Thank you again to all our veterans for the sacrifices they and their families have made.
This week I’d like to talk about some of the unique skills a veteran may have and how they might incorporate them in a resume.
All resumes have things in common. When deciding what to include in your resume, the first questions should be who is my audience and what do they need to know about me (that is relevant) to help them make the decision to invite me in for an interview? Keep in mind this is NOT your autobiography, but it is about what is important to your audience – not to you.
To help you look at what to include, make a list of skills and qualifications the audience (i.e. a potential employer) needs and wants in an employee. Look at your list and decide which skills you have and where you use these skills. Learn to think in terms of what you have accomplished and how you accomplished it.
Resume Profile or Summary Statement
Start your resume with a “Resume Profile” or “Summary Statement.” The days of “Objectives” are gone. The good news (in my opinion) is this offers greater flexibility, and they can be used to include skills and accomplishments you weren’t able to include before. I recommend using bullet points vs. paragraph format. Bullet points and phrases are much easier to scan and the reader is able to pick up more information about you in a quicker way, an advantage for you as you have about 15 seconds to capture your reader’s attention. Use three to five phrases covering items such as position keywords (career titles, industry skills, general skills, etc.), experience that targets the position for which you are applying, professional skills that transfer to the position, and what you can do for the employer that no one else can provide.
The next section is about your education, related training, and appropriate certifications. Again, keep in mind this is about the audience’s needs, not yours. So while you may be proud of the fact that you are a certified SCUBA instructor, if it has no benefit to the employer, don’t include it. Also, don’t include high school – in most cases, it’s irrelevant, too. Do include the name of your school, the city and state in which the school is located, the type of degree you are receiving or have received, your major and minor, your GPA if it is over a 3.0, the month and year of your graduation (not “from-to”). If you attended a school and transferred out before you received a degree, you don’t need to include that particular school.
Following the “Education” section is usually an “Employment” section. Hopefully, you have some experience related to the job for which you are applying.
Note: I recommend an internship or other related experience. These are becoming a necessity whether required as part of your degree completion or not. Employers want and often expect you to have experience. You’re spending a lot of time and money to obtain your degree. Don’t minimize it by not obtaining the required experience.
In reverse chronological order, list the company/organization name, city and state, time worked (month, year), and your job title. Under this information, again using bullet points and phrases, list related accomplishment/skills the employer can use. Remember, this is about the employer’s needs/wants, not your ego.
Finally. you may have a section on items such as “Honors and Awards,” “Community Service,” “Organizations,” and so forth.
Check, Check, and Re-Check your resume for improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Just one misspelled word can eliminate you from the running. Show it to other people for clarity, grammar, and spelling.
Of Special Interest to Veterans:
- Don’t use military acronyms, phrases, and so forth. Most of us who are civilians don’t understand them. Use the language an employer will understand.
- Be targeted and specific. Don’t force the employer to interpret what you mean – s/he will probably get it wrong and you’ll both lose.
- List only information an employer needs to make a decision to interview you. Remember, it’s about what information the employer needs, not about your pride.
- Don’t forget volunteer information, especially if it’s relevant. Many of you in the military have had some very impressive volunteer experiences helping others. Don’t diminish that. Volunteer experiences can show good communication skills, diversity, problem solving, leadership, etc. Just because it wasn’t in your “job” description, doesn’t mean it’s not an accomplishment!
- Don’t forget other military advantages:
- Giving and following directions
- Working as team leaders – i.e. management experience
- Working as team members – teamwork is a highly valuable skill in the workplace these days
- Working with diversity
- Ability to work under pressure.
- Other advantages may include your military security clearance, attention to safety, working with expensive equipment, and advanced technology skills.
- Helpful phrases:
- Train and evaluate a staff of 20, providing appropriate feedback regarding performance and training requirements
- Identify corporate objectives
- Organize needed resources including….
- Direct operation efforts to achieve desired results
- Gather and disseminate information for status reports for presentation to management staff
- Troubleshoot operational functions to insure productivity and optimize quality
- Solid experience in the development and administration of annual budgets, cost containment, purchasing and inventory control
- Develop and execute prepared and unprepared speeches for various community organizations
- Coordinate daily with personnel to insure timely application processing
- Instate strong networking capabilities to recruit and retain personnel
- Met or exceeded goals four years consecutively (Any quantification you can include is useful.)
- Received numerous monthly and quarterly awards
- Received excellent rating on Inspector General Inspection
In closing, remember to talk about your accomplishments in terms of what they can do for an employer. How did you increase performance, decrease costs, improve reliability, identify and solve problems, and so forth. Let the employers know what you’ve done for others and what you will do for them.
Also remember Career & Leadership Development is here for you. Send or bring us your resumes, talk to us about internships, see us for a mock interview. Ask us for what you need and we’ll work with you. Thanks again!