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"I Haven't Updated My Resume in 20 years!" YIKES! by Janis Murray

Recently, I have enjoyed the company of new clients in their 40’s and mid 50’s.  These are highly accomplished individuals who, in some cases, have served the same company for 20 to 30 years.  Now, they face being “downsized”, or seek a full career change by choice. With as much as 20 more years of career ahead of them, they are pursuing new employment – a befuddling task that can be frankly, downright scary.

“I haven’t updated my resume in 20 years!” is what I hear most, while the two elephants in the room are age and the fear that they will not be technologically savvy enough to compete with younger applicants.  First, one must face the negative energy of fear and transform it to positive efforts.  Focus on your quantifiable accomplishments that will be valuable to the next employer.  Your past employer was paying you for something.  What was it?  If the answer is, “I ship freight,” then ask yourself how, to what places, in what ways?  What makes you good at that?  Simply, put pen to paper and brag . . . a lot.  Remember specific situations when you pulled off something good that would not have happened without you.  Did you save the company money?  Find a more efficient vendor or streamline an inefficient system?  Did you lead a team? Educate others? Prevent an emergency? Negotiate an important contract?

This process not only develops vital positive points for your new resume, it also helps get the anger out.  Just blab longhand, and don’t worry about the writing yet. Bragging at this point is good. Allow yourself to feel good about who you are and what you have accomplished and get it down on paper or tablet.  

Then, ask your wife, your brother/sister, in-laws, and friends . . . any significant individuals in your life . . . what they like about you, what qualities they value that you have. Do this gently within the context of a natural gathering, dinner, or coffee meeting and they may surprise and uplift you with their observations.  At the very least, such thoughts will give you an idea of how others see you, helpful information for molding your new image going forward.  If comments are negative or questionable, put these on a separate page for consideration alone. They may bring up important ways you can improve, but do not involve your resume update right now.  Only positive information goes there. 

Then, your qualities and accomplishments can be grouped under headings like a Summary of who you are as a professional, your Areas of Expertise and your Achievement Highlights followed then by your Experience, the necessary listing of companies you have worked for, the dates, and what your responsibilities were with bullet points explaining how you fulfilled them.  Education history will follow, and yes, your IT Proficiencies will count. Days while job hunting present the perfect opportunity to update these tech skills, if needed, with a course we will list on the new resume to show recent effort.  Brevity is important so don’t let one dangling word take up a whole line. Wasteful! A message you do not want a potential new employer to see possibly planting the doubt, “Will he/she be wasteful with our resources then???” Format, font choice and size need to be current, eye catching and appropriate to your profession with an effective mix of bolding and italics throughout.  

Remember, ideally a resume is one power packed page.  It can be 2, 3 or even 4 if you’re over 40 and highly accomplished.  For doctors, the required Curriculum Vitae including all the format required publication footnotes can be as long as 5 – 7 complicated pages.  These are useful guidelines within the understanding that each individual is different so there are exceptions.  Depending on your budget, a resume can be greatly enhanced and worded by a communication professional with years of experience developing resumes that sell. Such an outside, non-aligned and trained eye, who views you as employers might, can be vital. Before such a meeting, compile everything you think important.  More is always better than less.  A good communication pro can edit anything. Cutting is always possible, but nobody can dream up the positive details of a life from nothing, nor should they.  That requires guessing or fabricating.  The former is risky, the latter just unethical.  

So first, it’s the brass tacks information explaining what you bring to the table in detail that will count most.  Developing such feels good, is productive and gets you through any negativity to where you need to be . . . engulfed in the positive points of your past that will propel you into your productive future.  Those years are inevitably coming, so promise yourself that, no matter what, you will not disappear into that great mass of the unemployed not even trying anymore.  There are no answers in the disgruntled, time wasting watching of the pabulum of daytime TV, allowing yourself to succumb to the sour, endless wondering of “why me?” or “why not me?” Misdirected  energy. Not allowed. Goes nowhere.  And you are not nowhere. You simply have a new resume to write to move your future forward.

All in all, any resume has one job . . . to Grab their Attention and Keep it . . . with positive, truthful, provable information about you as a professional.  That’s it.             Start writing!

Copyright 2017 by J. S. Murray. All Rights Reserved. No reprint without written permission

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