What should I include in my resume – and what can I safely leave out?? How far back does my resume have to go?? What can I do to stand out against younger competition? In my eyes: first of all, stay calm and approach writing with confidence – because you have so much valuable experience to offer and you don’t have to hide at all! I tell you what matters for life connoisseurs and you can directly download my proven "Resume from 50 template" for free.
How do I present my work experience in the right light??
You have a lot to offer! Put your advantages out there
"You must be happy if you find a job at all. Please do not have high expectations." How I hate this sentence and the hopelessness and pre-judgement associated with it! I am convinced that employees over 50 hold even more treasures than the generally known "professional experience" for companies and contribute decisively to becoming and remaining successful and competitive in the long term.
What advantages do you pull out of your treasure chest, if they let you??
- You have composure and keep a cool head even when things are burning: isn’t that great for big crises and also small problems of everyday life?
- A lower fluctuation: if everything fits, the company is sure: you will remain loyal and reliable until the end, because you are looking for a long-term partnership.
- You are ready to take on responsibility from the very first minute – with everything that goes with it and you also do the unpopular tasks that have to be done.
- You are a great mentor for younger colleagues – they benefit immensely from your wealth of experience and vision.
- You are the true feelgood manager and happiness officer, because thanks to your trustworthy charisma and your open ear, colleagues gladly confide in you and feel understood.
- No stepping stone alarm: your superiors can rely on the fact that you don’t just want to climb the next and again the next career level, but stay in the position for the long term and are satisfied with it.
- What is a power struggle or catfight? You want to make a valuable contribution and simply do a good job, leave all this stressful probing and "marking territory" to the younger ones.
- The weekend was again humid-happy? Even then you are reliable on Monday morning, because "Monday sickness" does not occur in your work ethic and your demands on yourself.
- You have learned your profession from the bottom up and know in your sleep what it is all about. You are a specialist in your field and therefore a dying species on the job market.
- Your family planning is done and you can fully focus on making another good start. (Pssssst, don’t tell that to the 35-year-old recruiter who’s just curing her sixth daycare sniffle of the season.).
What skills should I focus on?
Simplified: List exactly what is relevant and beneficial to the job and the company. In a good complete application belongs a good mix of
- Work experience
- Project experience
- Education and training
- personal skills
- social skills
- Strategic competencies
- Life experience (I have introduced this term. Meaning your own huge package of what you have recognized and learned in the course of your life.)
In our fast-paced working world, these personal and social skills (soft skills) are especially important:
- Personal responsibility
- Ability to learn
- digital competence
- Networked and collaborative nature
- Sense of what is necessary
- Resilience and self-care
By the way, I know from working with my clients and many conversations with (50+-friendly) business owners and HR professionals that you have just that – and not in short supply.
The ability to build and maintain networks and to communicate and collaborate with a wide variety of people – regardless of age, background, education level, hierarchy – is also something I find particularly important.
Are you toying with the idea of learning something completely new? These jobs are particularly future-proof and in high demand. Because it is these professional skills (hard skills) that recruiters were looking for most frequently in Germany in 2020 (according to a study by LinkedIn Learning):
- Analytical thinking
- Business Analysis
- Affiliate Marketing
- Artificial Intelligence
- Foreign languages
- industrial design
- Data Science
- Corporate Communications
And how many skills should I mention? Below you will find my proven "Resume from 50 template" for direct download. There you can see directly how many competences you should indicate from each field – and you can orientate yourself by it. However, please be sure to vary them and adapt them to your personal needs – and don’t leave my sample text in there!
How far should the testimonials go into the past??
It depends on the type of job, on how many employers you have had in total,
Rule of thumb: approximately 3 references/interim references and 3 further training courses/certificates from the last 10 to a maximum of 15 years.
Of course, the highest grades of study or. Training certificates additionally with purely.
Here’s the rule: anything that’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for stays out!
Another, so far little used possibility, are informal letters of reference. Especially if you haven’t received an interim report for a long time or are not satisfied with it, this is a chance to do so. Also for freelancers, to conjure up more "credibility" in your documents.
My tip: Ask your employer for an interim report every 2 years – even without a special reason. You should always ask for a reference when taking on additional tasks, more responsibility, major further training, changes of department, changes of supervisor and overall operational changes. If one is not to your satisfaction, you can simply leave it out of your application – without risking a large gap.
What can I leave out?
Anything that just unnecessarily inflates, isn’t relevant to the job, or doesn’t highlight you brilliantly.
You can safely delete this:
- Outdated references (older than 15 years)
- School reports really don’t matter anymore
- Memberships (except relevant, z.B. a party membership, if you’re applying to politics)
- former honorary posts and leisure activities
- long descriptions of older career stages (it is sufficient if you briefly mention or summarize them with the job title and the time period)
- reasons for any job changes or reasons for quitting (stand confidently by your decisions and what you have experienced)
- Religion (unless you’re applying for a tendentious job or similar)
- Hobbies (unless they are interesting and round off your profile)
- the "page 3" or another letter of motivation
Controversial: should I hide my date of birth??
You see: this question polarizes. In my eyes, however, honesty is always best.
My advice to you: Be proud of the professional and life experience you have gained with your increasing age and report on your insights and learnings with conviction.
