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Over 50 or a Boomer? Modernize Your Resume!

By Phyllis Mufson

The times, they are a-changing. Seriously!

Catch up, so you aren't left behind (or viewed as "out-of-date").

In "Effective Resumes For Boomers" you learned that 87% or more resumes are rejected before they are ever read by a person.

You've followed the step-by-step instructions to make sure that your resume is among the 13% that make the cut.


Still, there is another hurdle up ahead.

Your Resume Must Pass the 6-Second Resume Review Test

Your resume will be read very quickly, actually scanned in as little as six-seconds, before it is accepted for in-depth review (and a potential interview for you), or rejected and filed in "the round file."

It hardly seems fair, but it's a human response to the sheer volume of applications employers are receiving.

Your resume needs to be formatted in a manner that lets the recruiter know, as quickly and as clearly as possible:

  • That you, and your experience, are relevant and up to date.
  • That your accomplishments relate to the role you are applying for.
  • And that (as outlined in Effective Resumes for Boomers) your resume was customized for this position.

Make it easy for the resume reviewer; format your resume a new way. The sample format following will work for most older job seekers.

1. Resume Header

Heading your resume with your contact information may sound like a no-brainer, but this is an area where styles have changed and details matter.

  • Include your name, phone number, email, and URL for your LinkedIn profile.
  • Do include the address of your personal website if you have one.
  • Do not include your street address. This is passé.
  • AOL email addresses look so 1995. You can easily create a gmail account to use specifically for your job search.

2. Title on Your Resume

Simply add the title of the job you're applying for rather than using the old-fashioned "Objective."

3. Profile or Summary of Qualifications

A profile states who you are and the benefits the employer can expect from hiring you, proven by your experience.

  • While listing thirty years of experience sounds old, a concise statement about what your experience allows you to do -- that someone with less experience can't do -- sounds competent and knowledgeable.
  • To write your statement, keep asking yourself why an employer should care about your experience.
  • Always give examples that support your statements.

4. Core Competencies

Using the job description as a guide:

  • List relevant keywords for pertinent skills.
  • Remove any outdated skills or software.

[More: Keywords for Your Job Search.]

5. Professional Experience or Career History

Some classic resume advice still holds true:

  • List your major responsibilities and results (most recent job first). Keywords are very important here, too.
  • Use active verbs such as coordinated, managed, taught, rather than passive language such as writing "responsible for."
  • Use the past tense for all but your current job.

What has shifted?

  • The modern resume focuses primarily on your achievements, rather than your responsibilities. Ask yourself, what were your major contributions in that role?
  • To prepare to write achievement statements write your accomplishments in the CAR format (Challenges, Actions, Results).

    • What was the challenge you responded to?
    • What actions did you take to solve the challenge?
    • What were the results? Quantify the results as much as possible.
  • Include only your experience for the past ten to fifteen years in this section.
  • Limit yourself to three to five bullet points per section to avoid fatiguing the reader.

6. Other Professional Experience

Focusing on the job you are applying for:

  • Briefly list your relevant professional experience prior to 2000.
  • Rather than listing dates of employment (i.e. 1990 – 1995), which can signal to the machine scanner used by most businesses to reject your resume, write the number of years of employment (five years) in your description of your role.
  • If you have early job experience that is significant for the job you are applying for, list it here and also highlight it in your profile.

7. Education and Professional Development

List your formal education and also show that you're keeping up with your industry by listing trainings and certifications. These are important keywords.

8. Affiliations and Civic Engagement

List organizations you belong to or community activities you have participated in.

  • Are you on a committee at a professional association? You can list that here.
  • Only list activities that enhance and support the role you are seeking.

These are also important keywords.

9: Awards and Honors

List all major awards and honors.

Don't forget the finishing touches:

  • Seasoned workers do not need to restrict their resumes to one page. Resumes may be two pages and, in certain circumstances, as much as three, but make your resume only as long as needed to highlight your qualifications -- and not one word more.
  • Prepare your resume in different formats for different situations; in MS Word, in plain text, and as a PDF.

    • Use MS Word when you need a printed resume or to send it as an email attachment.
    • You'll need the plain text version to cut and paste into online job application forms.
    • Many employers will also request a PDF of your resume, which you can easily create using a free online PDF converter.

Use these tips to show off what you offer an employer. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and showcases what's best from your years of experience, work ethic, and accomplishments.

More About Resumes, Keywords, and Boomer Job Search

Phyllis Mufson About the author...

Phyllis Mufson is a career / business consultant and a certified life coach with over 25 years of experience. She has helped hundreds of clients successfully navigate career transitions. You can learn more about Phyllis and her practice at PhyllisMufson and follow Phyllis on Twitter @PhyllisMufson.