How should you write your resume if you’re over 50?

You might be tempted to add your last position to an already outdated resume.

Instead, emphasize your fit in a top leadership job – concentrating on your qualifications and work style in order to refocus employer attention on your relevant skills.

Use these age-proof tips to create a fresh resume strategy and presentation for your over-50 job search:


1 – Build your career story according to your goal.

Instead of focusing on past work history, employ forward thinking and write about your qualifications and readiness for your target job.

By focusing on your current level and personal brand, you’ll be better able to summarize the value you bring to the table (instead of your age as an over-50 job seeker). Answer these questions as a starting point:

  • What level are you pursuing? Are you in the market for a C-suite job, Board appointment, or VP role?
  • What is prompting you to seek this job? What do you offer employers at this level?
  • Why should companies consider you as a valuable leader and mentor?
  • How will you add value in this role?

By clarifying your intention, you’re more likely to gain attention for the right job. As an added bonus, you can use your answers in your resume qualifications summary.


2 – Check your goal against job market realities.

executive resume writing job market factsDon’t build your resume and job goals in a vacuum.

Instead, talk with recruiters and trusted contacts in your network to gauge the right target job level aligned with your skills.

 Stay on top of happenings in your field, including potential hiring trends, by subscribing to industry news or joining trade associations. Contact private equity or investor firms to determine who they’re likely to hire.

Further clarify your goal by reviewing job postings or LinkedIn profiles of competing executives at your level – which will help you gain insight on your marketability and competitive value. You can also review job postings to compare your skills against employer requirements.

If needed, adjust your career goal in light of your findings. Your resume (and job search) should be tuned for the right level the first time.


3 – Focus on achievements directly aligned with the job you’re pursuing.

The key to a successful over-50 resume? Get close to your own personal brand by interviewing yourself! Answer these questions against the goal you defined in Step #1:

  • Which of your achievements align to the career goal you’ve defined?
  • What strategies do you use to influence decisions, motivate teams, or secure new business?
  • What are the peak cost savings, revenue, operational efficiencies, profit, or sales wins of your career?
  • Name the skills and business capabilities you’ve demonstrated most often as a leader.

Now, write short success-story bullets for each major career accomplishment – sticking to the major wins that most closely match the jobs you want, and incorporate these statements into your resume.


4 – Build an age-appropriate strategy for your over-50 resume.

executive resume work historyHow far back should your work history go?

Many resume guides point to 10-15 years, but you’ll also need to be realistic. Most employers expect an executive to possess decades of experience! You need to assess which of your past jobs are relevant.

For example, a CIO might find that earlier IT Manager positions should be listed on the resume, but not junior-level software development jobs. A VP of Operations could show roles dating back to Plant Analyst.

The key, of course, is to put just enough data in front of recruiters without CONCENTRATING on your age.

Don’t forget your Education section. A degree earned 15 years ago is probably relevant, but many college programs lose relevancy after that point. Therefore, you’ll want to drop dates off your degrees as you climb further up the corporate ladder.


5 – Refresh your resume presentation for a modern, yet classic look.

CEO, President, & COO Resume by Laura Smith-ProulxNo matter if you fit the over-50 category or not, many resumes now employ a mix of graphics and other visual elements – and you’ll want to modernize the look of your resume in order to stand out.

By adding even a splash of color or a different border to your resume, you’ll help recruiters distinguish your credentials from others.

Use executive resume samples (keeping in mind that many of these examples were created for candidates of your age and career level) to gain more ideas for a fresh new visual approach.


In short, it’s not the 1990’s anymore!

By choosing your words, messaging, format, and strategy carefully, your over-50 resume can compete as a strong contender in the race for a leadership job.