Writing your first résumé at 55

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Published: June 1, 2012
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Dear Sam: I hate to admit it, but at 55 years old, I needed to write my first résumé. I have worked since the age of 18 but I have never needed to develop a résumé.

I suppose not needing a résumé was a good thing as it meant I was always referred for opportunities by my friends or co-workers, but now having been downsized as a Baby Boomer I find myself in unfamiliar territory.

I created what I thought was a good résumé, but having read your columns in recent months, and having put my résumé into the market without so much as one response, I’m beginning to realize that my résumé is outdated in style and format.

Could you give me some tips to help me create an up-to-date résumé that can market my candidacy? – Jim

Dear Jim: I know it doesn’t make your situation any easier but you certainly are not alone.

You would not believe how many people I talk to each week that find themselves needing to write their first résumé at an age at which they expected to be planning their retirement.

Some people I speak to are frustrated, confused, and sometimes even angry, not to mention feel completely lost as to where to begin when thinking of crafting a résumé to present their extensive career.

First, determine what direction you are going to take your career as this plays a vital role in what direction you must take your résumé.

If you have not figured this out, it is time to do so, as without that key target you will not know where to aim your résumé and its content.

Second, start writing down the basics. Remember that hiring managers will want to know about the last 10-15 years or so of your career, so focus on your most recent roles.

Think about your jobs not only in terms of what you did every day, but most importantly, what you did that added value to the company.

If you have access to past job descriptions, performance reviews, or anything else that will help jog your memory, now is the time to use those resources.

Start talking to past co-workers, not only to build your job search network, but also to reach out to those that may have very valuable information on what you did that added value to your employer.

Once you have the basics drafted, carefully craft the content and design of your résumé, being sure to not fall victim to the Baby Boomer résumé faux pas …

DON’T use an outdated format. Be sure to create a résumé that is up-to-date in content and design.

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