Work & Money

Your online resume needs a “makeunder”

If you’re hoping to get back into the work world, but are retired or have a large gap in employment, it can be challenging to re-tool your resume and skills to compete with a younger workforce.  Rest assured, you’re not alone…and it’s easier to do than you might think. With a record number of seniors signing up for gig and freelance work, it’s high time to focus on re-examining your career and accomplishments in a new light.

Not long ago, I caught a few episodes of the hilarious TV show “Younger,” which focused on a similar issue.  The main character, Liza, wanted to get back into the working world after raising children and found herself unmarketable for her age.  In typical sitcom fashion, she masqueraded as a twenty-something in order to compete in a Millennial-driven environment. And the very first thing she did was to overhaul her resume with a younger slant.

My personal tips for a resume “makeunder” include:

  1. Get a new email address, preferable Gmail.  It’s free and it’s the gold standard for today’s email audience.  Save your Yahoo, AOL, or internet service provider email for your personal needs (or spam) and get a fresh start–and a new In Box–that will make you look more up-to-date.

  2. Update the layout of your resume.  Instead of the traditional words-only approach, polish your look with a two-column design containing color (limit to one shade only, please) and icons.  “Eye-catching” is IN. You don’t necessarily need a designer to update your layout. Resume templates are available on Etsy [] for $5 to $20 each.  Most contain the entire package of style sheets (resume, cover letter, references, and more), including a plug-and-play MS Word layout, fonts, and thorough instructions.

  3. Move from chronological to functional.  If you have a large gap in employment (or if it’s been several years since you retired), consider placing your key skills or “career highlights” at the top of your resume.  Limit your listed jobs to only three or four titles, and use the headline “related experience.” Put your most relevant work experience first. And, perhaps, consider leaving dates off entirely if your job titles go waaay, waaay back.

  4. Aim for a one-page resume, if possible.  Less is more in the era of short attention spans and distractions.  You don’t need to list everything you’ve ever done. Stick to the things that will really stand out to the reader.

  5. Think in keywords.  Put yourself in the seat of a job creator.  Does your resume have the keywords and phrases that a computerized search would pick up?  Many agencies use bots to search resumes before they even take a first look. If you don’t have the words and phrases that highlight what you’re best at, you may not even make it past the screener.

  6. Focus on your “soft skills” instead of out-of-date hard skills (like specific kinds of software or technologies of yesteryear).  Consider terms like: unshakable work ethic, tirelessly positive attitude, outstanding communication skills, unflappable time management, creative problem solver, or interactive team player.

  7. Save your resume as a PDF.  Do not send a Word resume because it can be altered by the recipient.  In addition, if you’re using a specific design or new fonts, your careful formatting can appear skewed on someone else’s system.

Once you have your new resume polished, start taking a look at popular websites that offer one-at-a-time “gigs.” Put a profile up on:

If you’re more interested in contract or traditional roles, look to the robust job search sites, such as:

Finally, when looking for that perfect next big thing, be sure that you’re searching these resources effectively.  Follow these search hacks:

  • To search for a specific phrase, enclose the words in quotation marks.

  • To find open jobs at a specific company, include the name of the company in quotation marks (“ABC”).

  • Search for jobs with specific skills or in specific industries by adding keywords in quotation marks (e.g. “public relations” or “beauty”).

  • If you want to exclude specific words, use a minus sign and the keyword itself (e.g. “marketing” -”analytics”).

While gussying up your gig searching game may be daunting, it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems.  If you’re still hesitant about putting yourself out there, start by posting on gig sites for around-the-house or office help YOU need and seeing how taskers respond and what kinds of profiles they put up.  Once you see what others are doing successfully, you’ll be able to jump into the game more easily.

Recently featured in Forbes, Fast Company, and Inc. magazine, Olga Mizrahi is an instructor of the Digital Marketing Program for the University of California, Irvine CE, and the author of the bestselling book The Gig Is Up


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