A resume is your first attempt at making an enduring connection with a prospective employer. It carries tremendous potential to be a true representation of who you are, to transform from being a statement of your qualifications into an extension of your strengths and brand. So, your resume needs to aim not just at catching the eye of recruiters but appeal to their requirements so as to result in an interview call. And that is just the beginning-during the interview process, it should serve as a substantive tool for you to guide the conversation and negotiate your terms.
With these inherent multi-fold goals, how do you craft a resume which is most effective and relevant to the job you really want? Coupled with that, if you are a veteran transitioning into the corporate sector, how do you communicate all that you achieved during your military service in civilian job market terms?
We have for you, the following key tips that you should bear in mind when creating a resume targeted at the civilian world:
Set Clear Objectives: Before you set out to create the most powerful resume, you should invest some time in defining what you truly want to pursue as a career choice, what you are capable of accomplishing and finally, the extent to which your qualifications complement all of it. The point where the answers to all these questions intersect should become the reference for you to create a strong and effective resume. Only then would you be able to produce the true value of your accomplishments and skills as a service member onto your resume. This clarity would allow you to seek the most interesting and relevant job roles and accordingly craft your resume with the most transferable skills.
Remember the Essentials: During the job search phase, the various jobs you apply to would demand their customized resume templates. Pay special heed to the specific information sought. The key is to remember that your resume is not a generic, static document enlisting your achievements. Rather it is a medium which needs to be consciously and continuously tailored to the expectations of that coveted job. USAJOBS-a federal jobs platform for instance, requires applicants to follow a standard procedure of noting the job announcement number and follow the subsequent steps in the process. But before you customize your resume, make sure that it fulfills all the basic checks.
- Mention your achievements and/or tasks in bullets beginning with sound action-oriented verbs such as ‘Led’, ‘Analyzed’, etc.
- Keep both the resume and the bullets concise and most relevant. One way to ensure that is to divide each work experience into the most important tasks or achievements.
- Get the presentation right-by leaving adequate margins (0.5 to 1 inch on each side) and following a consistent format (for example-bold section headings in upper case, uniform font size etc.) to bring out a sharp and professional resume format.
Take the help of bullet level feedback on the VMock platform to ascertain the strength of each of your resume bullets.
Bring out the strength of the uniform: Most recruiters hiring for federal government jobs admit to encountering incredible talent in veterans today; however, they complain about the glaring gap in how the military experience is translated into terms that they can truly appreciate and value. It is imperative that you describe your remarkably challenging role as say, Army Sergeant, in simple, recognizable functional skills which you think are most relevant to the applied position/ job description.
- Key is to demilitarize the word: Resist the urge to include military jargon or acronyms to describe your accomplishments and tasks as a service member. While there is no disputing the fact that there is exceptional value entrenched in the military work you did, it is crucial that you narrate it in the language that civilian employers comprehend. In today`s job market, the odds of you landing an interview lie on how close the keywords in your resume match those of the automated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that virtually every company has integrated into their career portals.
For instance, if you were a Commander responsible for combat training, managing troops and fleet as well as equipment management, you can convey the skills acquired as: A professional with more than 15 years’ experience in team leadership, supply chain management, inventory control, etc. Remember to state the exact keywords as mentioned in the job description.
- Recognize the transferability of your military experience: While there would be specific qualities that you would have attained owing to the particular position you held in the forces, there are several other highly sought after soft as well as functional skills that you would have gained by sheer virtue of being in the military. The VMock platform, for instance, guides you to present such competencies of your work history through your resume. Taking ownership of projects amidst challenge and adversity (Leadership skills), or collaborating with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds (Inter-personal skills), an international outlook due to travelling to far-flung locations, your deftness in adapting to dynamic work scenarios are examples that come to mind.
- Produce Impactful bullets: While citing your past military experience, focus on the specifics, magnitude, scope and outcome of the tasks you list. It is one of the most potent resume builder tools. The recruiter should be able to discern the distinct value you bring to the company, once he/she runs through your resume. So, while formulating bullets, define the content in clear quantifiable/tangible terms. How many people did you manage, what was the improvement due to the tasks that you performed and by how much? Who were the beneficiaries of your work-your squad, supervisor?
An example of an impactful bullet would be: Led a team of 15 infantrymen ensuring execution of plans in high-pressure combat environment for 4 months continuously.
Do’s and Don’ts: Please ensure that you proof-read and proof-read your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors. Such mistakes indicate how sincerely you view your work and the importance you place on quality. Do not include any jarring fonts (Comic Sans-NO!) or colors. Mention your contact information explicitly avoiding any unprofessional email addresses. Please remember to mention your security clearance details along with the relevant level as it is one of the most vital pieces of information a veteran can provide an employer.
So, go ahead and integrate your military experience in your resume by ascertaining its transferable value. Remember the basics. Bring the specific impact of your past experience onto your resume in the most civilian friendly way. After all, the value you state should convey the honor, courage, commitment and sacrifice that is collectively felt on each Veterans Day.