There is no ‘join the dots’ formula for writing a resumé. You need to take into account the industry, the type and seniority of the position, and any application form or job criteria for each job. Experts debate how many pages, whether to include names of referees and even if it’s ‘CV’ or ‘resumé’. Here are a few overall comments that might be helpful:

Tailor your resumé to each application. Write a one-page summary which draws out the achievements, experiences and skills that most closely match that job description. Include a brief profile of who you are and a very brief career history.

Give some thought to how you present your work experience…lying is never appropriate or clever, but if you don’t present yourself with your best foot forward, you won’t even make it to an interview.

Focus on achievements, strengths and successes, not a chronological list of job descriptions & duties. You have maybe 30 seconds to grab the reader’s attention, so make sure you emphasise recent successes – unless that job you did 15 years ago has a compelling relevance, the barest information about it is enough.

Think about the skills you have developed over all those years of work. There will be plenty – and evidence is emerging that employers are rediscovering the value of experience. be as specific as you can, say ‘Mentored 7 staff members over 2 years’ not ‘helped people’.

Use active verbs, ‘solving’ ‘managing’ ‘facilitating’ and the like, and language that is as specific as possible: how many staff? What kind of project? What exactly did you do? ‘Managed over 1,000 accounts receivable and payable accounts, liaising directly with the Chief Financial Officer’ not ‘Maintained accounts receivable and accounts payable system’.

Use a simple clean font such as Arial or Helvetica. Unless you are a talented designer AND going for a job in that industry, don’t be cute – no fancy covers, multiple fonts or colours!

If there are job criteria or a duties statement in the ad, address these in your application, item by item. Don’t just paraphrase the descriptions, but give a real example of how you have used the skill.

Don’t put anything under interests unless it is relevant to the job or you can wax lyrical about it on demand.

For more job-hunting tips for people over 50, check out this blog post


Joanna Maxwell


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