It’s remarkable… You excelled in the military without a resume. Your services were needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you were selected to join elite teams. No resumes were needed. But now you’re a civilian, and the resume is your key to unlock future opportunities. It won’t guarantee entry into every organization, but it’s a necessary step.
FollowSwitch’s list below, and you’ll be on your way:
1. Keep it simple, keep it brief. You can’t explain what a sonar technician, infantryman, etc, is in a line or two. So don’t try. Also, don’t use words that are too fancy. The resume must focus on brief descriptions of what you did in a particular role. This closely ties to #2.
2. So what?? Use the PAR model as much as possible.
– Problem (what was the challenge?)
– Action (what did you do?)
– Result (what was the result of your efforts?)
The resume isn’t a list of everything you’ve done. You need to describe the impact, and you should quantify it as much as possible. For example, you organized 120 convoys that traveled 6000 miles to deliver all supplies to the base throughout the deployment.
3. It’s all about the verbs. Each position will have two or more bullets under it. Each of those bullets should start with a verb (“Led”, “Organized”, “Maintained”, etc). You can google “resume verbs by category” to find a list of suggested verbs for your resume. Click here for an example. Note – the verbs are all past tense unless you are currently doing that particular role.
Two hints… First, the past tense of “Lead” is “Led”. Second, instead of using “led” multiple times throughout the resume, consider synonyms (“Managed”, “Directed”, etc) or simply focusing on a different action for that description (“Planned”, “Facilitated”, “Implemented”, etc).
4. Lost in translation. You know at least two languages – English and Military. Unfortunately, your future employer doesn’t speak military, and they aren’t going to find an interpreter. That means you have to work a little harder. Use a military skills translator to get you started. But, make sure that you adapt the translations to the job and role that you’re applying for.
5. Help me help you. The resume isn’t simply a way to showcase all that you’ve done. The company posted that job for a reason – They need help solving a problem. Study the job description and write your resume to show how you can help. If you’re going to a job fair, you may not know specific positions available, but you can study the companies that will attend and create resumes that generally match a company’s strategy.
6. Qualifications and awards. Earning the expert pistol and expert rifle certifications are impressive accomplishments in the military. Civilians may think that they’re cool, but unless you’re applying for a job that requires small arms expertise leave this out. Are there any qualifications that you earned in the military that are relevant to civilian professions? Were you Sailor of the Quarter/Year?
You should list your top medals and awards, but don’t list your entire ribbon/medal collection. If you earned a Bronze Star, for example, list it. It should appear in the description for a particular role. For example, “Awarded Bronze Star for executing 130 combat missions while overseeing 75 personnel.”
7. Contact info. Of course you’re going to survive the zombie apocalypse, but please keep your personal email professional. If your email is Zombiekiller@gmail.com, make a new one. Consider email@example.com, or something similar.
8. Triple check. Even then… you’re not done. You want to ensure that the resume reads correctly. Check the spelling. Read it out loud. Ask people who have no military background to read it. Do they understand all of the terms? Do they think it highlights your greatest skills?
Please send any questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2012 SwitchStarter, LLC