5 Résumé Tips for People Over 50

Layoffs, inflation, and the high cost of living are causing more older workers to look for jobs. Here are five ways to craft an age-friendly résumé. 

It’s a position older workers are finding themselves in more and more—having to digitally dust off their résumés and look for work.

Inflation and the high cost of living are forcing retirees back into the workplace. A new survey shows that one-quarter of retirees between the ages of 62 and 85 have returned to work, for instance, and another 12% are looking for jobs. At the same time, widespread layoffs are resulting in an increasing number of older workers seeking employment.

Age can be both a positive and negative, of course. On the one hand, employers are looking for experienced candidates with a broad skill set. On the other hand, despite laws against it, age bias is still a real issue in hiring. But David Ellis, vice president of global talent acquisition transformation at Korn Ferry, says older workers can reduce age-related prejudice and gain an advantage over other candidates with carefully crafted résumés. “Older workers have more of an opportunity in a résumé to demonstrate the use of their skills,” says Ellis.  Here are some tips on how to craft an age-friendly résumé.

Strip it down.

Korn Ferry executive coach Loretta Barr is always surprised when candidates include addresses on their résumés. “Companies don’t send out letters anymore,” she says, noting that contact is almost always made by phone or email, if not via text or social media. “Only a phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL are needed.” A statement of objectives is also outdated, as is including the year you graduated from college if it is more than 20 years ago. Only include references if the job posting specifically requests them. Excluding these items can help save space for more detailed information relevant to your skills and experience, says Barr.

Make it software-tracking friendly.

The average job posting gets between 200 and 300 applicants, so packaging your résumé in a way that stands out is important, says Ellis. He suggests exploring different résumé templates to package the most relevant material in the most digestible way. Be sure that the format you choose is easily scannable by applicant tracking systems (ATS), the software most companies use to collect and funnel résumés and match keywords around skills and experiences to the job requirements, where appropriate, to make it easier for the ATS to understand.

Tailor your experience.

Remember that a résumé is a marketing document, not a biographical one, says Korn Ferry Advance career and leadership coach Valerie Olson. You may have decades of experience, but the rule of thumb is to only include the last ten to twelve years of work history. “Recruiters are more concerned about what you’ve done recently,” says Olson, noting that how you contributed to an organization is more important than how long you worked there. Some exceptions to this rule exist—for instance, if the posting asks for 15 or more years of experience in the role, or if you’ve been working at the same company for 20 years and have gradually risen to increasingly senior positions. But in most cases, Olson says, older candidates with longer work histories can highlight them in a section called “Previous Experience” or “Relevant Experience,” mentioning just the firm name and title, and omitting dates.

Be careful what skills you list.

Recruiters and hiring managers are more interested in skills than experience nowadays, but the ones you list can be a tip-off to your suitability—or lack thereof—for the role. “You do not want to put obvious and expected skills like Microsoft Word or MS-DOS in your résumé,” says Barr. Referencing basic technology or outdated processes could be a signal that you aren’t familiar with the current digital landscape. One way to avoid this pitfall is to look at the skills the ad requests, such as CRM or AI, and include the competencies you have that match. 

Make your social-media presence known.

LinkedIn is often the first stop for recruiters and managers seeking more information about a particular candidate. Including a link to your profile is a must. Moreover, experts advise constructing your LinkedIn profile to supplement rather than mimic your résumé. Your profile could include a professional summary, for instance, or examples of your work. Recommendations from your network on your profile could serve as references. Your work experience could include more details about your accomplishments and responsibilities. Where appropriate, experts advise citing other social platforms on your résumé, such as Instagram for photographers, X for media professionals, or your own personal website that showcases your professional work. 


For more expert career advice, connect with a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.