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Effective Resumes for Boomers

By Phyllis Mufson

What do you want your resume to say about you?

Do you want your resume to give the impression that your outlook is stuck in your Disco Fever years? That you're behind the times with outdated skills and attitudes?

Or do you want your resume to say to an employer, "My depth of experience and up-to-date skills make me the best person to solve your problems."

Then, you need to give your resume a 2015 update.

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Update Your Resume to Catch Up (and Impress)

More than just the passage of time has altered resumes. Resumes have transformed in response to sweeping technological and economic changes that have altered how job searches must be conducted to be successful.

  • Competition has increased. Online job searches through job boards and employer career pages make it easier for people to apply to many more jobs – and they do. The average job posting receives more than 250 responses.
  • Employers have responded to the sheer volume of responses by employing Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan resumes for relevant experience through key words and to eliminate candidates with more years of experience than required for the position.
  • Recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly reviewing resumes on their mobile phones.

If you don't keep up with these changes, you'll be ignored -- particularly in online job search. The human resources director of a Fortune 1000 company recently told me that 87% of resumes are discarded before they are even seen by a person because they are rejected by the ATS or the applicant did not follow directions exactly.

[More: Understanding Keywords and 5 Ways You Look Out-of-Date in Your Job Search.]

Effective Resumes Have Evolved to Meet the New Requirements

Resume styles change. Just like fashion styles, resumes evolve over time.

Resumes have moved on from documents that catalog all positions, responsibilities, experience, and credentials throughout your career.

Now resumes are marketing pieces that highlight your achievements, and each resume is customized for each job and optimized for the ATS.

How to Customize and Optimize Your Resume for Today's Requirements

I recommend keeping a master resume that includes your experience throughout your career. You can begin a master resume on your computer by compiling the information from all of past resumes.

For each opportunity:

  • Carefully read the job description
  • Add the most closely-related experience (matching the job descriptions requirements) from your master resume.
  • "Optimize" the resume by incorporating appropriate key words, concentrating them in the profile, core competencies, and professional experience sections.

You can copy keywords directly from the job description. The skills that they list as "required" are excellent to incorporate.

[More: Resume Keyword Success Secrets.]

Put Word Clouds to Work for You

Test using "word cloud" software such as Wordle.net or TagCrowd.com. These programs take the text of a job description and create a visual graphic where the most important words are the largest. Word clouds allow you to see the most important keywords in the job descriptions at a glance.

Then, before you submit your resume, run it through the word cloud software to see how the most important keywords compare and match the job description's word cloud.

This sounds complicated but will only take a few minutes once you get started.

Is Investing the Time and Effort Worth It?

Writing a strong resume takes time, and you may be tempted to avoid the effort.

What's the alternative? For most people, it involves sending out hundreds of resumes with little or no response -- a great deal of effort for minimal return and too much rejection.

Instead, get started by breaking down these suggestions, and following them step-by-step. If you continue having difficulties, get help. You can find certified resume writers through their professional associations. Always check references!

In addition career counselors, coaches, and other career professionals can help you write your resume and also help you hone your job search skills and strategies.

If money is an issue local career-related nonprofit organizations will assist you on a sliding scale. In addition if you are a college graduate, check with your college career center. Many now offer free, lifetime career services.

Is the result worth all this effort? You can bet your go-go boots!

My next article will provide step-by-step how-to directions to help you to customize your resume to the requirements of today's job market.

More About Resumes, Keywords, and Boomer Job Search


About the author...

Phyllis Mufson is a career / business consultant and a certified life coach with over 25 years of experience. She has helped hundreds of clients successfully navigate career transitions. You can learn more about Phyllis and her practice at PhyllisMufson and follow Phyllis on Twitter @PhyllisMufson and Google+.


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Guide to Job Search for Boomers & Those Over 50:

Over 50 / Boomer Job Search Concerns:


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Figuring Out What's Next for Over 50 / Boomers:

Developing Your Personal Success Plan for Over 50 / Boomers:

Making Your Best Impression for Over 50 / Boomers:

Over 50 / Boomer Career Pioneers:

Over 50 / Boomer Career Change:

Additional Resources:


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