Photo: © Stuart O'Sullivan
After years of steady employment, you've found yourself unexpectedly back on the job market. And since you're facing major changes in technology, networking, benefits and self-branding, it can feel overwhelming. What now? Start with the basics and revamp your resume. Remember that you have desirable skills and experience-you just have to package them in a way that will make you seem relevant, not dated. Read on to learn how the right language and resume format can get you in the door, and hopefully beyond.
1. Don't List All Your Experience
It may seem counterintuitive, but a list of 20 to 30 years' worth of experience is not what prospective employers are interested in. They want to know what you've done lately. Avoid listing experience that dates back further than 15 years. Instead, emphasize your most recent positions. If the list seems sparse, include any organizations, affiliations and awards that are relevant to the position you're applying for. If you have previous work experience that you insist on including, stick with highlights and omit dates.
2. Don't Use Tired-Sounding Words
Language is a big indication of where you are in your career. If you use words such as "seasoned" and "veteran," you're not only making yourself sound older, but suggesting that you see yourself that way too. Freshen up your text with action-oriented words that carry positive connotations, like "versatile" and "adaptable." Focus on how you developed and maximized your role in each position.
3. Don't Overload the Page
Resume formats are constantly changing, so be sure you are up-to-date on current styles. It's ideal to keep your resume to a single page; however, if you have more than 15 years of experience, it's acceptable to add a second page-but no more. Use a standard font, such as Arial, in a size that is no smaller than 11 point. Print your resume on white paper with black ink, avoiding colors. In addition to a print version, be sure to create a "plain text" resume for online databases, which sets every line against the left margin and has no formatting such as bullets, bold, italics, etc. When emailing your resume, be sure to use a PDF version, since formatting and font can change from computer to computer with a basic Word document.
4. Don't List Experience Chronologically
Structure your resume by function or skill set instead of chronology. Spotlight the last 10 to 15 years, highlighting your skills and responsibilities. Be as specific as possible, showcasing how valuable you were in each role. Avoid blanket, generic-sounding duties. For example, saying you "managed 20 people" is much more valuable and interesting than listing that you were "department manager for 14 years."
5. Don't Ignore the Internet
In today's job market, it's vital to have a professional online presence. In fact, searching your name online is the first thing many employers will do before they even call you for an interview. Establish a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and ZoomInfo. For your profile photo, use a pleasant picture that only features you-no family members or friends. Keep these accounts professional; don't post anything personal you wouldn't want employers to see.
6. Don't List Skills Just for the Sake of It
Are you savvy in computer systems or programs that have seen their popularity expire? Skip them. Nearly every industry has moved to computers in some capacity, so employers are particularly concerned with technical experience. State your most up-to-date skills and remove any obsolete technology. Even your email address can date you: If you have an AOL, Road Runner or EarthLink account, open a new one with Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail and list that as your point of contact.
7. Don't Think Education Dates are Essential
If an employer wants to know your age, they will head straight to the education section. While it's preferable to list graduation dates, it's better to leave them off if you completed your program in the 1960s or earlier. Remember that university programs are not the only form of education you can list here-if you've taken any special training or coursework that pertains to your field, add that to this section.
8. Don't Choose Quantity Over Quality
The biggest boon of your age is that you've accomplished a lot more than the younger competition. You can use this to your advantage-you just have to put the right spin on it. Instead of an exhaustive list of every job you've held, play up a few select positions and elaborate on what you achieved while there. Focus on the positive and productive, providing examples of how your performance helped past employers meet or exceed their goals and bottom-line results.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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