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10 Top Resume Tips for Experienced Older Workers (30s, 40s, 50s) in 2020


With unemployment on the rise, there are fewer jobs for mature professionals. And the competition is fierce, with people in every age group vying for an ever-shrinking pool of jobs. 

sample resumes for people over 50
 If you're an older worker trying to make your resume stand out, it's vital that you've got a good resume. (Image source: Envato Elements)

That's why it's more important than ever for experienced older workers to create an eye-catching resume.  There are more older workers today than ever before, and sometimes ageism can limit the available opportunities. Learn more in our article on generational diversity.

The bottom line: good resumes for experienced professionals are now essential. If you're an older worker trying to make your resume stand out, you may wonder how to distill your experience to give you the best chance of winning the job. 

In this guide, you'll learn how to create a resume for older workers. We'll show you how to list old jobs on a resume and share sample resumes for people over 50. We'll also include expert tips on how to write a resume for older adults. You'll learn how to make your resume more competitive to help you get more job interviews.

Jobs For Mature Professionals - Getting Started With Your Resume

resume format for 50 year olds
Choosing the type of resume is the first step to finding the right resume for older workers. (Image source: Envato Elements)

A resume, also known as the CV, is a summary of your professional experience, education and training, and skills. Recruiters use resumes to determine which candidates for the role are suitable for interview. That's why a resume is a key tool for anyone who is searching for a job.

If you're thinking about the ideal resume format for 50-year-olds, it's worth knowing that there are several types of resumes you can use in your job search:

  • A reverse chronological resume lists your experience and job roles from the most recent to the oldest. 
  • A functional resume focuses more on skills and ability than timing.
  • A hybrid or combination resume that includes both skills and job roles. 

Learn more about resumes in What is a Resume?

When you look at resume examples for older workers, it seems that a functional resume could be the best choice. That's because by omitting dates, you won't be excluded because of your age. But, as you'll see later, it's not quite so simple. There are some dates you've got to include. 

Whichever type of resume you choose, most sample resumes for older workers have some common elements. These include an introductory section, contact details, and information about skills, experience, education, and training. We'll look at these in more detail in the next section. 

10 Tips on Creating a Resume For Older Workers

resume for older workers
Learning how to write a resume for older adults can mean the difference between getting an interview and not getting one. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Here are some tips on the appropriate resume format for 50-year-olds:

1. Use a Functional or Combination Resume

As mentioned earlier, good resumes for experienced professionals often use the functional format. That's because this resume type lets you show off your skills before having to deal with dates of employment.  

Virginia Jeyapal of career services firm Shadow Management Consulting, advises:  

"There are many important elements to integrate and consider when writing a successful resume that will land a jobseeker an interview, hopefully many. I have seen mid-career professionals, as well as C-suite executives struggle with their branding and presentation on paper. My advice is always: focus on the achievements and the big wins. What is your ‘value added’? It is not just about performing the basic duties of the role, what did you do beyond that? List career accomplishments and big wins with as many quantifiable details, percentages, and dollar values. This shows that you are high-achieving, top-performing, and exceed expectations."

Wondering whether you should simply omit the dates on a resume for older workers? I'll tell you why this is a bad idea in the next tip.

2. Include Dates

cv template for older person
Do you wonder how to list old jobs on your resume? (Image source: Envato Elements)

Once upon a time, you might have got away with omitting dates of employment on a resume for older workers. That's no longer the case. Many recruiters use application tracking software (ATS). 

The software scans resumes automatically and may reject resumes without dates. That means that, instead of working in your favor, leaving out dates can actually cost you the opportunity to get an interview. 

Virginia Jeyapal says: 

"In the past 10-15 years, the most significant change to resume presentation and formatting is that resumes have had to be keyword optimized and scannable friendly and allow for easy filtering through ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and ranking algorithms. Resumes have had to adapt from being typewriter produced documents to online formats and layouts that need to be captured, read, interpreted, analyzed, and filtered. If your resume is not ATS optimized, content-rich, achievement-oriented, and reflective of industry requirements for the role, chances are you won’t be getting those interview calls."

But don't worry. It's not all bad news as you'll see in the next tip.

3. Limit the Timescale

Yes, you've got to include dates, but you don't have to include EVERY date. Most sample resumes for people over 50 include 10 to 15 years of experience at most. You can also leave out anything that's not relevant to the role you're applying for.

But play it by ear, comments Michelle Aikman on Glassdoor

"Consider how important the experience is to convey your ability to do the job and whether it is absolutely critical that you communicate your qualifications or past experiences with a timeline attached to it."

