As a post-50 job-seeker, your best bet to land an interview -- and ultimately the job -- is through people you know, i.e. networking. Nevertheless, your resume still needs to be top-notch; your contacts will generally recommend you by providing perspective employers with a copy of this vital document. How you choose to display your skills and expertise on your resume, therefore, becomes their first impression of you. In truth, it can make or break your chances for success.
If your resume seems to be falling short and failing to produce the results you'd like, you'll want to make certain to check out these three critical tips.
#1 Think top/left: Order is important. You'll need to make the greatest impact in the least amount of time. Your goal, in fact, is to immediately engage the reader so that they'll want to find out more about what you have to offer.
In English, we read top-down, left to right. That means your strongest skills and accomplishment statements need to appear to the top and to the left of your document. Wherever you have a skills column or a list of bulleted statements, be certain to order your skills and examples to match the qualifications of the position.
Whenever possible, make sure you get a copy of the posting prior to handing your resume to your contact. That way, you can highlight your skills and target your examples to focus directly on the qualifications required in the job description. It goes without saying that, by presenting yourself as the ideal candidate for the job, you are far more likely to succeed in obtaining that all-important interview.
#2 Ask yourself, "So what?" Today's resume needs to demonstrate that you're capable of achieving the goals and initiatives as set forth in the posting. Reviewers want to see the accomplishments you've produced, not just a list of job duties. So by asking yourself this simple question, you will naturally focus your statements to highlight the results you've achieved--thereby demonstrating how you're capable of making a difference.
Writing, "responsible for all aspects of product development," is basically a statement of your job duties. It says precious little about how your performed in the position. But "responsible for all aspects of product development" (so what?) becomes: "Achieved a 15 percent reduction in time to market by eliminating redundancies, increasing staff efficiency and effectively overseeing all aspects of product development." This statement speaks far more directly to what you can and will accomplish. Moreover, whenever possible, you'll want to further substantiate your accomplishments by quantifying the results you've produced.
#3 Make use of the 30-second test: Resume reviewers spend 30-seconds or less determining whether or not your resume is worth reading. This means that your critical skills and accomplishments must be visually presented in such a way that they immediately draw the eye. Bullet points, plenty of white space, a good-sized font and an attractive layout are all critical.
You can test how quickly your information is coming across by giving your friends the 30-second test. Hand them your resume and, in about half a minute's time, request that they hand it back to you. Then ask them, "What do you remember from my resume?" Their responses are sure to bring you real world feedback as to how well your key points are getting across to the reader.
There are numerous elements that go into creating a standout resume. Yet by following these three tips, you're far more likely to attract the attention of recruiters, resume reviewers and hiring managers. Placing critical information to the top and to the left, focusing on results by asking yourself the "so what" question, and checking your resume's impact by giving your friends the 30-second test will all help to enhance your first impression on paper. And, who knows? Your standout resume just might land in the hands of someone who's looking for a winning candidate exactly like you!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!