Dec 10

Writing Your Resume

Alright, so you’ve answered the 4 Big questions and now your finances are in order and you know how much you need to make when you get out, you’ve decided on a location to live (fully knowing the tradeoff), you are clear on why you’re getting out, and you know what type of career you want to pursue.  The last one is the most important for this next step- Writing your resume.

There are two types of military resumes that i’ve seen.  Either the 5-10 page dissertation, or the 90 word crayon scribble with “Lorem Ipsum” still on it somewhere.  “What’s wrong with a 5 page resume,” you ask? Read on, i’ll explain.

If you’re the second type, go smoke yourself, you’re not emotionally ready to get out of the Army.  I’m sorry if the first sergeant yelled at you and now your feelings are hurt and you want to get out, but you’re not ready to be a big boy and market yourself.  You still need the structure the Army provides and it’s the only place you stand a chance of getting a good salary and a retirement.  It’s for your own good, you’ve got that brand new Camaro that still needs paid off.

Your resume is your key to a job and if you don’t take it seriously, neither will a recruiter.  It’s the document that is going to get you into an interview room and the first step in getting that job.

Researchers at theladders.com found that recruiters spend 6 seconds looking at your resume.  Six seconds. That’s how much time you have to make an impression.  Here’s what they’re looking at:

Here is some advice on how to visually organize your resume.

Alright, for those of you that are serious about getting a good job, take a look at your resume, does it have something like this on it?

“Lead and train a 35 man airborne infantry platoon…responsible for $1,000,000 worth of equipment…fight and win.”

Yeah, me too at first.  My resume was five pages that described literally every single junior military officer that had ever served in the 82nd Airborne division.  Your resume needs to be about you and your skills, not about the Army’s definition of your job title.

In the 4 big questions, you identified what career you want, and I told you that “lead people” is an option.  When I first got out, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted  leadership role, so with the help and advice of my headhunter, I revised my resume to focus on my leadership skills.  Instead of that long ass job description, I replaced that entire text with something I did, specifically.

STAR- I’ll talk about this more in a later post, but everything from your interview answers to your resume bullets need to be in a STAR format- Situation, Task, Action, Result.  Take this bullet for example

  • As my unit prepared to come home, I created the transition plan for 500 soldiers in southern Iraq to include branches and contingencies resulting in zero casualties during the most dangerous time in a deployment.

Can you find the STAR in it?  In 35 words I explained something that I actually did, and since I was applying for a program manager position that requires planning capabilities, this bullet particularly resonated.  If I was applying for a leadership position, I would say something like, “lead a team that created the plan”.  Both are true, but they are targeted at the job.  Later when I talked about that in my interview, it helped make an impression on my interviewer and they remembered me later.

So now go back and look at your resume.  Read what you have on there and ask yourself, “does this apply to me, or everyone like me?”  If it doesn’t apply to JUST YOU, delete it, you don’t need that crap.

If you’re retiring you get 2 pages for your resume, everyone else, you get one…that’s right ONE page.  Your entire career to this point needs to be in one well organized, clean, easy to read, mistake free page.

Your most recent job is first and you get 3 bullets for it, explain what YOU did.  Every other job gets two bullets max.

Job Descriptions- If your jobs say something like this:

Assistant G2 Plans and OPS 20th SUPCOM CBRNE May-2009 to May 2010, you need to change that shit.  No one in the civilian world understands what the hell that is, heck half of the guys in the military don’t know what that is.

Instead highlight the skills in the job description

Division level Intelligence Planner, Worldwide Counter WMD May 2009 to May 2010, same job, but now it tells a story. Also notice that since I was applying for a job that requires planning ability that I brought that part of the job into focus.

This isn’t an easy task, and you’re going to need several go’s at it before you have something ready to show to your headhunter…and i’ll talk about getting a headhunter later…right now you have to go work on your resume.

Comment here or contact me if you have specific questions and want honest feedback.


1 comment

  1. David Weber

    The typical resume format is to put experience first. I have found that if you are transitioning to a new career putting education, certifications and skills first can be helpful. Put the most relevant things first. And if you had a filler job that has no relevance to the job you are applying to, keep it on the resume to keep the timeline intact, but shorten the description. Expand the description on the more relevant jobs.
    Imagine if your resume actually landed you an interview, what would you want to tell them about yourself. Get that information on the resume!

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