Finding a job after 50 is not an easy task, especially with the current job market state. However, if you come prepared, your chances can increase drastically. How do you optimize your CV to get a job?
If you need CV advice for over 50s, here are 10 actionable tips:
- Format Your CV Properly
- Tailor CV for Every Job Application
- Have an Online Resume
- Connect With Other People
- Consider Becoming a Consultant
- Provide Validation for Your Skills
- Fill in Any Gaps in Knowledge
- Freshen Up Your Email Address
- Use Keywords
- Remove Age From Your Resume
Instead of going into a job search with your old CV, try freshening it up with these tips. For even more useful advice — and detailed explanations — read on.
1. Format Your CV Properly
CV formatting has changed quite a bit over the years, and you should strive to meet the newest recommendations.
For starters, you should choose a modern font. An ideal font is easy to read. Choose a sans script like Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, or Roboto. All of these are common online, and people are more used to seeing them. Of course, you can pick a second matching font for the headings.
Next, focus on the design. Pick something modern and fresh, preferably minimalistic, and easy to read. It shouldn’t stand out more than your words, but it should support your information and showcase it in the best way possible.
You can find some resume samples on Google Docs. If you are looking for something colorful and unique, you can also make a resume using Canva — they often look like fun infographics, and you can decorate it. Remember to make it tasteful.
Make sure that there are no typos — you can get a partner to proofread it. As for the order of sections, you can pretty much follow the standard format of:
- Contact information at the top
- An overview or career objective
- Education (you don’t have to list your high school if you have a higher degree)
- Relevant skills
- Any specific achievements
At the end, you can add one more category to cover all of the jobs you’ve had that didn’t make it into the “Experience” category. Your resume shouldn’t be longer than two standard pages to keep it concise and easy to understand.
Avoid using buzzwords. These may seem fresh and modern, but people are overusing them, and they have become meaningless. For instance, words and phrases like “ninja (of something),” “(something) guru/evangelist/superstar,” should be avoided like the plague.
Next, skills like creative, responsible, passionate, results-oriented, fast-paced, etc. are not really skills, so it’s best to leave them out unless you have definite, measurable proof.
2. Tailor CV for Every Job Application
Sending the same CV to every company could be a time-saver, but it’s not going to get you a job that easily. Not all companies are going to be looking for the same set of skills, and some that you list may be less relevant and thus unusable for them.
So, before you send a resume to an employer, go through the job advertisement carefully, and see what they are looking for. Then, tailor your resume to those needs. Maybe some of the jobs you left out are more relevant to that position than the ones that made the cut. Maybe some of the skills you sacrificed for the sake of space-saving could have helped you get an interview.
Your overview should also state what you can do for that company, and this won’t always match what the company needs. This is why you need to make sure that your resume works for that company specifically.
3. Have an Online Resume
Make your job search easier by sharing your CV online. Most people have their resume online even if they are not looking for a job since that’s how recruiters often find good candidates. You can start by having a LinkedIn page. There are plenty of recruiters there. Just like on your regular resume, it should be concise, with only the most recent few past jobs listed.
You can ask some of your contacts to give you a reference so you can publish it on your page. This helps in confirming your skills, and it makes you more interesting to recruiters.
There are some other sites where you can put up your resume. For instance, Indeed, Monster, etc.
4. Connect With Other People
Networking is an extremely important thing to do during your job search. Some research states that as much as 80% of jobs are not advertised, which means that people get hired based on references or by sending unsolicited inquiries.
So, why shouldn’t that be you?
Connect with some of your contacts — people from your old job, your bosses, managers, business partners, etc. All of these people may have an idea where you could work. They might even have their own new businesses that could use your help. See if your friends and family members have any notable connections and whether they can help.
Furthermore, you can expand your contact list by going to various events related to your industry. These are often full of people looking for fresh talent, and you may just find your opportunity there. Plus, you could learn a lot at the same time, and get to know the behavior of the new employers.
Spend some time on social media and in relevant groups or online forums. This can help you meet new people without leaving your home and learn interesting bits of information that can boost your chances of finding the right opportunity.
Basically, the more time you spend connecting with other people, the better. And, the more people know that you are on the lookout for a job, the better your chances will be of finding one. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help.
5. Consider Becoming a Consultant
Instead of looking for a job in the same position you have always held before, why not consider some consultancy opportunities? Even better — starting your own consultancy firm. With your experience and knowledge, many new companies and startups could be looking for someone just like you.
While entrepreneurs have excellent ideas, they often need someone to help with different aspects of their business. This is where you would step in. Depending on your industry, you could help with finance, marketing, HR, technology, or anything similar. You could even advise business owners in creating a business plan.
It just depends on what you know. But this is generally an excellent area of work for experienced, older people with something to offer. Sharing your skills and knowledge can be very rewarding, and you could enjoy it.
6. Provide Validation for Your Skills
For each skill that you list in your resume, you should have some sort of validation. Why are you certain that you have that skill?
This is best done through numbers. Go through your employment history and try to see if there are any percentages that work for a skill. For example, your management skills may have increased employee engagement by 12%. This basically says that you are good with people, a team-player, and that you are a great manager. Your skills become more than just plain words on paper.
Focus on having credentials or some sort of proof for each of your skills. You don’t have to necessarily write them within your skills list, but you can put them in achievements under each of your previous jobs.
It’s also good to know these numbers and have that credit so you can further explain everything that you wrote in your resume once you get to the interview stage.
