CREATE A WINNING RESUME: PART 2
If you read Part 1 of this two-part series, you understand the purpose of a resume, which format to use, have built your master resume of skills and experience, and are ready to target your resume and achieve maximum results.
Most recruiters spend a few seconds reviewing a resume before moving on. To capture their interest, include only the most relevant and impactful information on your resume.
The sections of a resume are:
- SUMMARY & TECHNICAL EXPERTISE
- WORK HISTORY (INCLUDING MILITARY EXPERIENCE)
Breakdown of a Military-to-Civilian Resume:
Consider this section your "business card" and provide multiple options for an employer to reach you. Include: Your Name, Mailing Address, Phone Number, and Email Address. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you may choose to include that URL as well. In fact, LinkedIn allows you to create a custom URL for your profile, which doesn’t have a long number sequence.
Do not include rank, certifications, or titles after your name. This information will be added to other sections.
A professional email address is critical. For example, “email@example.com” is great. Avoid nicknames or phrases.
Similarly, your voicemail message should be professional in tone and content. Potential employers may need to contact you this way. You want to deliver a positive impression, even with your voicemail message.
Note: If you're using Microsoft Word, DO NOT place your contact information in the header section of the document, as not all applicant tracking systems are able to properly read and parse information stored in this section of a Word document.
The summary section should be brief and highlight only a few relevant points about your background and skills. The summary is not meant to serve as a mini cover letter. It is simply a place for you to introduce who you are so that the remainder of your resume can focus on measurable results.
This section is designed to give an overview of who you are as a candidate, with two or three sentences that encapsulate the experience and key skills you bring to the position.
Consider your summary as a platform to really sell yourself. Show what sets you apart while incorporating keywords and phrases that are relevant to the role of interest. List your skills, qualifications, achievements, and technical abilities. Think, “Why should this company hire me for this job?”
Veterans with a technical/mechanical background may want to include a section listing their technical expertise to make it easier for hiring managers to identify the types of equipment and tools that you have managed and operated. Think big picture (i.e. hydraulics, pneumatics, ladder logic, boilers, generators, etc.) rather than military-specific systems and terminology.
ELECTRICAL AND GENERAL ENGINEERING PROJECT MANAGER:
Air Force trained leader with more than five years' experience managing and supporting operational/physical plant infrastructure and overseeing projects from concept to completion. Background includes planning and budgeting, project and construction management, and emergency preparedness for Department of Defense assets.
Where you place your education on your resume depends on what you want to showcase.
If you have little to no civilian work experience, or are currently a student, list your education immediately after the summary.
If you have more than a year of work experience, list education after your employment history. You may also opt to do this if your degree is unrelated to your military experience or if you possess corporate experience in your targeted industry.
In all cases, your most recent degree comes first. Include the timeframe you attended, college degree earned, and the name of the school. Only include your GPA if it is higher than 3.0.
Include relevant military schools. If you have certifications, you can include them in your education section. You do not need to list your high school education.
While you should include applicable training and certifications, weapons and tactics training are not of interest to most civilian hiring authorities. You may have to expound on the title of the training. “Completed Signal Officer Advanced Course” is not self-explanatory. To make the Signal Officer Advanced Course add value to your resume, you need to explain what you gained as a result.
If you have several schools that build on each other or are closely related, combine them or list the most advanced course.
For the service member who is transitioning out from active duty, this section may also list military-specific experience, like:
- Specialized technical schools you attended to learn a trade.
- Collateral duties other than your primary role.
- Certifications or specialized watch stations.
- BS Physics & Astrophysics, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, 2017; 3.20 cumulative GPA, graduated with honors. Math and physics tutor, peer mentor.
- Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Acuity Institute, Denver, CO, 2012
- Surface Warfare Officer School, Newport, RI, 2011; Study in leadership principles, performance counseling, time management and preventive maintenance; graduated with distinction.
- Navy Nuclear Prototype, Ballston Spa, NY, 2010; In-depth operational training in a land-based nuclear power plant. First in peer group to qualify as Engineering Officer of the Watch of an operational reactor plant.
- Navy Nuclear Power School, Charleston, SC, 2008; Graduate-level training in Math, Thermodynamics, Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering, Material Sciences, Reactor Dynamics and Nuclear Plant Operations.
WORK HISTORY (INCLUDING MILITARY EXPERIENCE)
List your work history or military experience in reverse-chronological order, starting with the job you have or had most recently. Date each position with the month and year and add a brief description or a few bullets that describe your responsibilities.
Only list experience within the last 10 years and keep the resume under two pages. If you have more than 10 years of experience, focus 80% of your resume on the most recent decade and then condense your remaining experience to title and years in the position.
If there are gaps in your work history, be prepared to discuss it in an interview. Plan to explain any training, education, experience, or skills you developed during times of low employment.
Avoid military-specific acronyms and use plain language to describe military-specific equipment, systems, and programs. In general, use active language and vary your verbs.
When writing your bullet statements, consider the "so what" factor...that is to say, explain why you would be a good candidate for that company. The private sector is profit-driven and companies seek employees who can increase efficiency.
Focus on times you saved money, increased efficiency, etc. Make sure that your contributions are in terms that civilian hiring authorities are likely to understand.
The military is a customer service-oriented organization, and each unit supports each other. You have probably improved operational efficiency, expanded an organization’s production capabilities, and enhanced customer service – all accomplishments that typically drive profits in the corporate world.
EXAMPLE WORK HISTORY/MILITARY EXPERIENCE
Logistics Director – U.S. Army, Fort Liberty, NC; Jan 2019 - Present;
- Led 12 cross-functional logistics specialists and supervised the management of supply operations, including accounting for and maintaining essential equipment valued $15M+. Orchestrated warehouse operations, procurement of repair parts and contracting of services and materials to support a 1,200+ employee organization.
- Hand selected to rebuild an under-performing supply department; conducted data analyses to streamline processes and eliminate backlogs; tracked records and planned and conducted employee training increasing efficiency by 90%.
- Created and implemented an internal inspection program to ensure supply and procurement procedures remain in compliance with standard practices, resulting in the department passing a compliance inspection within six months.
- Oversaw the formulation and management of the organizational operation budget of $3.3M; recognized for a 100% budget closeout through prioritization and allocation of fund requirements - two years straight.
- Synchronized with multiple organizations to resource and distribute specified equipment saving over $200K.
Employers are looking for indicators that you have a track record of success. In this section, you can list strong, quantifiable accomplishments that show a track record of notable performance. Always state the impact first and then the accomplishment.
Read your resume from the employer’s point of view. Is there evidence of above-average performance indicated by quantifiable accomplishments and results?
The civilian world is profit-driven and seeking employees who can save them money and time, as well as increase efficiency. Are you explaining what you did and how it made an impact on the organization’s productivity, efficiency and/or service objectives?
Because the military is mission-oriented, relaying financial impacts can be tricky. But the military is a customer service-oriented organization, and each unit supports each other. You have probably improved operational efficiency, expanded an organization’s production capabilities and enhanced customer service – all accomplishments that typically drive profits in the corporate world.
Received command recognition for ______________, increasing ___ by ___.
Remember, your resume should be a crisp/concise executive snapshot of where you’ve been and what you’ve done. It is only one part of the hiring process and should be viewed as your personal advertisement.
More is not always better! Do not try to include every detail on your resume. Once you get to the interview stage, you will have the chance to fill in the gaps.