At the end my senior year of high school, my mom handed me a certificate for four years of perfect attendance. (It wasn't as if I had a choice in the matter - I couldn't exactly forge my mom's signature on a note when she was the one scrutinizing others' sloppy attempts at excusing themselves.)
My mom worked as an aide in the school system for 20-plus years. And if it took me 20 years to graduate, I would have had perfect attendance for 20 years. You get the picture. Last year, she retired and moved from the snow belt to down south. Now it's time for me to return the favor.
This blog isn't about punctuality or perfect attendance at the workplace. (Although check out this fun fact: Snagajob founder Shawn Boyer never missed a day of school or work in his entire life. True story.) This blog isn't even about moms (sorry, mom). Instead, this blog is about getting back into the workforce when you're near or past retirement age - and how to craft a fitting resume. That's right, my job is to help retool my mom's resume. This is something any good son would do. After all, if you're a mechanic, you'll probably change your mom's oil for free. Right? Right.
So after ringing her on the phone (wireless, not rotary) and collecting a career’s worth of details, I'm now putting the final touches on the resume. If you find yourself getting back into the job search after 55, here are some lessons I've learned from my time at Snagajob:
- Interpret education broadly: While I could simply put down the name of my mom's high school and graduation year, I'm not really adding any value to the resume. In fact, I may just be drawing attention to the fact she was educated before students texted test answers and connected via trans-Atlantic Skype conversations. So I asked if she had recent training opportunities that could be considered education, and thankfully, she did. My mom had undergone training on how to work with students with learning disabilities and special challenges, so we included it. Now her "education" section is more beefed up and relevant.
- Don't make assumptions about technology: My mom may not know HTML or SQL, but she's very computer savvy. Personally, as someone who works in the tech sector, I wouldn't include proficiency with Microsoft suite products (such as Word and Excel), on my resume. But someone with my mom's profile can buck the stereotype of being old-fashioned and uncomfortable with technology by listing whatever skills and experience they have.
- Choose references strategically: Probe your work history and current employment prospects to see what potential issues you should address. For example, if you're over 50 but the local shop you want to work at seems to employ mostly teens and 20-somethings, choose someone in this age range from your Rolodex to supply a reference for you. It's not right (or legal) for an employer to discriminate based on age, but that doesn't mean it never happens. And it doesn't hurt to let hiring managers know you're the kind of engaging person who regularly builds bridges with all different types of people. Leverage your wisdom and maturity whenever possible; these are indispensable traits that any manager should want.
So my mom's resume is almost done. And now it's time for the cover letters; but that's an entirely different blog all together. Stay tuned.