Leisure Freak, Retire Early and Often is all about being financially free to retire early. That and being able to pursue opportunities that are aligned with our passions. Here are some early retiree resume tips based on my success to help you get there.
If you are familiar with this site and my story you may recall that I listed some jobs on my bucket list. Jobs that I would be interested in doing. Either because I wanted to learn something new, location in my town close to home, career change, etc. It is a very short list. My Leisure Freak retire early and often lifestyle is about always being open to opportunities that I am interested in and passionate about pursuing.
There may be something later that I have no idea about now that will make my bucket list or an opportunity arises that I will want to happily accept. Whatever your goals are in the “Retire Often” category, much of getting those opportunities means writing a résumé and having to interview for the opportunity.
There are countless theories and suggestions about how people who are over age 50 or people who have large employment gaps should write their résumé to find a new position. I am only writing here what has worked for me. Being retired early and not having to find a job makes it so the pressure is certainly off of me when dealing with my résumé and interviewing. I am very picky and I am not looking to just work anywhere. I believe being in this financial position can be a huge advantage. Here are a few early retiree resume tips.
4 Detailed Early Retiree Resume Tips
Tip 1: Early Retiree Résumé- Format
I believe the good old standard chronological résumé is still the best and only way to go. Some say it allows the reviewer, from HR to hiring manager, the ability to decide your age and exclude you. Guess what? If they don’t want me because I am over 50 then I don’t want to be there. The whole thing about retiring early and often is you want to follow your passions and pursue opportunities, not a job where you are not wanted for whatever reason.
I use a standard chronological format because it works. Going to a functional format résumé to try to hide your age only raises questions to the reviewer who will probably just assume your age or assume that you have some employment gaps you are trying to hide. I am sure there are many more experienced with this issue than I am. This is just my opinion due to this functional format being suggested to hide those very things.
I think there are many sites that offer a decent résumé template and provides advice on résumé writing. I started with the job posting site Monster.com ( http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-samples/jobs.aspx ) to get an idea of my format. Take a look at the above link and navigate the site to get some great ideas. Here are some details of my résumé:
Simple is best. You can format it yourself or pick one of Microsoft Word’s free and readable templates.
For any online submission versions of your résumé use one of the standard and easily readable fonts such as Calibri or Times.
Do not insert tabs or do any placement changes like centering. Instead of bullets you can use the – or the + sign but decide which way you are going with and stick to only one. You don’t want your on-line résumé to look like you are jumping around with different formats.
For any emphases use CAPS instead of boldface, underlining, or italics. Then Save it as a .txt file so you can easily upload it to job sites.
It easy to get carried away when you are trying to detail the sum of your entire career and experiences. I will usually go overboard and then need to edit it down to only my career experience highlights. I trim it back to only the things that would be more impressive to an employer. Having a space-rich two or even three pages is better than a super tight single spaced small font single page.
At the top of the Résumé
This is where you have your name, home and/or cell phone number, email address and residential mail address. If you believe your LinkedIn, website, and /or blog will make a positive impression on your targeted employers then you can also add this at the top. I have never done that so I can’t say how effective this is but if you do the link inclusions they better be all business or somehow seen as a benefit to your professional aspirations.
Résumé Targeted Job Title
I will list the Title I want to apply for as a Heading. If you are applying for a specific job ad then put the title from the job ad. If I am posting my résumé on a résumé posting site like Monster or Dice then I choose the title I want to shoot for like SYSTEMS ANALYST, etc.
This section will list my skills, Example: Senior Systems Analyst with extensive experience in… This is where I will select all of the skills and experiences the job requires, Example: Revenue Assurance, Routing, SS7, and Interconnection audits to resolve traffic and/or billing disputes. Etc. I then also include after listing my background skills a Result highlight, Example: Gained national recognition upon being first to discover a nationwide….
This is a quick summary section of my résumé so I will also then put together four or five bullet items that represent what is detailed in the Work Experience section that follows. I will just group together experiences at a higher level in sentence format. Example: Network operational planning and technical support in a 24X7 surveillance and alarm NOC environment in areas of …
I will include PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE as a heading over this section. This is where I will list my job experiences in reverse chronological order which means the latest is listed first. I will list the Company followed by the time-frame in Month/Year format. Beneath that I list the job title I held and below a quick summary statement of what my job responsibility was.
Then I will list three to five bullet items showing targeted accomplishments or highlights that would directly relate to the target employer or position. For any position I held for many years I did list more than five bullet items. Each of these bullet items should be specific and include any results in around 30 words or less. They say less is best but sometimes it’s tough to pull off. Include in this section any volunteering and internships you may have.
I will include TECHNICAL/FUNCTIONAL SKILLS as a heading over this section. I will list all of the skills that I have and will most likely have been mentioned in the above section but this is higher level of everything in bullets and a sentence format. Example: Full project and product life cycle support performing engineering, test, documentation, and operational support training for new…
My last bullet item is listing my computer skills like, MS Excel, MS Power Point, MS Word. Now some will say this is redundant as it’s obviously expected but I say list it and remove the question.
Certifications and Training
I will include CERTIFICATIONS AND TRAINING as a heading over this section. This is where I list out all of my non-college based education and certifications. You may be a Certified Project Manager or specifically certified for Microsoft, CISCO etc. If you don’t have any then don’t include this section.
Awards and Achievements
I will include AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS as a heading over this section. If you have some professional awards, achievement, or recognition then flaunt them. If not then skip adding this section. List two or three impressive things about you that would most likely get the attention of your target employer.
