This may come as a surprise to experienced job seekers, but "the purpose of a résumé is not to get a job," according to Debra Magnuson of CPI Twin Cities.
Magnuson, who is vice president of talent management for the executive coaching and career development firm, emphasized that message to members of SHiFT (shiftonline.org), a Twin Cities organization that guides and connects mid-lifers seeking greater purpose and passion in life and work.
"The purpose of the résumé is to create confidence in your credentials," said Magnuson, "as well as interest and curiosity that gets you an interview."
Irene Connors, who specializes in reviewing résumés as a workforce development representative at the Minnesota WorkForce Center-Hennepin South in Bloomington, agrees.
"Your résumé isn't a biography of your work history," Connors said. "It's your marketing tool designed to get you the job interview. Write it with that in mind."
When writing a résumé, experienced workers should remember these tips:
Be succinct. Keep the résumé to two pages unless you have a complex history that highlights relevant experience that needs to be included.
One-size-fits-all doesn't work. Executive recruiters want you to include every job you've ever had and are sensitive about leaving off experience. If you're participating in an executive search, include everything — even if it's four to five pages, said Magnuson. However, create a shorter version (two pages) for interviews, online applications and e-mailing to networking contacts.
Start with a summary. This replaces what was called an "objective" at the top of the résumé. "Objective" is a dated term. "Include a summary paragraph that lays out a clear message about the role you want and what makes you a great candidate," said Magnuson.
Create an "Experience" section. How far back do you go? Aim for 15-20 years. Include a brief description of what the company you worked for did. Focus on what you've achieved, not on tasks and responsibilities.
Don't leave jobs off. Recruiters still want to know what you did in the past, even if you don't elaborate in great detail. After the experience part create a "Related Experience" section that lists jobs by title/company/location only. It's OK to leave dates off, especially from 25-30+ years ago.
Tech savvy? Show it. "A common misperception of more mature workers is that they don't have up-to-date computer skills and have difficulty using new technologies," said Connors.
Last but not least, don't list "references available upon request" at the bottom — employers expect them to be available.
Matt Krumrie is a professional résumé writer: see resumesbymatt.com.