Resume Tips for Baby Boomers

For baby boomers, a clean, effective resume design is a shield against age bias in a job search. Perhaps you’ve heard the baby boomer generation’s battle cry: 70 is the new 50? Okay, then 60 is the new 40! And 50 is the new 30! Take this attitude to heart in your resume.

To forestall age discrimination in a job search, tailor your resume to make yourself look like a well-qualified candidate by using these tips:

  • Match your target job description: Find or write job descriptions of your target occupations. If you like your current field and are leaving involuntarily because it’s disappearing from under your feet, start with job descriptions in closely related jobs. Compare requirements of related jobs with your transferable skills profile.

    To identify occupations closely related to your current field, check the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • Shorten your resume: The general guideline is “Go back no more than 15 years.” But if that doesn’t work for the job you seek, one answer is to create a functional resume where you emphasize your relevant skills in detail toward the top of the resume and downplay overly impressive titles that might intimidate younger employers. For example, Senior Vice President, Sales becomes Sales Executive.

  • Focus your resume: Concentrate on highlighting your two most recent or most relevant jobs. Don’t attempt to give equal attention to each of your past jobs. If your job experience has been diverse, your resume may look like a job-hopping tale of unrelated job after unrelated job.

  • Show that you’re a tower of strength: Give examples of how you solved problems, recovered expenses, and learned to compensate for weaknesses in your working environment. Emphasize how quickly such adjustments occurred.

  • Demonstrate political correctness: This is especially important for positions that have contact with the public. Show that you’re familiar with contemporary values by using politically correct terms wherever appropriate. Examples include diversity, cross-cultural, mainstream, multiethnic, and people with disabilities (never handicapped), and women (not girls or gals).

  • Distribute your resume online: Doing so helps dispel any ideas that you’re over the hill.

  • Omit ancient education dates: Of course, the absence of dates sends a signal: This is a geezer who read a resume book. But at least it shows that you have sufficient faculties left to read the book and play the game.

  • Trim your resume to fighting weight: For very experienced professionals, sorting out the most powerful resume points can be difficult.

  • Use appropriate headings: If you’re using freelance, hobby, or volunteer experience, use the heading Work Experience and list it first, unless you have changed your focus through education. Then, begin with the heading Education. To refine this heading, substitute target-job-related education, such as Accounting Education or Healthcare Education. Your employment history follows.

    What do you do with all the experience that was great in your old job but means zero where you want to go? Lump it together at the end of your resume under Other Experience or Earlier Experience. Shrink it to positions, titles, employers, and/or degrees and educational institutions. If extraneous experience is older than five years, eliminate it.

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