I retired one year ago and took time off to travel. I thought I would enjoy retirement, but I do not and want to return to work. At 71 years of age, I am constantly told I look to be in my 50s. I am healthy and have all my wits about me. I am a CNP with excellent clinical skills. I am not sure how to present a resume that would discourage any prospective interviews due to age. The toughest part in seeking a job at my age is getting the interview. I love my work as a CNP and am very good at it. I am also unsure how to explain my year off. I have been maintaining my CMEs. Is there a manual I can purchase as a guide in writing my resume and cover letter?
Dear Regretfully Retired,
I hear from retired nurses all the time who get bored after a period of time and want to get back in in some capacity. So you are certainly not alone in that regard. Read “Retirement: an ending or new beginning?.”
A prospective employer should never be able to determine how old you are from your resume. You want to keep your resume age-neutral regardless of your age. You do this by not listing the years of graduation from anything on your resume. You also should not list every job you ever had. The rule of thumb is to only go back about 15-20 years. After that, to indicate that you have more experience beyond what you listed, you can use a statement such as “Prior to this had extensive experience in major medical centers” (or whatever similar statement reflects your experience). If your prior experience is relevant to the job for which you are applying, you can mention it in your cover letter.
Many older nurses assume their age is an obstacle in getting interviews. The job market and how we have to market ourselves have changed. It usually has more to do with getting or not getting an interview than any perceived age issues. My book, “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses,” provides detailed information and samples of how to write a dynamite and effective resume and cover letter. It even includes issues related to age and so-called retirement. It can be purchased anywhere books are sold.
Explaining your year off is not a problem at all. Just state you were on a “brief hiatus from healthcare” tending to personal matters and are ready and eager to get back to work. You can even add that you are rested, fresh and raring to go. It’s all in how you position it.
Since everything happens through networking, including finding job opportunities, start getting out to local chapter meetings of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and/or the American Nurses Association. Attend as a guest for now if not a member. Have business cards made for yourself and work the room. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it.
Since you are unemployed, you might consider volunteering as an NP while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteer work gives you recent relevant experience to add to your resume, expand your professional network and hone old skills while learning new ones. It’s also a way to get a foot in the door somewhere because volunteering often turns into paid employment. Consider a free clinic, your local public health department or a senior center.