Résumé Revamp: How To Age-Proof Your Professional Profile
By Kate Silver | June 18, 2020
Employers are laying off workers and cutting hours as COVID-19 leaves its mark on the country and the economy. While we don't yet know the full impact, it's clear that in coming weeks and months, many people will be applying for new jobs - some of whom have been out of the job-seeking arena for decades.
To help prepare them, we talked with Cheryl Lynch Simpson, who is a certified master résumé writer, as well as a career, job search, LinkedIn and interviewing coach, about what job-seekers should consider when updating their résumés in today's online world.
Simpson says that to craft a résumé that resonates, it must include keywords, branding and for anyone who is age 40 and up, age-proofing. Whether you're looking for a new job, dusting off your LinkedIn profile or considering hiring a résumé writer to help you in your job search, Simpson shared these modern résumé-writing secrets professional résumé writers know.
1. Choose your words wisely.
Applicant tracking systems hone in on keywords the employer is looking for. Simpson says that keywords can include nearly any combination of skills, amounts of experience, credentials, locations, specific types of experience, achievements or industries. One place to start is by tailoring your résumé specifically to the job listing itself. "Job seekers are more likely to be selected for an interview if their résumé contains eight to 15 or so of the most important keywords in a job posting," says Simpson.
2. Determine your brand.
To stand out amid other applicants, it helps to come up with a theme or story that defines you as a brand. Simpson helps clients look for something called a "Why-Buy-ROI," in order to define why they should be hired over someone else and what return on investment (ROI) they offer the business. "What I often say to people when I'm reviewing their résumé is, 'Look, this summary has nice words in it, but the problem is everybody applying for that same role is probably going to say somewhat similar things. So how is it setting you apart?'" She says a good résumé writer knows how to coax a narrative from a person's work and achievement histories, and wordsmiths it to shine.
3. Age-proof your résumé.
Just as too little experience can get an applicant screened by an applicant tracking system, so can too much experience. Simpson says that if a posting states the job requires 10 to 12 years of experience, then the résumé should organize the job history to highlight 10 to 12 years - even if the applicant has two decades of experience in the area. "If they have 20 years of experience, but we only want to portray 10 of it, I'm going to look for some sort of break, like when they switched jobs or roles, where I can draw a line after that experience," she says. Those simple formatting tweaks can help applicants get through the algorithm and closer to an interview, where they can speak more candidly.
If you're feeling a bit lost right now, and you have the means, Simpson encourages you to enlist a professional who may be able to help you crack the code much more swiftly than you could do on your own. "By the time an individual working, with a life, figures all that out, years have gone by and they've missed out on career opportunities," she says.
Strapped for cash? There are also several excellent free tools at your disposal. In addition to the Resources page on Simpson's own blog, she recommends checking out TheCareerExperts.com and CareerDirectors.com. They offer a wealth of articles (the former) and blog posts (the latter), written by career experts, all for free."
Kate Silver is a Gen X writer living in Chicago. Her work regularly appears in Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and on her own website, www.thekatesilver.com.