Written by Jan Cullinane, co-author of The New Retirement: Revised and Updated: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, shares advice for job seekers over 50.
Whether you’re looking for work after a recent layoff or returning to the job force during your retirement years, here are some tips for updating your resume and putting your best foot forward during an interview:
- Don’t feel obligated to list every job you’ve ever had on your resume.
Concentrate on those positions that are pertinent to the employment you are seeking. If you’re looking to change careers, or if you’re reentering the workforce after a hiatus, concentrate on the transferable skills applicable to the new position, and downplay job titles if necessary.
- Emphasize your accomplishments, results, and outstanding qualifications in a succinct paragraph at the top of your resume.
Include any computer expertise, course work, or professional development to accentuate your openness to learning, as well as your email address.
- When e-mailing a resume, don’t send it as an attachment in case it can’t (or won’t) be opened.
Also, email a copy to yourself prior to sending it to a potential employer to make sure it looks like you want it to look.
- In your cover letter, emphasize that you are a proven entity.
Don’t say you’ve worked for 30 years. Stress that you are flexible, adaptable, willing to learn, and that you have transferable skills.
- Functional vs chronological resume? It depends.
There is some disagreement as to what type of resume older workers should use. A functional resume highlights accomplishments and talents and downplays when the work was done. But many employers and recruiters know this type of resume can be hiding work gaps and age, and dislike them. Chronological resumes are the preferred choice among most of those in hiring positions, but they can be a disadvantage if your latest experience doesn’t match the new position, or if age matters. Combing both types into a “chrono-functional” resume could be the best bet. An excellent site for resume types, sample resumes, and tips on negotiating and networking can be found at http://www.careerjournal.com. Click on “Job-Hunting Advice.”
- When you land an interview, be sure you’re knowledgeable about the company and come prepared with a list of several questions to ask the interviewer.
As always: dress up, smile, be enthusiastic, make eye contact, and have a firm handshake.
- At the interview, once again, emphasize your flexibility, motivation, interpersonal skills, and willingness to learn.
Let the interviewer know you want to contribute to the company and that you’re not looking for a job because you’re broke or bored! Use your age to your advantage, stressing your experience with problem solving, a proven track record, and strong work ethic. If you’re happy to work part-time, let the prospective employer know that you are a bargain. You have tons of experience, but you don’t have to be paid what they might pay a younger, full-time employee.
- Address any questions (insidious or obvious) about your age forthrightly be reassuring the interviewer that you can handle the job as well as bring experience, enthusiasm, and wisdom to the position.
Slip in (assuming its true) how you’re playing tennis or love to downhill ski, hike, or swim to convey that you are a vital energetic person. If asked how you feel about working for someone younger than you, AARP suggests your respond, “When I get to the point where I can’t learn from someone younger or older than I, I will stop working.” (For more suggestions on answering difficult interview questions, go to and type “tough interview questions” into the search bar.)
- Follow up with a thank-you note!