Resumes for the over 50

I want to set the record straight on exactly how resumes for the over 50 need to be written. I know there are hundreds if not thousands of articles, books, and YouTube videos on resume writing and writing resumes for the over 50.

These range from how it should look, to what format works best, to what buzzwords you should (or should not use) to several other cookie-cutter old-school “must haves”.

While these all have merit and some good advice, I want to illustrate what a resume really should be all about, and what its main purpose is, which is, getting the hiring manager or recruiter to call.

Resumes for The Over 50, A Winning Formula

At the end of the day, no one resume fits all. If you are in the creative world (like Marketing and Advertising or Publishing), your resume is going to be structured one way.

If you’re in the arts world (like acting, theater or creating/ working with works of art and galleries), your resume is going to be more like a portfolio, contain professional photos of you and list your credits.

If you’re in the corporate business world, then your resume is going to be structured more on the lines of traditional formats, but being over 50, your use of keywords, phrases, and how you present yourself and your experience will be different and will need wording and a format that helps you stand out from the crowd.

There are also many great professional resume services that you can utilize if time is not in your favor.

Is it easy to create a resume?

In its basic form…Yes!

A resume is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education and is closely related to a similar document, the curriculum vitae (CV) which focuses more on education, publications, and other accomplishments.

What people fail to understand is that your resume or CV is often the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding you, the job seeker.

If you do not place a large amount of effort or importance in writing it and do not give it your max effort when writing it during its construction, is like failing to market your unique skills, your accomplishments, and experiences, and the value that you bring to the table. Just listing past jobs and roles you are failing to take advantage of a huge opportunity that others just overlook.

If you are just creating a cookie-cutter cut and paste resume from perhaps a “free” template that you found online, then your resume will look like all the others (and that could number in the thousands for some jobs) – chances are, they are also using the same “template”

REMEMBER — your resume is your key to unlocking that door and your fifteen minutes of fame!

Take this onetime opportunity to “stand-out in the crowd”…and make them want to interview you!!! 

First impressions are key and important

You will never get a second first impression, so make it count and work for you. If you fail to capture the reader, you will fail to stand out and get the recruiter, hiring manager, or potential employer thinking of the future with you in it.

It’s so important to write separate resumes for EACH opportunity that you are going to apply for.

You can “borrow” certain industry or trade buzzwords or particular phrases from each, but unless the opportunities are a 100% match, with NO differences (which is rare in today’s job market), write each resume aimed at THAT particular opportunity, customized for THAT particular employer, and THAT particular vacancy/ need.

Show your successes, your accomplishments…and how you improved positions that you held in the past. It’s okay to emphasize and draw attention to items, but DO NOT go overboard and “brag”.  That is a sure turnoff.  Use powerful “action” words like Aligned, Cultivated, Directed, Enabled, Facilitated or Improved.

There are many others, but these such give you an idea of what to strive for when using powerful words.

Too many people use weak phrases such as “I am a Go-getter”, “I am hungry for success” or “I am a self-starter”. These are all weak action phrases and are classic examples of how some candidates try to use resume buzzwords to make their experience sound more impressive.

They must see you as an asset, an answer to a problem they are trying to solve, or you will not get called for the interview.  Again, use “action” words that should accomplishments, not catch phrases that are pulled from online templates that are used by thousands of others and may have been around for ages.

What is your value proposition?

Do you know what a value proposition is?

Simply put a value proposition refers to the value a person brings to customers or a company they are interviewing with and why they should choose you over someone else.

It makes you stand out and above the crowded field of competition.

In short, it’s:

  • The “been there…done that” voice and flair
  • A certain “pizzazz” our age group’s knowledge, maturity and confidence brings to the table
  • Supported by a depth of useful skills (both technical and interpersonal) that our experiences afford us…this is where we separate ourselves from others
  • We all get better with age, and that is nothing to be afraid of or hide, so let me teach you how to leverage our life’s experiences — and deliver a more rewarding outcome

In business, a value proposition is a short brief overview of why someone should do business with your company. Using this same mindset in a job search, you illustrate why a prospective employer would want to hire you over any other candidates.

