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Writing Your First Resume at Fifty-Five Years Old

Common Faux Pas and Expert Fixes
Dear Sam Modified: March 1, 2013 at 11:58 am •  Published: March 2, 2013
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Faux Pas: Don’t present too much information

When reviewing your career, remember that hiring managers are much more interested in what you have done recently, so including information from 20 or 30 years ago will likely do more harm than good. Be sure to focus on the last 10-15 years of your career, particularly if you are applying for a position that does not necessitate more experience.

Fix: Do include early career data if it adds value to your candidacy

There is a technique in résumé writing called “bylining.” This simply means breaking format at the end of your professional experience section and presenting earlier experience(s) without dates. To do this well you must change the way the information is being presented in order to justify the omission of dates. For example, if you are presenting your career back to 1995 but held a job in the early 1980s that is directly related to your current career target, you may add a statement at the end of your résumé akin to: “Additional experience with ABC Company as a Sales Manager.” You can elaborate on this statement if you like, perhaps presenting some key accomplishments in the role, but the key is to not present dates. Bylining this early experience allows you, as a candidate, to pull from all your related experience, discuss the benefits of that role elsewhere in your résumé and cover letter, provide additional evidence of your qualifications at an interview, and do all of those things without unnecessarily aging your candidacy.

Faux Pas: Don’t use the same résumé format you used after high school

Think about it, if a résumé is unattractive—and it will be if you are using the same format you used previous to the past 5-7 years—it repels readership, however if you have a pleasing aesthetic it compels readership and goes a long way to extending the screening process.

Fix: Do create a compelling design to complement your content

Check out professional résumé writing websites like my own for ideas on attractive formatting, being sure to create your own look that doesn’t look like an overused Word template available to the masses. The look of your résumé says a lot about your candidacy, your attention to detail, and your ability to create an engaging document.

I really wish you much success as you embark on this new chapter in your professional career. I have many samples of résumés I have written available on my ‘Dear Sam’ blog, many of which feature candidates not unlike you Jim. Visit www.ladybug-design.com/blog for inspiration!