Mid-career workers: Point up your valueMid-career professionals should avoid punishing recruiters with epic-sized resumes. The exception: You're applying for a job as a college professor where it's vital to catalogue the details of research projects and scholastic publications.
Your best bet is to craft a resume that is concise while still trumpeting solid accomplishments.
"It should never be more than a two-page resume," says Jan Cannon, a Boston-based career counselor since 1995 who offers professional resume writing services. "The key is to not go back more than 10 years. Most employers don't care what you did 10 years ago unless you worked for the same company. They want to know what you can do for them and what benefit you can provide."
To that end, list specific achievements that point to the value you bring to an organization and place them right after your personal information on the first page of your resume. Your education should typically be listed toward the end of the second page.
Include enough information to intrigue your reader, but not much more.
"Everything should be filtered through that 'so what?' value proposition question, meaning now the target statement becomes not just 'an analyst in a venture capital firm,' but 'an experienced national account manager who consistently delivered double-digit growth for Fortune 500 companies,'" Whitcomb says.
Late-career workers: Play up leadership skillsResumes for late-career job seekers should be written so that they point to specific goals the person wants to achieve in the short stretch to retirement.
For some, that means getting a job to simply make ends meet. For others, it can mean much more.
"It really depends on what they're targeting," Whitcomb says. "It's going to be a completely different scenario for somebody who's reaching the pinnacle of his career and is now going for the CEO position versus somebody that may be near retirement," she says.
Functional resumes are usually the best choice for job seekers who are changing careers, don't have a lot of management experience or don't want to pigeonhole themselves into a specific industry but still need to work for a few years until retirement.
Functional resumes highlight skills, training and professional licenses without emphasizing chronological order, which typically reveals a person's age.
But for the late-career professional who is still very much in the game professionally and looking for the next logical progression in his or her career, a functional resume could be a career killer.
"That will raise red flags more than anything," Whitcomb says. "If it's a natural progression they had over a 20-, 30-year career, they still need to use the traditional reverse chronological order with a very strong summary section. And that summary section could even be a full page."