So, what if you've got relevant information from positions beyond that 10-15 year period? I'll look at how to handle that in the next tip.

4.  List Older Skills Under "Additional Relevant Experience"

If you're considering how to list old jobs on a resume, here's a good tip you'll see on many sample resumes for older workers. Create a section called "additional relevant experience". That's where you can list roles that relate to the job you're going for WITHOUT the dates. This makes it less likely that recruiters will discriminate against you based on your assumed age.

5. Leave Out Outdated Skills

If you look at a modern CV template for an older person, you'll see it looks a bit different from older templates. That's because the skills you've got to list are very different. Sure, 20 years ago, it was a big deal to be able to use Microsoft Office apps and different types of email software, but those are now foundational. If you list them as skills, it immediately dates your resume. Another tip is to avoid saying exactly how long you've had experience of a particular skill: it's enough to say 10+ years. 

Stephanie Holt, who advocates for women in STEM leadership, has this advice on skills from long ago:  

"It is critically important to have a real understanding about what the relevant skills currently are in your industry and to speak to those skills. Technology has made it so that over time what used to be considered skills are now considered a minimum requirement and those should be mastered but not mentioned."

6. Don't Date Your Education

sample resumes for older workers
On a resume for older workers, providing dates for education may be a bad idea. (Image source: Envato Elements)

In contrast, resume examples for older workers take a different approach to dealing with education. It's important that you've got it. When you got it is less important. So, you don't have to say when you got your undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualifications, unless these are very recent. And, since this isn't your first job application, leave your high school diploma off your resume.

Stephanie Holt comments: 

"While your age is not a secret, there is no reason to put the dates you attended college and possibly be eliminated from the pool of applicants before someone is able to see your real potential value to an organization. Your technical skills and complimentary skills (mentoring, leadership, team building) is what are important and highlighting those is the best way to show why you would be great for a role. Showing 15-20 years of experience and leaving dates off of education is perfectly acceptable."

7. Show Updated Training

When considering how to write a resume for older adults, there's one place where dates work for you. The dates are important when you're highlighting recent training courses you've taken. Listing the courses, along with the dates, shows recruiters that you're willing and able to learn, which is useful for potential new hires.

And if you've been out of work for a while, but have relevant recent volunteer experience and training, feel free to include that on your resume. You never know when your community spirit might help you get closer to an interview.

8. Tailor Your Resume to the Job

resume format for 50 year olds
Don't use the same resume for every job application. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Even if they share the same title, every job posting is slightly different. Each recruiter will take a different approach to listing skills, requirements and duties. What's nice to have for one role will be a must for another. 

Business News Daily says that job candidates have to pay attention to these differing requirements:

"Some companies have very specific instructions as to what they want to see in your resume, cover letter and work samples. Failing to do what's been asked could mean an automatic no from employers."

That's why older workers don't just need one resume; they need several. 

Learn more about tailoring your resume to a job posting in the article below:

9. Format Your Resume Correctly

Here's another factor that can derail otherwise good resumes for experienced professionals: formatting. Using the wrong formatting can give away your age. Twenty years ago, people were putting double spaces after a period, and using Times New Roman or another serif font for their resumes.

That's all changed. The best resumes use sans serif fonts and single spaces after a period. Other factors that can date your resume include:

  • Having a "resume objective". Instead, call it a "professional summary"
  • Using a Yahoo or AOL email address. Try Gmail instead
  • Having an unprofessional email address. Ensure you use a combination of your first and last name for best results
  • Having the words "fax" or "landline". Recruiters expect you to have a cell phone and use this as the number on your resume
  • No LinkedIn profile. Again, recruiters expect this, so include that link with the contact details at the top of your resume. 

Sound like a lot to manage? The next tip will show you how to create a great resume fast. 

10. Use a Resume Template

If you're concerned about getting resume formatting right, a good approach is to use a resume template. This makes it easy to create your resume the right way without having to think about fiddly details. A great place to start your search for a professional resume template is Envato Elements. You can download as many resume templates as you want for one low price. 

The right resume template will include section headings that match modern standards, the right fonts, and a beautiful layout. These will help you ensure that your resume gets recruiters' attention.

Modern Resume Examples for Older Workers

To find the perfect template to create a resume for older workers, check out the options in the articles below:

Learn More About Creating Resumes

Want more advice on how to write a resume for older adults? Check out the guides below for more resume creation tips:

Create Your Resume Today

Remember, when seeking jobs for mature professionals, you don't have to be at a disadvantage. Use the tips in this guide to help you create the perfect resume for your next job search. And don't forget to check out the resume templates on Envato Elements to help you craft an appealing resume. 

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