Career Advice

Changing Careers? Must-Know Tips On Customizing Your Resume & Taking Advantage Of LinkedIn

Resume writing has always been fraught with difficulty. It can be tough to be objective and positive about your skills when you’re looking for a job, especially if your current workplace has a toxic culture or, worse, if you’re out of work.

Problems multiply for older workers. While many career coaches focus on Gen X and Y – the majority of whom have scant work experience – the people most in need of advice, IMO, are pre-Millenials and baby boomers – anyone who’s been in the workforce for more than 15 years.

You’d think experienced workers would have lots of resources and connections, but they are battling several negatives:

  • Age – Let’s face it, we live in an ageist culture. No one will say this, but it’s a fact. Grey hair and beards are a no-no in certain workplace cultures. Visible body hair is icky while tattoos are fine. More experience = higher salary expectations. All of these details can play into this equation.
  • Less experience with social media as a job search tool – Monster started the change but LinkedIn has cemented it. Social profiles are now an essential job search tool.  Resumes are only as valuable as your social profile. More on that later.
  • A tendency to see a career as a linear progression of positions, assignments and accomplishments: It used to matter that your career showed a steady upward progression, that you stayed in a job 5+ years, that you could list all the things you’d learned and done at each job and show personal and professional  growth. Now, not so much.

So what to do in this shallow new world where good jobs are few and far between?

  • Adopt LinkedIn and social media: As Mark Babbitt notes on 12 Most (see #9), lack of a social media presence labels one as old. The recruiter’s first tool is Google. If you don’t show up on a Google search, you won’t get the first phone call.
  • Rethink the resume: Babbitt has good advice here as well (I love #1 on typefaces), but resume issues go deeper. A real deal breaker is the Objective Statement – too passé for words. Make things easy on yourself and build a social profile first, then align your resume with that – much more efficient.
  • When you revise your resume, try not to list everything in precise order – instead think about how your skills match a job’s requirements and play up those angles.
  • Learn how to really use LinkedIn. Check out the great how-tos here and here. Simply posting a social profile isn’t enough; you need to constantly update your presence to take advantage of the platform.
  • Investigate LinkedIn Everywhere, the new job application app. And while you’re at it, check out Google+.

Today job hunting is more about what you can do for an employer, and less about who you are and the skills you bring. Obviously you still need skills, and you still have to be a genuine person with a great work ethic, but that won’t be enough to open the door. Be prepared for phone screens and Skype chats with recruiters. Drop the ‘References Available’ line on your resume and ask well-connected LinkedIn folks for online recommendations. Build a solid presence on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be very careful on Facebook – I recommend using Twitter with business friends and Facebook with real friends and family (and privacy settings on stun.) Start blogging if you have something to say; have a skilled editor or someone with an abundance of common sense review your blogs before they’re posted. Know who the influential bloggers are in your industry and keep up with sites like ReadWriteWeb, Technorati and Mashable.

Even if you’re not feeling particularly social, craft a credible social presence. It won’t be comfortable initially, but it will give you an edge in a very competitive job market.