7. Fill in Any Gaps in Knowledge
If there’s a skill that you are not confident in, or a modern technology aspect you are not familiar with but is necessary for your job, you could learn it. This can easily turn your luck around and allow you to get a job quickly.
One of the biggest prejudices about older people is that they are not up-to-date on modern things. Fortunately, learning is far easier today than it ever was. For one, there are countless articles on any subject you care to learn about, and there are thousands of courses that you can take.
It’s important to note where your gaps in knowledge are, and then fill them quickly. These new skills you learn could shine on your resume, and together with your experience, enable you to get a good job.
8. Freshen Up Your Email Address
Email addresses can be notoriously strange or funny. But if you designate one specifically for your job hunt and job-related things, you can’t make a mistake. It’s important that it’s professional and that it doesn’t have any markers of your age — for example, the year of your birth.
You can easily create a new email address through Google and its Gmail service. It will only take a few minutes. Use your first and last name as a first try. If that turns up taken, you can try your first name initials and your full last name. There are other options you can try — like adding your middle name initial or something similar.
However, the most important thing is that it only contains letters for a clean, professional look. Add it to your resume and do all of your business through that email. Remember to check it. If it’s your secondary email, it can be easy to forget it.
9. Use Keywords
Resume keywords are phrases and words which represent skills that are required in the job advertisement. They are important because hiring managers don’t actually look through resumes, but they use a system that scans resumes for these keywords. This system is called applicant tracking system or ATS. It will eliminate any resumes that don’t have relevant keywords.
By having the necessary keywords in your resume, you can get through that initial assessment. While there’s no surefire way to know what they are, they will be related to your industry and line of work.
One nifty trick to find these keywords is to take a good look at the job advertisement. Look for keywords under the “Responsibilities” or “Requirements” sections because they will usually list all of the skills that you need. If you mention them on your resume, you can increase your chances of getting an interview.
If you want to improve your keyword game even more, look at other job advertisements that are similar to the one you are applying to and see if there are any keywords there. In general, keywords will be sprinkled throughout the job posting, and you should take advantage of that.
Remember that every resume you send out will need different keywords, so the tip about tailoring is important here too.
10. Remove Age From Your Resume
While you shouldn’t lie about your age, you don’t have to advertise it either. And there are some clear markers that can look old-fashioned.
For example, putting “Curriculum Vitae” at the top is not that common anymore. Instead, put your own name at the top. Unless the job ad requires otherwise, you don’t have to use a picture, home address, age, or marital status, either. It’s not commonly used anymore.
You can also remove the dates from your employment history and instead just state where you worked and what you achieved. When it comes to your education, focus on the GPA, achievements, and similar things, but remove the dates too. It’s not required.
Furthermore, select only your most recent jobs to put them in the “Experience” category. As for the other jobs, you can put them in a separate category and just briefly overview your biggest achievements.
Some Other Tips That Will Help You Get A Job
Other than optimizing your resume, there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting a job. Here are some tips.
Be Open To Part-Time or Temporary Work
Instead of waiting for a full-time job to come around, why not try some part-time opportunities? These can help you find a better job later down the line, but they can also teach you some useful skills. For example, you can get to know more modern systems of communication, get to understand automation and how it works, etc.
These jobs may not be as well-paid, but they will definitely provide a learning experience, and you might be able to transition to a full-time job within the same company after a while. Aside from learning all the technical stuff, you’ll also get a deeper understanding of the company culture that is favored these days.
Give Yourself A Makeover
While this may seem superficial, it can help you assimilate better with your younger coworkers and show that you are willing to learn, change, and accept new things. For example, you could dye your hair to cover gray hairs, dress a bit less formally for meetings — business casual would suffice, etc.
It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it can definitely help you in getting a better job. So, put in a little effort and your chances will increase.
Practice Interview Skills
CV is not the only important element in getting a better job — interviews are too. Together with making slight changes to your look, you should also brush up on some more recent interview elements. This area has changed over the years, so it would help if you come prepared.
Practice good body language and make sure that you also know how to answer some more open-ended questions, especially the ones related to the company culture.
Even if the current state of the job market isn’t in your favor, you have to retain your confidence. Just think about it — you have more experience in life and work than other people, and this is not a disadvantage. Don’t shy away from showing what you know and being assertive.
Naturally, support your confidence with skills and knowledge. People will appreciate an assertive, confident, and dynamic candidate who is not afraid to show up.
Try Blogging — Or Having Some Sort of Online Presence
One of the biggest concerns that employers have when it comes to older candidates is that they are not up-to-date with modern technologies. However, you can easily disprove them by having an online presence.
Start your own blog, share your posts on social media, and have an active life there, too. If your blog is mostly about your line of work, and it shows your expertise, even better. When it comes to social media, try to post only work-related things, and avoid sharing about personal matters. Even if you do, make it tasteful, and be careful about how you present yourself.
Finding a job takes effort and time at any age. So, just stay positive and keep looking! If I managed to find a few new positions after burning out in my mid-50s, so can you! In the meantime, you can find some freelance work that can boost your CV, practice tailoring your CV and test your skills.
Remember that you can easily remove age from your CV by removing the dates. Keep your CV concise and up to modern standards of formating. Good luck and let us know how your search is going!
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- Google Docs: Free Online Documents For Personal Use
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- Canva: Design Anything
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- Yahoo: Half of Employers Who Check Social Media Say It’s Torpedoed Job Applicants
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