Cue the Two-Page Highlight Reel for Resume Success

Oh, the dreaded resume. It can be hard and painful to write, but it’s a must-have tool in every veteran’s civilian job search. How much information should you provide? How long should it be? A recent study may have settled the length debate, and these tips can help your resume grab a recruiter’s attention.

###Sell It vs. Tell It###

If you want a recruiter to yawn and move on, go ahead and include a laundry list of every task you performed. Remember, a resume’s goal is to land an interview. Shift your mindset from laundry list to highlight reel.

In their book, Resume Writing Strategies for Military-to-Civilian Career Transitions, Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark point out that resume writing is selling, and the product is YOU. You must promote and draw attention to what you’ve achieved. Highlight process improvements, money savings, special projects, and leadership.


Coordinated all secretarial, clerical, and administrative functions for base commander.

**Highlight Reel:**

Implemented a series of process improvements that reduced staffing requirements by 20%, grew daily productivity by 30%, and reduced reporting errors by 14% for the commander of a 12,000-person military installation.

Which leads to the next point….

###How Long Should Your Resume Be?###

In general, resumes should not exceed two pages. A recent study by ResumeGo found recruiters are 2.3 times more likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes. In fact, two-page resumes scored 8.6, while one-page resumes only scored 7.1.

Why? Well, one reason is that it’s hard to fit decades of experience on one page. However, ResumeGo found employers 1.4 times more likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes for entry-level job openings. Is this a paradigm shift? Maybe. But most experts agree on this no-no: there are NO circumstances (other than the specific federal resume) that warrant a resume of three or more pages in length.

###Keep It Interesting###

Use a type size of 10 to 12 points. Using bold, italics, underlining and CAPITALIZATION are great ways to set important information apart, but make sure to leave white space on the page. Stay away from the commonly used fonts like Times New Roman, but don’t get cutesy in your style choices.

If you stick to your key accomplishments, you’ll hold your resume to an acceptable length. Additionally, you will have saved some information to share in the interview.