumés as a workforce development representative at the Minnesota WorkForce Center-Hennepin South in Bloomington, agrees.

“Your résumé isn’t a biography of your work history,” Connors said. “It’s your marketing tool designed to get you the job interview. Write it with that in mind.”

When writing a résumé, experienced workers should remember these tips:

Be succinct. Keep the résumé to two pages unless you have a complex history that highlights relevant experience that needs to be included.

One-size-fits-all doesn’t work. Executive recruiters want you to include every job you’ve ever had and are sensitive about leaving off experience. If you’re participating in an executive search, include everything — even if it’s four to five pages, said Magnuson. However, create a shorter version (two pages) for interviews, online applications and e-mailing to networking contacts.

Start with a summary. This replaces what was called an “objective” at the top of the résumé. “Objective” is a dated term. “Include a summary paragraph that lays out a clear message about the role you want and what makes you a great candidate,” said Magnuson.

Create an “Experience” section. How far back do you go? Aim for 15-20 years. Include a brief description of what the company you worked for did. Focus on what you’ve achieved, not on tasks and responsibilities.

Don’t leave jobs off. Recruiters still want to know what you did in the past, even if you don’t elaborate in great detail. After the experience part create a “Related Experience” section that lists jobs by title/company/location only. It’s OK to leave dates off, especially from 25-30+ years ago.

Tech savvy? Show it. “A common misperception of more mature workers is that they don’t have up-to-date computer skills and have difficulty using new technologies,” said Connors.

Last but not least, don’t list “references available upon request” at the bottom — employers expect them to be available.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker


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If you’re a senior citizen job seeker, your biggest challenge may lie in adapting your resume to depict you as qualified for the modern workplace. Instead of focusing solely on job experience, tailor your resume to showcase what skills you have to offer and downplay information that portrays you as overqualified.

Highlight Transferable Skills

Don’t limit your qualifications to what you’ve done professionally. All of your skills and accomplishments are relevant, so include them on your resume if they relate to the jobs you’re applying for. If you’ve taught yourself computer skills, a foreign language or any other talent, include it even if it wasn’t part of your job duties. The Street recommends emphasizing your knowledge with an achievement-based resume. Instead of just listing your jobs chronologically, lead with a section featuring three or four skills sets that apply to the job you’re applying for. Describe how you used those skills at your previous jobs, and include specifics such as “increased sales by 15 percent.”

Include Only Recent Information

You don’t need to list your entire work history, especially if it dates back several decades. A lengthy work history draws attention to your age, and some experience may not be relevant because of changes within the industry. You only need to list your most recent 15 to 20 years of experience or your most recent three to four jobs. If you include older jobs, omit the dates of employment and also omit college graduation dates.

Downplay Job Titles

If you’ve primarily held high-level positions such as vice president or chief operating officer, employers may think you’re overqualified if you’re applying for something lower on the corporate ladder. Many senior citizens, especially those who have retired, want to remain in the workforce at least part time, and seek lower-stress jobs than they held as a full-time professional. However, if your most recent job was as a CEO, employers may hesitate to hire you as a retail sales associate. If you’re seeking positions of a significantly lower stature than your most recent experience, one Forbes article recommends downplaying your prior positions. For example: “senior manager” instead of “vice president.”

Fill In Gaps on Your Resume

If you haven’t worked in several years, for example because you stayed home to raise your children, downplay the gaps in your work experience. According to The Muse, a skills-based resume will best suit your needs, but a chronological resume can also be tweaked to highlight your uncompensated work experiences. Instead of saying you were unemployed, describe what you did during that time and how it applies to the jobs you’re applying for. Create a section titled “Full-Time Parent” and list your responsibilities just as you would list the job duties for a paid position. This could include managing your family’s budget or homeschooling your children. If you volunteered at your child’s school or with community organizations, create a section for volunteer experience and list positions you held, such as treasurer of your homeowner’s association. Also include part-time and temporary jobs.

How to write a resume as an older job seeker


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When writing your resume you might wish to avoid questions about short stay positions, experience from long ago or exactly how long you have been in the workforce. Employers scrutinize a potential employee’s age, experience and the time spent at each former job before calling her in for an interview. Although it is never recommended that employment dates be completely omitted, if you know how to avoid making them a centerpiece of your resume you can place yourself in the best possible light.

Create a skills-based resume and leave the traditional chronological format behind. This places the emphasis on what you can do and not when you’ve done it. List your three most well established and relevant skills in the first section of the resume. Title the section “Skills Summary,” and give some specific examples of how you developed and used each of the skills listed arranged as concise and descriptive bullet points.

Create a section titled “Work History” and list each of your most significant and relevant positions held. Include a description of the job and your accomplishments while there. Write in only the years you worked at a particular position and leave out the months entirely. You can also eliminate any positions held longer than 10 or 12 years ago because that would reveal that you have been in the workforce for longer than you might want to indicate. Anything prior to that cutoff date is typically inconsequential to hiring managers and HR professionals who are more concerned with current skills and experience.

Load the rest of the resume with sections like “References,” “Education Information,” any additional skills or certifications you have obtained and any non-career activities or skills that might have some positive bearing on your eligibility as an applicant. The idea is present the strongest evidence that you are a viable and desirable candidate for the position while downplaying any potential negatives. Because your resume is the first point of contact between you and your new employer, it should be designed to make the most of what you have to offer.