6 Essential Qualities to Include on Your Résumé to Get the Job You Want After 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

When you’re job hunting after 50, the first step is to be certain that your résumé clearly trumpets the qualities that most employers view as non-negotiable these days. Of course, each position has its unique requirements, but these six universal qualities are the ones you must showcase.

Show, don’t tell. Don’t use the terms introduced below, such as self-starter or tech savvy, on your résumé or cover letter. Employers see these terms so often that they’ve become cliché. Instead, demonstrate through concrete examples that you embody these qualities.

Self-starter

One reason employers value experienced workers is that they don’t need a lot of hand-holding and can hit the ground running. You need to demonstrate that you’re capable of working independently, able to get along without lots of supervision, and are great at managing your time and keeping a project on track.

When describing your work experience, use words such as managed, led, executed, and delivered and describe instances when you took the initiative or completed a project with little or no supervision. For example, “Interviewed machine operators and developed multimedia training programs that reduced training time for new hires by 25 percent.” Statements like this show rather than tell that you’re a self-starter.

Techie

One of the biggest concerns employers have about older workers is they aren’t up to speed with technology and perhaps are unwilling to learn. Prove them wrong. Here are a few ways to show that you’re tech savvy:

  • Include your email address as part of your contact information at the top of your résumé. Better yet, use a personal branded email address, such as kerry@kerryhannon.com, instead of a generic email address, such as kerryhannon@gmail.com or kerryhannon@hotmail.com. Yes, many employers discriminate based on the domain name of your email provider, and it could prevent you from landing an interview.

  • Mention in your résumé any experience with computer hardware and software, especially any hardware and software indicated specifically in the job description for the position you’re applying for. For example, AutoCad, QuickBooks, or WordPress.

  • Work teleconferencing and webinar technologies into your résumé, including Cisco WebEx, join.me, Google+, GoToMeeting, and TeamViewer. Experience with any of these teleconferencing and collaboration technologies demonstrates that you’re a team player who can work remotely while staying connected.

  • Maintain an active LinkedIn presence and list your personal LinkedIn URL on your résumé just below your email address. Prospective employers can then see for themselves how active you are in relevant industry and professional groups.

  • Showcase your personal blogging or website. If you have your own blog or website, include its URL on your résumé, so prospective employers can check it out. Even if they don’t visit, the URL shows that you’re tech savvy enough to create an online presence.

Problem solver

Employers see employees as either problems or problem solvers, and you definitely want to be in that second camp. When describing your professional accomplishments, add at least one that demonstrates your ability to identify and solve a problem.

For example, you may describe an instance when you noticed that several customers had the same complaint and you recommended a change in your company’s policies or procedures that improved customer satisfaction. Perhaps you found a way to cut the time required to perform a certain operation or a way to cut costs.

When you’re able to demonstrate that you’re a problem solver, you also show prospective employers that you’re more about solving problems than trying to find someone to blame.

Communicator

Regardless of the position you’re applying for, employers want people who can communicate effectively. You need to demonstrate an ability to understand and clearly present ideas and information. In terms of your résumé, your ability to communicate is demonstrated mostly through the organization and writing on the résumé itself. Here are few tips to make sure your résumé reflects your ability to communicate:

  • Tailor your résumé to the organization and job description to demonstrate your ability to understand the organization’s needs based on what you read.

  • Organize your résumé to present the information in a way that makes it easy for the reader to capture your work experience quickly. Aim for sharp, clear job titles, and easy to follow lively narratives of your job responsibilities. For example, you managed X project or led the team that introduced a new product.

  • Carefully proofread your résumé to eliminate errors. Better yet, have a friend or colleague read it for you and suggest corrections and improvements. An error-free résumé demonstrates attention to detail and commitment to quality, along with showing that you can express yourself clearly in writing.

Innovator

Most employers are looking for candidates who are creative thinkers. You need to be able to develop and pitch new ways of doing things and navigating challenges. When describing your experience or skills, be sure to include at least one instance when you invented a new idea or a way of doing something.

Perhaps you read customer posts online that inspired an idea for a new product or service, or maybe you read something about a competitor that opened up new opportunities for your organization. Try to think of any ideas you may have had that either made or saved your organization time or money or improved it in some way.

Lifelong learner

Having a high-school diploma or a college degree is a definite plus, but if you earned those in the ‘70s or ‘80s, that’s history. If possible, include more recent education, training, or certifications. Presenting yourself as a lifelong learner demonstrates that you’re humble enough to accept instruction, open to new ideas and information, and eager and willing to learn new things and improve yourself.