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Military Resume Writing Tips

Resume Tips

1. The most common capitalization error in resumes is with job titles. Capitalize a person's job title only when it precedes his or her name. (For example, President Jackson) Do not capitalize a job title when it comes after the name as a description. (Example: Mr. Jackson, the president of ABC Tires)

2. Abandon the idea of a "generic" resume. There is no such thing as a "one size fits all resume." Taking the time to tailor your military resume to fit the exact requirements expressed in the job posting will significantly increase your chances of getting the interview. Make sure your military resume has as many keywords from the job posting.

3. Titles of company officials should not be capitalized when they follow or replace a personal name.
Correct: Reported to the vice president of XYZ company.
Incorrect: Reported to the Vice President of XYZ company.

4. Avoid using terms like Battalion, Brigade, Regiment, etc. on your military resume. Assume that that type of language will get lost on the average civilian recruiter or hiring official. Instead, use generic terms like 'unit', or even better, put it in quantifiable terms like 'unit comprised of over 150 personnel.'

5. Don't just list 'what' you did on your military resume, but be sure to explain the impact, and if possible, put it in quantifiable terms.
For example: Designed a training program for junior non-commissioned officers that led to a 30% increase in unit physical training pass rate.

6. Include as many of the same keywords that appear in the job description you are applying for in your military resume. Don't assume the recruiter will take the time to filter through your resume to see if you're a good fit. Many recruiters don't even understand the details of the job, so they are merely looking to find as many exact word matches as possible. Often times, computers do the initial filtering.

7. The only fonts that you should use in your resume are the "universal fonts". These are the ones that open the same on PCs and Macs of all ages. These are: Times Roman, Arial, Century, MS Sans Serif, Book Antiqua, Century Gothic, or Calibri. There are some other universal ones, but these are the only ones that are also easy to read. Even though Times Roman is the most common, HR reps have grown bored with it. So try one of the others. I recommend Calibri. It's clean and modern, and spaces show well. For technical resumes, such as engineers or IT persons, Arial is the preferred font. For executives, Book Antiqua or Century.

8. Be selective about the skills and extracurricular activity you put on your military resume. Only include those that are relevant to the position you're applying for. If being a skydiving instructor wouldn't help you perform at the position you're applying for, don't put it on your resume.

9. Use a generic email address on your resume. Hotgirl25@gmail.com or desertdemon50@yahoo.com might be funny between friends and acquaintances, but will be a distraction and probably a turn-off for recruiters. They may start to judge you, or worse, may not even read the rest of your resume. If you need to create a new email address, do so today.

10. When you post your military resume to an online job bank or job posting, you need to prepare an electronic resume or HTML resume. Different computers read information differently. For example, you might have a PC and the receiver might have a Mac and if you send an attachment, your receiver might not have the right software to open your resume. Electronic resumes also clear up distortions and formatting issues when you cut/paste. If you need help creating one we can help.

11. Don't be afraid to go over one page on your military resume. In fact, while you generally want to try to stay within two pages, even that's not written in stone. Instead of focusing on length, place your emphasis on efficiency and content.

12. Be sure to include a cover letter with your military resume; and make sure it’s not dry or generic. Your cover letter should be tailored specifically for the job you are seeking, and illustrate your best intangible qualities. Cover letters provide an opportunity for you to emphasize your excitement and interest for the job; and to illustrate some of the qualities about yourself that don’t necessarily fit into the constructs of a military resume.

13. Include action words in your resume. Avoid passive language like “I was responsible for baking cakes.” Instead, try “I baked cakes.” Consider the following action words when writing your military resume: Accelerated, Balanced, Channeled, Delegated, Established, Facilitated, Gained, Handled, Implemented, Launched, Motivated, Negotiated, Optimized, Performed, Researched, Standardized, etc.

14. Constantly update your military resume. If you find yourself sending out a resume that you last updated a year ago, you probably missed several opportunities to add new training, education, accomplishments, or other work experiences. Take a look at your military resume today to see what you can add.

General Job Search Tips

1. Did you know you may be eligible for Veterans’ Preference? Eligible veterans may qualify to receive preference for many federal jobs. You must have been discharged under honorable or general discharge to qualify for preference. Retirees are not included unless you are a disabled veteran or retired below the rank of major or its equivalent.

