RetirementJobs.com Staff Writers
Article 3 of 8 from "The New World of Job Searching"
Regardless of your occupation, work history, or objective, you need a resume in order to get a job.
The handwritten application, where you had to squeeze the required information into very small boxes, is largely out of use. Applying for a job today means an electronically submitted resume via the internet or an application form completed online at a company’s website or at a kiosk at the employer’s facility.
A resume is mandatory if part of your job search plan is to place your resume on file at an employer’s career site or a job posting board. Think of your resume as a personal advertisement and request for an interview.
General Portrayal Regarding Age
Your resume should reflect a strongly positive and proud portrayal of your depth of capabilities and talents. No attempt should be made to mislead or misinform the reader regarding your age. Most resumes require no more than 10 to 20 years of recent and relevant work history. Earlier positions should be included if representative of qualifications for the position of interest. Generally, the word "experience" is avoided or its use minimized. Emphasis is on capabilities, qualifications and achievements – not previous titles, duties and length of service.
Resumes should not exceed two pages for most occupations, though educators and some professionals may require a longer resume. Prepare your resume in a standard word application such as Microsoft Word using a traditional, easily read font such as Arial and keep the text in a uniform font size of 10 or 11. Your name, section headings and employers names can be in a bold and in a somewhat larger font, perhaps 12 or 13. Avoid multiple fonts and excessive bolding, italics and underlining.
The preferred resume style for most age 50+ workers is a combination of a functional or qualification-based resume, and a traditional chronological resume.
What about keywords? It is common for many employers to scan resumes electronically to locate "keywords" that are specific to the job in question. While a single, standard resume is better than no resume, you should be prepared to revise your resume to the specific job of interest. Appropriately insert keywords taken from the employer’s job ad or position description including job titles, qualifications, knowledge and skills.
Language and word choice should convey activity, energy and achievement. This is critical for age 50+ job seekers. Active verbs and clear depiction of contributions and achievements will bring a vitality and strength to your resume. Use contemporary expressions and technical wording, particularly related to computer skills and knowledge.
OK, let’s construct a resume…
Heading and Contact Information
Place your full name at the top center in a somewhat larger and bold font. Contact information should include residential address (city and state as a minimum); preferred phone number (a mobile phone is strongly advised so you can respond immediately to inquiries); and an e-mail address (select an e-mail address that is business-like – your full name or a variation of it would be best). If your resume has multiple pages, put your name at the top of each page. Separate the heading section and all subsequent sections with a page-width horizontal line to aid the reader.
Occupational or Career Objective
The first section of the resume is a statement of occupational or career objective specifying the industry sector, profession or occupation and level of responsibility (individual contributor or supervisory/managerial). You can begin this section with a general title of your occupation in bold font such as "Senior Computer Support Specialist,", "Pharmacist," "Grocery Produce Department Manager" or "General Accountant." If you are pursuing an occupational or professional change, or returning to the workforce following an absence, this should be explicitly stated in the objective section.
Skills, Capabilities and Qualifications
Critical, or transferable (for career changers) skills, capabilities and qualifications should be presented in a bulleted format and be limited to the 10 to 12 most important factors. These factors can be tailored to the position sought. Cite specific knowledge, certifications and credentials (degrees, workshops, seminars), technical capabilities (i.e. computer skills), personal attributes (leadership, organization, results-orientation, interpersonal skills, etc.), and industry-specific items. For example:
Staff Supervision (e.g. effectively supervised staffs numbering from 5 to 15 in various environments)
This is vital information to the person scanning your resume. You can briefly expand on each qualification or simply list the bulleted items.
In reverse chronological order, list each employer (accounting for the most recent 10 to 20 years) including employer name, description of enterprise, city/state of employment, calendar years of employment (you don’t need to put months in), most senior job title achieved, accountabilities, primary activities and achievements or notable results. The achievements and notable results can be placed in a bulleted list but limit them to two or three items.
You can consolidate other previous experience into a brief general paragraph such as "Previous positions in (state occupation and industry).
Education, Training and Affiliations
Enter formal education including name of school, location and course of study. You don’t need to put a graduation date unless it has been within the past 20 years. If you did not complete a degree program from the school, note either "Attended" or "Completed Coursework". Formal education is often checked during background inquiries and any misrepresentation is likely to be discovered.
List any meaningful training in a bulleted list. This would include recognized, rigorous and relevant programs with a direct bearing on your occupation objective and qualifications.
Certifications and Affiliations
Finally, list certifications and occupational affiliations in a bulleted list. Any certifications should be issued by recognized organizations and affiliations should be from existing organizations with a bearing on your occupational objective.
What Not to Put In
Do not include personal or family information. Include social and recreational activities only if they have a bearing on the position of interest (i.e. a leadership position if you are seeking a supervisory role). Do not include references or even mention the availability of references – that comes much later in the process. Do not include photos, colors or graphic art.
