CREATE A WINNING RESUME: PART 2
The transferable skills that you learned in the service are the foundation of your resume. Here's how to showcase them to achieve maximum results.
Begin with a career summary that lists your skills, qualifications, achievements, and technical abilities. This will capture your reader’s attention and immediately communicate the value you could bring to their organization.
TECHNICAL LEADER / QUALIFIED NAVY NUCLEAR ENGINEER
Multi-disciplinary engineering manager with progressive leadership in operations, maintenance and quality control. Innovative and resourceful manager with the ability to troubleshoot and resolve complex problems. An effective team builder skilled at forging business relationships and aligning capabilities with multiple organizations. Recognized for ability to resource and direct ships operation with a condensed timeline. Current TS/SCI clearance.
From that point, you should list your education and training (if applicable to your civilian job application).
TRAINING AND EDUCATION
Old Dominion University – B.S. Criminal Justice, 2010
Tidewater Community College – A.S. Science, 2003
Nuclear Propulsion Plant Operator Course (Prototype), Ballston Spa, NY, 2017
• Completed six months of advanced nuclear prototype training which required the safe operation of a naval nuclear propulsion plant during startups, shutdowns, transient operations, and casualty scenarios.
Nuclear Power School, Orlando, FL, 2015
• Completed advanced courses in math, heat transfer, chemistry, physics, radiological controls, material science, reactor dynamics, and mechanical engineering fundamentals in the design, operation, and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants.
Nuclear Field “A” School, Orlando, FL, 2014
Next, list your professional experience, listing your current position first, and then proceeding in reverse chronological order. The preferred experience layout consists of a brief paragraph (4-6 lines of text) summarizing your main duties followed by 1-4 bulleted accomplishments. Use the first sentence to introduce us to your organization (size, mission, “customers”, etc.) to put your experience into context. Next, list your credentials and certifications.
Finally, you may also wish to include some “extras” that will distinguish you from other candidates and demonstrate your value to a prospective employer. These areas include, but are not limited to:
Equipment skills and certifications - If you have a lot of these, only list those relevant to the position you're applying to. Example: FCC GROL certification with Radar Endorsement
Technical qualifications - Example: Arduino, Assembly, Bash, C/C++, Git, HTML5/CSS, Java, Python, VHDL
*Languages *- Only list those you are fluent in. Example: Fluent in English, Spanish, and German.
*Honors and Awards *– You do not need to list every medal. Only list those that are major and were a result of your individual efforts.
Teaching and Training – List special and application position relevant training qualifications.
*Committees and Task Forces *– These can be both in the military and in volunteer organizations. Again, only highlight those where your involvement is significant or relevant.
The civilian world is profit-driven and seeking employees who can save them money and time, as well as increase efficiency. List strong, quantifiable accomplishments that show a track record of notable performance. Always state the impact first and then the accomplishment. You can also incorporate medals/awards received, high rankings, quotes from senior raters, etc. into your accomplishments.
When writing your bullet statements, concentrate on the "so what" factor...that is to say, I want the reader to know how you contributed in that position and why you would be a good candidate for them. Focus on showing how you saved money, time, increased efficiency, etc. Make sure that your contribution is understandable and will show the impact that you want it to.
Logistics Director – U.S. Army, Fort Bragg, NC Jan 2016 - 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 are 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.
Omit phrases such as “Responsible for….,” “Duties include….,” “In charge of….,” etc. These phrases are boring and redundant, and they muddy the clarity of your message. Include concrete data, numbers, and percentages that clearly state your accomplishments.
Before: Responsible for planning and executing Amphibious Raids and Water Survival Training. Selected as lead instructor for Staff Planning Course for junior grade officers.
*After: *Developed and executed numerous realistic high-risk courses for nearly 1,500 personnel per year. Ranked #1 of 15 instructors on numerous performance reports.
Use strong, active verbs that present your skills and abilities in a few words.
*For example: *
Devised new curriculum for a staff planning course. This new program enhanced the organization’s ability to conduct missions within a shorter timeline, thereby improving efficiency and relevancy on the battlefield.
Spearheaded the creation of a functional fitness and martial arts training room which increased the instructor’s Marine Corps Martial Arts certification levels by 90%. - Guided seven different joint combat operations with United States Special Forces along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border independent of the higher headquarters.
*Do not use first or third person! * For first person, do not use “I orchestrated all logistics operations for an organization consisting of 300+ multi-functional personnel.” Just start with “Orchestrated.”
For third person do not use “making the customer and their needs a primary focus.” Begin with “making customer needs a primary focus.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF A COVER LETTER
A cover letter serves as a good preface to your resume by allowing you to discuss your work ethic and ability to function as a team player. It also lets you provide more detail about one or two achievements from your military background or perhaps positions in the civilian world, post-service.
Your cover letter supports your resume - it does not repeat it. Be sure to follow the rules of professional business correspondence in your cover letter, and use the same active voice and terminology you use for your resume writing.
DE-MILITARIZE AND AVOID ACRONYMS
Civilian employers must understand that your years in the service have prepared you well for the civilian world. However, if they have not served, it may be difficult for them to wade through a series of titles and acronyms they don’t understand.
It’s important to translate your experience and skill sets into civilian terminology. A good test to see if your resume is understandable is to have a civilian read it. If he or she can’t understand what you did in the service, you need to spell it out more clearly. Ask one or more non-serving friends or family members for their perspective on your resume. Do they understand everything you did without needing more clarification? If not, ask them how to better describe it in their view.
Next, acronyms create confusion and the reviewer does not have time to jump around your resume to find the meaning of particular acronyms.
STAND OUT WITH THE RIGHT FONT
Use a typestyle (font) that is clean, conservative and easy to read. Next, choose a font size between 10 and 12 points. Some popular font types to consider include: Tahoma, Arial, Times New Roman and Verdana.
Use spacing, as well as bold, italics, underlining and CAPITALIZATION to highlight certain information.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE SELLING
Your years in the military have given you specific skills, attention to detail and an unparalleled work ethic that make you a desirable commodity in the civilian workforce. Understand and appreciate the value you bring to a prospective employer, and communicate that value. By focusing on your character as well as your achievements, successes, and unique skill sets, you can show that you are “the” someone who will make a difference at their company.