Standing in Staples the other day, a man asked me where the manila folders were. I told him I was just trying to find the right binders to get me through my first quarter of nursing school this fall. He rambled off but we ran into each other in another aisle and started a conversation. Turns out, he is a recruiter with 15 years of experience, second career, LOVES his job. He spent 40 minutes telling me how recruiters look at resumes and gave me many tips. He also gave me his email and phone number and said he'd be glad to answer questions anytime. So my first suggestion is: try to find a recruiter or someone in HR in your area of interest to try to learn what they're looking for.
Aside: I am older and making a late-life career change from law. I just landed my first CNA job and hope to keep it through nursing school. I plan to be looking for opportunities throughout school and hopefully, have a job when I graduate. To me, you are in a great position since you've made the career change and have lots of experience under your belt. I envy you! Be confident and know you have much to offer.
Now the career tips (in case you can't find that personal recruiter resource): Here is what the recruiter said:
* Forget about the one page resume rule. Very few older workers who have had a productive career can fit everything onto one page. If they can, that's a disadvantage.
*Don't do a "functional" resume to avoid listing gaps in employment or jobs you think are unrelated to your current goals. How do you handle them then? Stay tuned.
* DO use a short, one-line Objective Statement that is tailored to the job for which you are applying. (I had that part right at least. When applying for CNA jobs at LTC, I'd include LTC in my objective. When applying to TCU... well, you know. And there's nothing wrong with having multiple objectives.)
*DO have a "Skills" or "Current Skills" section. (This is where I think your past experience will be dynamite.) Almost every job requires computer skills, so list all of yours. Include skills with specific software and hardware (like touchscreens as well as keyboarding.)
*List every job you've had and give your title, employer, location and start and end dates. Do NOT write a narrative. (Another resume rule smashed for me.) Instead, give a bulleted list of your achievements at the job, making them as specific as possible and as tied to the employer requirements as possible. Don't worry if you're leaving some of what you did out, you can fill that in at the interview if, in fact, they're interested. He approved this example: "Reorganized document processing system to save average of $10,000 per month in labor cost and shorten time appellants wait for hearing date by an average of two weeks." The value to the employer is your skill in process design and modification, efficiency and teamwork - all good things for a nurse (or in my case, CNA) even though the content has nothing to do with health care. You don't need to list everything, just an example for each skill that your potential employer would want. I'm guessing you'd kick it at understanding and improving processes, mediating and resolving disputes between various units, clear and effective oral and written communication, yadayadayada.
*Don't pay attention to "that hype" (his words) going around about how it's necessary to grab the recruiter's attention and sell yourself in the first 15 seconds is garbage. (He actually used stronger words. He though resumes that try to do that are less useful and flowing to the recruiter.) He said you don't want to turn the recruiter OFF in the first 15 seconds with misspellings and grammatical errors or gross lack of qualifications but you absolute do not need to cram everything important into the first paragraph of your resume. Instead, you need to get the recruiter to read through your resume by making each line say how you meet the employers needs so he'll say "Yes, we want that. Next? Yes, I want that. Next? Yes....") So "Objective" fits the job, skills are current and fit employer needs and each job demonstrates in a quantifiable way that you can deliver a skill the employer wants.
I hope I haven't rambled on too long. This information was so amazingly helpful and liberating to me and I hope it is for you, too. Best wishes!