2. If you're out of work, you may want to consider acquiring skills, or tailoring your military resume to make you more attractive to employers seeking sales or marketing assistance. Whenever the economy takes a downturn, companies tend to beef up their sales staffs to bring in more money.

3. There is no perfect time to start posting your resume when you're about to transition out of the military. However, the general consensus is to start preparing your military resume and gathering your evals, and other paperwork about 6-9 months out; and then start actually applying for jobs about 2-4 months out. While you can start applying earlier, most recruiters won't really give you application genuine consideration too far in advance of your separation.

4. Job hunting can be an overwhelming - especially in today’s job market. However, devising a strategy will provide structure to your search and reduce your stress level in the process. Consider the following guidelines to developing your strategy: 1) determine your career goals 2) assemble and organize your documents such as your DD214, college transcripts, etc.; 3) tailor your military resume and cover letter to specific job you've targeted; and 4) and create a daily schedule.

5. When completing a job application it is best to leave the salary requirements field blank. If is a required field, the recommendation is to enter zeros. You can weed yourself out of the application process if you put a salary that is too high or you can short change yourself if you put in a salary that is too low.

6. Now that you have transitioned out of the military, take some time to assess the skills so you can focus your job search. This will help you determine the type of jobs you qualify for and help you market yourself more effectively. One method to assess you skills is to separate them by technical skills, soft skills, and personality traits. See sample below:
Technical Skills - Personnel Security
Soft Skills - leadership experience
Personality Trait – Analytical

7. Take advantage of your networks; friends, family, former co-workers, and other connections are often good sources to find a job. Make it known to them that you are in search of employment and ask them if they know of any job openings. You never know, they may have an opening at their place of employment. Many job postings are internal and not posted publicly. If they refer you, the hiring official is more likely to look at your application more favorably.

8. Networking is highly recommended and is a very powerful tool during the job search process. There are a vast number of jobs that do not get posted on employer’s websites but are instead filled through internal referrals. As part of your job search strategy you should aim to network with 2-3 individuals per week.

9. If you're applying for a job in another state, be sure to put in your cover letter that you "will be relocating to that state". This way the company doesn't have to consider whether or not they'll need to pay for your relocation. This will keep you from being ruled out immediately in favor of a local candidate.

10. If you're applying for a job in another state, be sure to put in your cover letter that you "will be relocating to that state". This way the company doesn't have to consider whether or not they'll need to pay for your relocation. This will keep you from being ruled out immediately in favor of a local candidate.


Interview Tips

1. One of the keys to being successful in a job interview is to have knowledge about the organization - not just the job. Conducting research prior to the interview will not only help you gain a solid understanding of the company, but more importantly, it will allow you to better articulate why you would be a good fit for the organization. It demonstrates that you have a genuine interest in the company. It will also help you develop questions for the interviewer.

2. Have you created a 30 second commercial? Creating this concise description of yourself and your employment goals is pertinent when networking. You never know when you may come across someone who may be in the position to offer you a job, or recommend you for a job. Your 30 second commercial should include: 1) who you are 2)skills and qualifications 3) type of work you are seeking 4) what value you may bring to an organization.

3. First impressions are lasting, so be sure to make a good one when you meet your interviewer. Research shows that interviewers formulate an impression of a candidate within the first 7 seconds of meeting them.

4. Dressing for success during an interview varies based on the position you're trying to get. Generally speaking you should go for a minimum of business casual, and adopt a more formal appearance depending on how professional the position is. For men, a well-fitting grey blazer or sportscoat works in both a business formal and business casual environments.

5. Tip of the Day: Remember the numbers 7 and 4. Interviewers make a quick judgement about you within the first 7 seconds of entering the room. You then have 4 minutes to change that opinion - in a positive or negative way.

6. When to 'dress-down' for an interview? Despite what you may have been told in the past, new business trends have made it perfectly okay to ditch the suit and tie for some - not all - interviews. Most start-up companies for example, tend to be more casual than large, established corporations, therefore the dress code will likely reflect that.

7. Avoid making negative statements about your previous employer when asked the question, "why did you leave your last job?". Instead make your answer focused on the positive aspects of the job you're interviewing for, such as opportunities to grow your career, or learn new skills.