If the company or the recruiting software they use actually weeds out anything older than 50, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Because in the interview or at the latest when you hand in your personnel sheet, it will come out anyway.
There are even recruiters who are suspicious if you don’t tell them your age – with the consequence that you will be sorted out.
Subscribe to my Job Happiness Impulses. Be the first to get updates, tips and info about applying for jobs and job satisfaction – and find out when another free application webinar for job seekers over 50 will be held.
S.O.S.! What are the pitfalls for me as a 50+ applicant??
How do I deal with gaps and "difficult situations"??
First: please relax.
Stand by your "humanity" and speak openly and honestly about your motives and gladly forgetful errors and possible mistakes. Trust that the right people won’t judge you, but will even admire your courage – and possibly be inspired by your experiences.
- Enthuse with your advantages, so that the "disadvantages" automatically fall away. How to? Write a particularly catchy short profile tailored to the company (expertise in the resume) or submit a solution proposal for a current problem of the company.
- You are a Personality with a great wealth of experience: tell what you learned from it and how and why it shaped you. Hiring managers are also only human and, with a little luck, can identify with your honest story.
- Steer away from awkward stations (by listing them further down and they don’t catch your eye at first glance) or fill them with activity. Did you have an interesting sideline job?? Further education made? Started your own podcast?
- Rely on your network and "pre-warmed" contacts. People who know you and like you don’t judge you by the facts and figures on your resume. They are inherently more gracious and look for your benefits.
- Create your dream job yourself and get it proactively. Why should you only wait for your desired position to be advertised?? Convince the company that they desperately need you in this new position and how you will establish it there!
What common mistakes do people over 50 make – and how can you avoid them??
These fatal mistakes could cost you your longed-for interview invitation:
- Waking sleeping dogs!
- You think you have to justify dropping out of your studies 20 years ago? Possibly the personnel manager would not even have noticed that the diploma is missing – and he would have positively credited the three years of study.
- Instead: Do everything you can to invalidate sickly, inflexible, leadership resistant.
- For example, you should never report an internal conflict with digitization officers who wanted to eliminate your paper files.
- "I want to know again."
- "I feel ready to go again after being sick for so long."
- "My French skills are rusty."
- "My younger supervisor could not lead."
- Through what? By applying to "worse" jobs without a plausible explanation and signaling too much willingness to compromise.
- "Thanks to my 30 years of experience in controlling…" yeah, that sounds pretty old, doesn’t it??
- Specifically, list other important advantages. Feel free to use my list above of in-demand skills as a guide.
- The company is in payment difficulties? Then it will be difficult for you to score with new investment ideas.
- Of course you are worth your current salary and have worked hard to earn it over time. But for your desired business, the bar is always your own internal structure.
There are a number of pitfalls lurking in the application process for those who know life well. That’s why I’ve dedicated an entire 45-minute video to the topic. There we will intensively search for mistakes and of course I will also show you how to avoid these mistakes in the future. Feel free to watch the video directly:
Small technical tricks – and what you should keep in mind online
Important tips for your online application
Many companies only accept applications via their own online portal. Even if the job posting additionally allows other entry channels for your applications, applications via the portal are preferred. Plus, by filling it out yourself, you’re making sure the information is captured correctly.
Even the recruiting robot (AI) likes that:
- Required fields, especially "must fields" are filled in
- Relevant keywords have been included (Pick up keywords from the job advertisement). Use it as often as possible, but please without sounding like a keyword generator – both in the resume and in the cover letter or cover page.)
- clearly formatted and divided into common sections (see my "resume over 50 template")
- A legible font
Your documents and all attachments should:
- be converted into PDF format
- be clearly and meaningfully named (gladly put everything in one document or one for the application and another for the references/certificates)
- not be larger than 2 MB
- have the virus check behind it
How to convince in your application by e-mail
Your e-mail cover text should offer added value – and not just consist of a cover letter copied into it – and sound invitingly positive.
This way you make the recruiter’s job easier and generate sympathy already in your email:
- Research the right recipient and the correct address (what is the name of the department?)?)
- A clear subject, preferably with a reference character, facilitates distribution
- A serious e-mail address with your name (please not "SchwarzeHexe77" or "Toller-Jo_Berlin") looks professional. I recommend
- Formulate in a motivated, crisp and clear way
- A signature with your most important details, especially your phone number, where you can really be reached during the day, makes it more likely that you will pick up the phone (and that you will be reached)
For the attached documents, the same recommendations as above apply.
Should I sign – and if so, how do I get my signature into the application??
All-clear: You will not be sorted out if the signature is missing. Even if your signature has no legal relevance, it underlines your credibility and is again one of those small points, which together make a good overall impression.
My tip: Just sign on a white sheet of paper, scan it and put it as a picture in your cover letter (if necessary. you can still play with the brightness and contrast, so that no ugly borders or backgrounds are to be seen). Ideally use a dark blue ballpoint pen or fountain pen.
In some programs, such as Adobe Acrobat, you can now also insert your digital signature.
We are digital and social! Show your well-kept profiles on LinkedIn and XING
Companies search the Internet for potential employees – and they screen applicants. This means that you can once again stand out positively with well-maintained and active profiles.
Make sure that you highlight your most important competencies and areas with which you want to be found.
A pleasant side effect: You also dispel the prejudice that you are "digitally rusty and have nothing to do with modern media"!