YOU become the product or service – not a business. Instead of promoting the virtues of a business, you are promoting your skills, your accomplishments and validating why you will be the best solution.

Your unique value proposition can be your age…especially if you are applying for a role that requires deep experience and specialized knowledge.  That type of knowledge that ONLY comes from years of hands-on doing, and not book or studied theory that many younger, less experienced competition may have.

Age brings EXPERIENCE, MATURITY, and EXPOSURE to situations many younger candidates lack. It also helps build leadership skills, problem-solving traits, and the all-important been there done that life experience — Exploit that…DO NOT HIDE IT!!!

Highlight your experience in a way that adds value

Those of us who are over 50, we face the additional challenge that comes with age. We will be interviewed by managers who are younger, less experienced and perhaps fearful of us…that fear comes from their lack of experience and maturity.

They may fear that we are after their job…Chances are that they will not recognize the value we can add to their team. We need to show how we can be a “trusted adviser” to them and not an adversary.

Know your audience and what their pain points are…and address and highlight that in your resume. You should write a “targeted” resume that will address those pain points. That means you’ll write a resume perhaps for each job you apply for; is that extra work, sure, but it will show the reader that you took the time to address their unique needs.

We all get better with age, and that is nothing to be afraid of or hide, so let me teach you how to leverage our life’s experiences — and deliver a more rewarding outcome.

Make your age and experience work for you, not against you

Don’t focus too much on your chronological history. While you must discuss what you’ve done in your career and education, it is a much better self-marketing technique to focus on the future, and how you will become a valuable asset to the employer.

It is ALWAYS better to have the perspective employer focus on your achievements or special and unique skills and how those acquired skills and experiences can help you become an asset and possibly help solve a staffing issue, rather than just a listing of your past chronological history of employment and job descriptions.

To Review Once More…Use strong action words

Try to use Attention-Grabbing action words to describe your responsibilities. Stay away from using the word “duties”. Instead, use the word “responsibilities” which conveys a feeling of ownership, the word duties almost always implies tasks performed, rather than items you have control and ownership over.

While there is nothing wrong with emphasizing your accomplishments, this does not mean you should overly exaggerate to the point of lying and will surely get your resume tossed in the garbage and perhaps get you blacklisted by recruiters. They will see you as a poor, low-quality candidate they will not want to represent you…and that will only further put you out of the game!

Once your reputation is lost, you will never get it back

Lastly, do not forget to include an objective. An objective is used to illustrate your career goals. The resume objective statement that is normally placed after your name, educational qualifications, and contact details.

It gives the employer or recruiter a sense of who you are, and what your aspirations are in your career.

For those of us over 50, it’s also an opportunity to answer that, “why would you want this position?” or “You are overqualified”. An objective is NOT outdated and is NOT a waste of space once you master writing it.

REMEMBER — it’s your key to unlocking that door and your fifteen minutes of fame!

Stand out in the crowd and make them want to interview you!

Amazon has many amazing books, programs, and training materials that you can use in your job search – here are some tremendous materials and additional resources available to you at Amazon!


We all can use a professional helping hand, and if you’re looking for a leading experienced professional resume writing service, then you will be in good hands with TopResume’s professional writers. Their team of writers has expertise in more than 65 industries and includes certified career coaches, recruiters, and experienced hiring professionals.

Is there something specific I can help you with?

This site’s success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors to open.

I invite you all to share your stories of challenge and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped – so please add your comment or insight!

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2 thoughts on “Resumes for the over 50”

  1. This article was a god send that I ran across it as I am in the process of needing to update my resume after almost 10 years and it seems like job market environment has totally changed since then. This article really helped me get some much needed pointers and put me in the right direction to crank out a great resume to use in upcoming job interviews!


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