CV Writing Tips For The Over-50s

CV Writing Tips For The Over-50s

More and more of us are heading back to work. Whether you think you have valuable skills which could be put to good use, or just want to try something new, it pays to know what to include in your resumé and what to leave out. To help, we asked the professionals to share their best advice.

Choose The Right Format

“Hiring managers receive many applications and often have little time to review them thoroughly, so make sure you submit a concise resumé that displays your qualifications for the job immediately. As a more experienced candidate, your resumé should be no longer than two pages. When creating your resumé, always include the following:

  • Your name and contact information

  • A professional summary

  • Your professional experience and work history

  • Your relevant skills

  • Your educational background

“There are three popular resume formats: reverse-chronological, combination and functional. Chronological is the most common and can show your career progression. A functional resume works well if you have employment gaps or are transitioning into a significantly different career. You can use a combination format when making a slight career change or if your employment history contains varied roles. Evaluate your professional situation and determine which format feels like the best fit.” – the team at recruitment firm Indeed

Tailor Your CV

“Always make an effort to submit a targeted resumé when applying for jobs. Matching your resumé to the job requirements helps you impress hiring managers because it shows that you have the specific skills and experience they’re looking for. To do this, use keywords from the job description throughout your summary, experience and skills sections. These keywords might include specific skills or types of software used in the role. They can also help you pass applicant tracking systems, improving your chances of getting your resume read.” – the Indeed team

Include A Professional Summary

“Because it is at the top of your resumé, a well-written summary can persuade hiring managers to keep reading and want to learn more. While your extensive experience is a benefit, be mindful of the language you use. For example, it is better to say you have ‘over 10 years of experience’ rather than ‘25 years of experience’. This language is still truthful but can help reduce the risk of age bias from your reader. Focus in your summary on how you will meet the employer's needs. In about 50 words, outline the skills, qualifications and accomplishments that prove you are the best candidate. Within this limited space, you want to ensure you only mention your most relevant experience.” – the Indeed team

Focus Your Experience Section

“Including your entire career history may provide unnecessary information and may overwhelm the hiring manager. Your experience section should include only the most relevant positions you have held within the last 10 to 15 years. You may choose to include a brief mention of any related jobs you held beyond that timeline as further proof of your qualifications. While you should generally leave unrelated or older roles off your CV, you can create a concise “Early Career” section to highlight your most significant accomplishments. These should be achievements that prove your value as an employee. Unlike your main Professional Experience section, this one should not include employment dates.” – the Indeed team

Account For Any Gaps

“Don’t attempt to skirt over any periods you’ve spent out of work. Put a positive spin on things – maybe you’ve been heading up a group or committee during a period of unemployment? It’s all relevant, so if it sounds good, put it in.” – Stewart Turner, Saga

Showcase Your Accomplishments

“Your experience section will include a bulleted list under each position. As a more experienced candidate, you should focus on your achievements rather than job responsibilities to prove your qualifications. Provide examples of how you previously used the required skills of the job to deliver positive results at work. Always try to use quantifiable data when possible because employers will be much more interested in a candidate who provides measurable value. You can also use these accomplishments to demonstrate your professional development. Also, be sure to display your career advancement by including promotions you received.” – the Indeed team

Highlight Your Technology Skills

“Most jobs today require some technical knowledge, which means your CV should promote your relevant proficiencies. When a job description mentions a specific technology, either show how you have used it in your experience section or list it in your skills section. Avoid mentioning any outdated technology. You want to emphasise that your skills are up to date with current trends, and that you are comfortable learning new technology as needed.” – the Indeed team

If you’re worried that a potential employer will clock your date of birth and move on to the next candidate, the good news is that there’s no obligation to put it on your CV.
Stewart Turner

Avoid Graduation Dates & DOBs

“Your education section should only include the degrees you have and the schools you attended, no graduation dates. Age discrimination is illegal, but this step can help limit the possibility of age bias. If you have multiple degrees, start with the most advanced. You should also include any relevant recent training or certifications you have received. These details show your commitment to improving and developing your skillset.” – the Indeed team
“If you’re worried that a potential employer will clock your date of birth and move on to the next candidate, the good news is that there’s no obligation to put it on your CV. You don’t even need to include school or university graduation dates if you don’t want to.” – Stewart 

Demonstrate Your Online Presence

“Applicants often provide links to social media profiles or personal websites, so you should include them as long as they meet professional standards. These details show your engagement with modern methods of communicating and networking. Your professional social media profile or website can also provide additional details or resources about your career. These sites can even include recommendations from colleagues, managers or clients that explain your value. Also, ensure you look professional by using an email address comprised of your first and last name, or some variation, rather than a nickname.” – the Indeed team

Update The Design

“Another effective way to attract positive attention is to modernise your presentation. Incorporate some colour, such as a personal logo at the top or in your headings. The body text should be a readable colour, such as black, and stick to one font throughout the resumé. Use a standard font – try Calibri, Cambria or Verdana, as these options appear more modern than Times New Roman. You may also need to update some formatting, such as leaving one space between sentences instead of two. If you need inspiration, look at professional resumé template sites to learn what designs are on-trend. However, consider the employer you are applying to – a creative business will appreciate bolder choices more than a conservative one would.” – the Indeed team

Check If They Need A Cover Letter

“You‘ll often need to write a cover letter to go with your CV. This is a short letter to introduce yourself and refer to which role or post you are applying for. You can also use it to highlight your key ‘selling points’. Ideally your cover letter should only be one to two sides of A4. You should include the following:

  • a reference to which role you are applying for

  • a sentence or two about why you are interested in working for the organisation, showing that you have done some background research

  • examples of how you fulfil a few (no more than three) of the key skills or attributes that they are looking for

“Remember, the cover letter is not an additional CV, so it should only highlight it, not repeat or replace it.” – the Age UK team

Review Your Resumé Before Sending It

“Always check for typos or grammatical issues – an error-free resumé ensures you appear professional and have attention to detail. Try to have someone you trust review it to catch anything you may have missed or offer general feedback on it. As an older professional, you may want to have someone younger read it to provide advice on how to modernise the document. You will most likely submit your CV online, either via email or uploaded to a job board or company website. To ensure your formatting appears correctly, you can email a copy to yourself and check how it looks in different programs. Your best approach is to upload a PDF version, so make sure that the resumé looks as intended before submitting it.” – the Indeed team

Finally, Network, Network, Network

“Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: according to Louisa Peacock, the jobs editor at the Daily Telegraph, something like 80% of vacancies aren’t actually advertised, so it pays to put yourself out there. Look up old contacts, fire off your CV to relevant companies with a well-written covering email and follow up with a phone call. It just might pay off.” – Stewart
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