Submitting Your Resume
You can submit your resume to an employer through their career web page. It may be necessary to "cut and paste" it into their format. It may be necessary to convert your Word-format document into plain text format. Plain text is often required when "pasting" resumes into online forms and databases. Just copy the text from the word document and paste it into the "notepad’ feature on your computer. Save the document as a .txt file.
Cover letters are often overdone. Their primary purpose is to provide a sample of your best business writing skills and not to summarize your work history. Make every effort to address your cover letter to an actual person. Try to get the correct name and title of the employer contact.
If you were referred to the employer, be certain to "drop" the name of the person referring you. This could be current employee or any individual the recruiter may be familiar with. Even if it is only word-of-mouth, most recruiters will be favorably impressed to know you were inquiring about the organization and they enjoy a positive reputation.
Your cover letter should briefly but firmly state your interest in the employer and position. Highlight two or three items from your background that may catch the recruiter’s eye. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t be reluctant to "sell yourself". Display confidence in your capabilities and in your belief that you are an ideal candidate for the position. The cover letter is a way to begin displaying your self confidence.
Before submitting or sending any material, proofread your resume and cover letter several times. Ask a friend or colleague to double check them. Even one or two errors or typos can derail your application.
What’s Next ? Types of Employment
Resume tips for full-time parents returning to work
It's tough to get back on the career track after being a full-time parent. Make sure your resume helps you sell yourself.
Parents can use these resume tips when re-entering the workforce.
The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate 5 million women and 176,000 men are stay-at-home parents. Although the Census Bureau doesn’t track the number returning to work, hundreds of thousands of parents decide to venture back to the workplace every year. These tips will help you get your resume noticed despite the employment gap.
Highlight related activities
You need to convince employers that you have the skills and experience to do the job, so your resume’s content must actively sell you. When writing about your time out of the paid workforce, include only those activities that back up the skills relevant to your career goal.
“Most women who stay at home for a period of time are not just doing laundry and homework oversight," says Kathryn Sollmann, founder of 9 Lives for Women, a career-advisory firm that helps current and returning professionals re-enter the workforce. "Most women are involved in significant volunteer efforts, and that is the experience that should be included in a resume." Sollmann successfully returned to the workforce by leveraging her volunteer and freelance experience.
You can highlight the following activities on your resume:
- Volunteer/community involvement (PTA, charity work, fundraisers): Just because you weren’t paid, doesn’t make the experience any less valuable, so treat volunteer work like you would a paid position on your resume. If you held leadership roles or made a difference to your organizations, tout your accomplishments and the key skills developed. You can include volunteer work in your work experience section to cover the employment gap.
- Continuing education: Show that you’ve kept your skills refreshed through courses, online learning, and/or independent study. Looking to add more skills? Our partners at Skillshare offer 10,000 online classes to help you brush up on Excel, Adobe Photoshop, public speaking, and more. Join Monster and get three months for $0.99.
- Freelance projects: If you’ve done consulting/freelance work that’s related to your job target, include project highlights in your work experience section.
- Professional development: Demonstrate your commitment to the field by including membership in professional organizations and participation in conferences.
- Work-at-home/Self-employment: Even if you worked part-time for yourself or your partner, include the experience on your resume.
Should you use a job title?
There’s conflicting advice about whether to give yourself a job title and job description for your role as a parent. If your homemaker activities are related to your job target, it makes sense to draw attention to your parenting activities and accomplishments. For example, if you are looking for a job teaching, in a day care, or working for an organization serving children, you could emphasize the relevant experience of child care and incidental teaching as a stay-at-home parent. Examples of job titles parents have used include: household manager, manager—Jones family, and family CEO.
For most people, though, it’s best to avoid including parenting as an actual job on the resume. "We, personally, feel that there is no need to dress up time at home with silly titles like ‘domestic engineer,’" says Sollmann. "The important thing is to identify how you have continued to use your business skills in the time you have been out of the workforce. And if you truly have had nothing but child care and household responsibilities, it would be a good idea to get involved in some volunteer activities that require business skills—managing committees, writing newsletters, handling budgets, etc."
Select the best resume format
According to Linda Matias, president of CareerStrides, the right resume format is critical to getting noticed. Matias suggests that parents avoid chronological resumes and consider using a combination resume format. A chronological resume can eliminate a parent's candidacy in seconds, she says.
Parents who have been out of the workforce for a number of years and have minimal alternative experience, such as volunteer work, may need a functional resume. Although functional resumes are not preferred by hiring managers, this format allows you to emphasize your skills while downplaying your employment history.
Use your cover letter to briefly explain your recent gap, but emphasize that you have kept your skills up to date and are energized to return to the workforce.
Are you a parent looking to re-enter the workforce, but aren't sure where to start? A great first step is to join Monster today. As a member, you can upload your resume and make it searchable to recruiters looking for people like you.