Job hunting after 50: Brand building and marketing

My efforts to find a new career later in life led me to the career that I have now — one that I not only enjoy, but that makes a difference in the world. In the previous article of this series, I recounted some of the steps that worked for me in performing a personal inventory so that I would have a better idea of the direction I needed to go for the next stage of my career. In this article, I have already made some key decisions concerning direction after doing some self-evaluation. Now, it’s time to build my personal brand that I will use to launch myself in the direction that I have chosen.

Who am I? Brand building and marketing
In the previous article, I recommended doing a personal inventory so that you can be more secure in the direction that you should go and then enlist the help of those closest to you to not only provide support but to serve as your encouragers. One of the key steps in the next part of the process is to either update your résumé or create a new one that will serve as your brand banner to the rest of the world. Perhaps you never really had one before, since the work that you’ve been doing didn’t require it. If so, you will need one now. This is going to be your official advertisement to potential employers about who you are, what you have accomplished and where you want to go.

Understand that this will not be a static document — one that is created and then sits in a beautiful frame for the world to admire. It will be constantly updated and revised depending on the particular positions for which you are applying. Some of the revision will happen in this document, and some will happen in the cover letter that will accompany your résumé. Most importantly, it will constantly adapt as the position requires. It is more than just a “history of you.” It is a document that highlights your adaptability, your achievements, your overcoming of challenges, your teamwork abilities and your creativity.

Some key points about your résumé
There are several types of résumés: chronological, functional and combination, along with many versions of each. However, for the type of leap that you are making, I suggest a variation of a targeted résumé. A targeted résumé is a résumé you have adapted to highlight the experience, skills and relevant achievements that would be applicable to the specific job for which you are applying. It’s a little more work, but it will set you apart from the pack who are just cranking out cookie cutter versions of a résumé.

Remove older and irrelevant job experiences and instead, play up the recent experiences that translate well to the particular position for which you are applying. Make sure that you highlight current technical skills and savvy for using them to achieve results. Make sure that the top of your résumé includes hyperlinks to your profiles in professional and social networking sites, and make sure that people attempting to find you through those sites can actually get in touch with you using your current contact information. Place these alongside your email address and phone numbers.

If you don’t have a presence on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, Plaxo or ZoomInfo or on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Ning, take some time to build these out fully. You’ll also want to have on hand a good, current picture of yourself dressed in business attire for your profile picture. Lastly, you’ll also want to use some of the same phrases and terminology in constructing these that you are using on your résumé so that your presence on the Web will appear consistent.

Be careful to remove the points of your résumé that highlight your age (“I’m the proud grandpa of five beautiful grandchildren”), or at least revise them to keep the focus on your skills and accomplishments and away from your calendar age. You won’t be able to hide them all, but just don’t make them a key point of your résumé. A lot of this can be accomplished by removing the experience points of your résumé that are old or are not relevant to the position that you are seeking.

Work to beef up the skills and achievements portion of your résumé to highlight your recent accomplishments. Don’t forget to include markers that indicate dedication, loyalty, and perseverance — the things that younger candidates can’t offer as well as you can. Use these to reflect what you have been doing, what you have learned and what you have contributed to the organizations of which you have been a part. Show yourself as a life-long learner who is effectively adaptable. Do you have an avocation or hobby that could be easily translated into a marketable skill? If so, this should be placed under the skills and/or achievements section of your résumé but should only be used if this hobby directly highlights your suitability for the targeted role.

An ever-changing document
Now you have the core of your ever-evolving personal brand banner — your résumé. As I mentioned before, you will need to constantly help your résumé adapt to the specifics of the role for which you are seeking at the time, so don’t hesitate to rewrite it as often as needed so that your personal brand banner always presents you as the solution for any prospective employment opportunity. This document, combined with a targeted cover letter, will represent you until you have an opportunity to place yourself in front of a potential employer.

The next article in this series will address how to prepare yourself physically and mentally for that eventuality — an interview for one of the positions that aligns with your career goals. We’ll do this in the next part of the process, “Job hunting after 50: Preparing yourself physically and mentally.”

Tony Lewis is a senior recruiting specialist with Insperity Recruiting Services.