It is best to be specific. Example, “Three promotions in five years as Engineer”, “Two invitations to attend prestigious Presidents Club for outstanding achievements in last 4 years”. Try not to use soft and non-specific adjectives like dynamic, team player, or bodacious.
I will include EDUCATION as a heading over this section. I list the School I went to and the city and state it is in. Below on the next line I list the degree or education focus with the date time-frame in Month/Year format.
Give your résumé a look over
#1A- The phrasing and the way experience and results are written should be more like the way you would say it in a conversation. Not a bunch of bullet items with buzz words and the same old standards like, performance minded professional, team player, strategically spearheaded the, delights in exceeding customer, etc. Also don’t use the absolute terms always and never. It just comes across as being rigid.
Some other buzz-phrases or things to be looked for that need to be removed are: Assisted (don’t let that hang there alone, say what it was that you actually did), cutting-edge, ground-breaking, high technical aptitude, detail oriented, strong work ethic, results oriented, self starter, or the trendy rock star, ninja, etc.
Avoid using the word ‘handled’ when describing accomplishments in the areas of trouble shooting, crisis management, or problem solving. It’s easy to use but instead use stronger descriptive words of the action you took like: Led the team, created a program, developed processes and training, etc.
Personalize it but keep it professional explaining what you do or did and the results of doing it.
#1B- Make sure you have an honest résumé. Don’t exaggerate or dumb-down your experience and skills.
#1C- Review your résumé and make sure it is well-written, and spelling/grammar error-free.
Guess what? Nothing above is earth shattering information. It is exactly like a thousand résumé templates you have seen. The thing is it works for me and they can obviously see that I am over age 50.
Tip 2: How to handle an Early Retiree Resume Employment Gap.
As an early retiree who wants to retire early and often you might have to account for employment gaps. The tip here is be honest about what you did during that time off. If you just took the time to relax and enjoy retirement, then don’t lie about it. However choose your words wisely.
My strategy is to place under Professional Experience where I have my employment history “Career-Sabbatical” in the same way I would for employers that I worked for along with the Career-Sabbatical’s date range. I initially thought just showing Sabbatical would be sufficient but an HR acquaintance recently advised me that Sabbatical infers there was a an agreement that you could return to your position.
So I believe Career-Sabbatical hits the mark better. If you want to just use Sabbatical just be prepared to qualify it if asked why you didn’t return to your previous position. Trying to hide your employment gap will cause the reviewer to wonder if you went to jail, prison or something else. So under the Career-Sabbatical heading I would just list a couple of things I accomplished. Maybe with volunteer work, went back to school, earned certifications, or traveled the US and took the time to find myself.
The idea is to relieve any concerns about the gap in employment and have something there to show that your time off had a purpose. You want this to be looked at as something positive that you did that will make you a more productive employee now.
How I handled my retirement -employment gap
My first retirement gap was less than a year and during 2010 when there was high unemployment so I just left the gap unexplained. It was probably assumed that I had been laid off as there was no questions about it during my interviews. When interviewing later for what was my high salary position as a Consultant Analyst they did ask about it but I could easily explain what I was doing and it was a non-issue. During my time off I did do volunteer work for my Town’s Parks and Recreation team.
With the improved economy I now have to account for my second retirement’s employment gap on my résumé if and when I choose to pursue another opportunity of passion.
Would I list any employment gap on my résumé as “Retired Early” or “Retirement” instead of “Career-Sabbatical”? Probably not. Even though I am a Leisure Freak redefining the definition of “retirement”, that doesn’t mean everyone reading my résumé won’t only think of retiring as the total withdrawal from all work. Who knows how they will perceive me as an employee before getting the chance to be interviewed.
I did put this to the test when I submitted for an early retirement side hustle and listed for my 2nd retirement gap exactly what I did. I listed Sabbatical (there were no questions regarding why I didn’t return to my previous position) and that I had taken time to assist with caring for our aged parents which required travel to their home state. It was short and sweet and no comments came from it. I was offered and I accepted what turned into a 6.5 month gig.
Tip 3: Customize your Early Retiree Résumé for the Position.
Don’t just flip out there the same résumé to every position you apply for. At least make sure you have adjusted some of the phrasing and key words to fit the job ad you are applying for. Always be honest but some positions may be focused on different skill sets than others. If you have written process, requirements, and training documentation and the opportunity is targeting one or two of them, emphasize those in your résumé. This is common knowledge but worth mentioning.
Tip 4: Post your Early Retiree Résumé on Job Sites.
Let them find you. It still happens. My last adventure came from my profile being seen on LinkedIn. Other job sites as I have listed below allow you place your résumé there under your dream job title if you have aspirations to find a professional position.
Post your résumé for recruiters to find you in their searches.
- Snag-a-Job Lists jobs from many job sites in one convenient place. Large corporate full-time professional jobs to small company part-time temp positions. Create your user profile to set-up emailed job alerts and upload your résumé for simple job applications (affiliate).
- Indeed Lists jobs from many job sites in one convenient place. Large corporate full-time professional jobs to small company part-time temp positions. Post your résumé for recruiters to find in their searches.
- linkedin Establish your LinkedIn profile and start linking with your professional associates. Post your résumé for recruiters to find in their searches.
- monster Monster is a well-known job posting and résumé posting site. I find it best for full-time career based or professional job interests
- dice Dice is a technical job site for job posting and résumé posting.
- Careerbuilder Career Builder is a site for job posting and résumé posting.
Good luck to all of you aspiring to retire early and often. May your résumé be picked up and the opportunity be laid at your feet.
Also see my companion page to this, early retiree interviewing tips.