Veteran Resume Basics – Adjusting Your Expectations
Many veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and seeking jobs tell us that the process of initially getting their resume together and keeping it updated is one of their least favorite parts of a civilian job search. Nevertheless, it’s a necessary evil in the civilian world. According to Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, founders of the Resume Writing Academy and certified resume writers, it is critical to understand from the beginning exactly what a resume is, and more importantly, what it isn’t before you dive in.
Knowing a resume’s purpose is key. For starters, your resume is not designed to be a career obituary or your life story. In fact, your resume alone won’t get you the job. So then, what exactly IS a resume? Quite simply, it’s a marketing tool designed to help you land the interview. Once you’re in the door, you can expand on some of the career achievements you’ve highlighted in your resume.
Resume writing for military veterans
Companies may be eager to increase their veteran employment numbers, but you still have to stand out to get noticed. Chances are, your resume will be fighting for the attention of a hiring manager who is flooded with information. He or she may only have a minute to look at your resume. Therefore, your resume must be crisper and tighter than ever before.
It’s essential to grab your reader’s attention early and deliver key information concisely. That means your resume must be easy to scan, with lots of white space and bullets. Enelow and Kursmark recommend that a resume be no more than two pages maximum. Why? Because keeping it short will force you to include only the most important and compelling information.
Resume Basics for Military Veterans
Your resume is your opportunity to build your personal brand. Keep in mind that you are selling yourself and the value you will bring to the organization. Building your personal brand will require you to dig deep and hone in on the career achievement and successes that make you unique.
How does a veteran write a resume?
There can be several resume formats to choose from when you are beginning to craft your resume. For military veterans, one of the best formats to use to make a base for your resume would be a “skills-based” or “functional” format.
A “functional” format resume is a strong resume format for military veterans as opposed to the more traditional “reverse chronological” resume format because it places a greater focus on the specific skills that the individual possesses and has also grown throughout their career. Resumes that are written in the “Reverse chronological” format allow job seekers to outline their experience and career history and are usually a popular choice with civilian resumes, however most veterans' find that their employment history is most of the time with one employer (the military) over the span of many years. A functional format resume allows to show the progression a veteran has had through different ranks and roles and most importantly highlight the skills they have developed in those roles along the way during their time in the military.
Since many hiring managers and recruiters might not be familiar with the types of ranks and roles of military personnel, avoid listing all the different responsibilities and positions that you had during your military experience, and instead focus on highlighting the skills that you developed within those roles that would directly relate to the position you are applying to.
Tips on Sections Military Resume Writers Should Include in their Resume
It is important for veterans to include a “Key Skills” section when making their resume. This section is paramount when veterans are using the functional, skills-based resume format and should also be included after your resume summary at the top of your resume. This section should contain the majority of the content of the resume and you should use concise, well-written descriptions of the skills that you developed in the military that are relevant to the jobs you are interested in.
Be sure to list any certifications, courses completed, and accomplishments on your resume, as these may be attractive to hiring managers depending on the position you are applying for.
code text hereTips on Skills Military Resume Writers Should Highlight in their Resume
When choosing what skills to highlight on your resume, it is important to review the requirements of the position that you are applying to and closely match your skills with the specifications of the job and what the employer is looking to find.
When listing skills, be sure to give a clear, concise outline of how you used the skill during your military experience. For example, if you choose to list “leadership” as a skill, give a description of what rank you were, how many people you led on your team, and what work that team accomplished as a result. Here are just a few ideas of skills that military veterans can include on a resume:
- Customer Service
- Attention to detail
Each skill that you list can have bullet-pointed information outlining how you exhibited that skill during your time in the military. Be as specific as possible when you are describing skills on your resume. A good format to follow when listing details for skills is to describe what you were responsible for, the specific actions that you took, and what were the results of those actions.
The key focus when including these skills on your resume is to always select and highlight the skills that are most relevant to the positions for which you are applying.
Veterans Resume Writing Services
Need help translating your military background into the right civilian resume? Learn more about our military resume writing services here.