Forty is the age when many professionals are hitting their stride and making their mark. By 40, most have nearly two decades of experience and are considered experts in their field. A resume for a seasoned professional is different from a newbie or someone climbing the ropes. If you’ve ever struggled with issues such as resume length, the proper order of content, or if you should still include a GPA on a resume, this article is for you.
Place your education section near the bottom (end) of your resume. This is because your career history is your strongest selling point. The exception would be if you were making a major career change. Let’s say you were a retail manager for twenty years who returned to school to earn a nursing degree. For those not changing careers, education should be near the end. Also, omit college clubs, honors, and GPA. One exception may be if you had an extraordinarily high GPA from a top-tier college. In most cases, GPA and clubs don’t belong on a 40+ resume.
Bottom-up Content Review
As you build experience, your resume may grow long. Some of the early experience may be off-topic. If the early experience is in your field, it may be relevant, but not significant. Examine your early history and consider removing any positions more than ten to fifteen years in the past. Of the early positions, less detail is necessary. Perhaps you have two bullets of accomplishments for your first job, then three for the next, then four, and maybe six or seven for the current position. Show less information as you go further back in time. This advice is not entirely about page length (although a two-page resume is ideal), rather it is about presenting what is most relevant.
You are the veteran and as such, it is expected that you have accomplished great things. Brainstorm for times when you enhanced products, streamlined procedures, launched new departments, and broke profit records. For every accomplishment, include measured results to underscore your success.
As a competent professional who is engaged in your community, you probably have been asked to help a local charity or civic organization. If you have two or more examples of community or civic leadership, add this information to your resume. Share your title or role, the scope of your responsibility, and major achievements. Or, you may simply list: “Title, Organization, Years.” This provides another example of your skills and is particularly helpful if you are trying to transition into a higher leadership position in your career.
The Bottom Line
Update your resume at least once a year. As you gain experience, modify your resume-writing strategy, so your resume is optimal for your career stage. An over 40 and fierce resume should tout your recent career achievements, your expertise, and your status as a leader and mentor.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.