On your first job interview in years, you wouldn't wear a suit that went out of style during the Clinton administration.
But when it comes to resumes, people don't think twice about presenting themselves to prospective employers in a format that screams "outdated."
Job hunting has changed, and that includes the type of resume that midlife job seekers should use to put their best foot forward.
Forget creating a one-size-fits-all document stuffed with descriptions of bygone jobs and patterned after something you found online. It won't set you apart from the dozens -- or hundreds -- of other applicants for a position, according to professional resume writers and recruiters.
A resume has to summarize your skills, achievements and work history. But it also should look good and impart your personal brand -- the approach you take to getting work done that distinguishes you from the crowd, says Laura Smith-Proulx, a corporate recruiter-turned-resume writer whose work has won professional awards. Ask yourself the right questions and "you come up with all kinds of values you wouldn't normally think of using on a resume," she says.
Here's how to create a resume that's personal, engaging and fresh:
1. Before doing anything, think about what makes you special.Pinpoint how you've made a difference in your previous jobs. To do that, Smith-Proulx suggests asking yourself, "How was my department or company better because I worked there?" Maybe when you train other people they grasp the material the first time, or you saved the company money by being a morale booster. Whatever qualities allow you to achieve better results than your peers, even though you do the same work, that's what to put in your resume, she says.
2. Summarize.Starting a resume with a one-line career objective is passé. Instead, when you've come up with your "it" factor, create a headline that captures it, and run it at the top. Follow that with descriptions of your most important career achievements and skills, and summarize everything else.
3. Include social media contact information.Since so many companies use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to prospect for job candidates, it's imperative to have an account on at least one of those networks. Then include your user name along with your address, phone number and other contact information. If you're OK with receiving texts from recruiters or hiring managers, include that number, too.
4. Stick to one page.A resume is a summary, not a laundry list of every position you've ever held. If you've been in the work force 15 years or longer, focus on major accomplishments and use bullet points to summarize other positions. If you absolutely cannot be that concise, use the entire second page; a few lines dribbling onto that extra page makes it look like an afterthought, says Keith Feinberg with Robert Half International, a well-known staffing and placement firm.
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