In the military, we learn that actions speak louder than words. In the case of employment, the action of getting your foot in the door often comes down to the words on paper in the form of a resume. We all understand that job applications require a resume, but service members often wish that their experiences would speak for themselves. Unfortunately, that is not the case and the common theme from employers is that they would love to hire veterans, but veterans are not good at selling themselves.
The solution is in the resume. A resume is designed to detail and chronicle your relevant experience and act as a marketing tool to a human resources representative on why you are the right person to hire. A resume is not something which is etched into stone; it is a constantly evolving and ever changing document. It should adjust with the position that is being applied for, and reflect the very best side of you as an applicant.
The most important aspect to remember is that you are applying for the job, not the other way around. This is the opposite of the military, where a service member is put on assignment and fills a job until they are sent somewhere else. Since it is an application process, it requires that you be competitive with those who are applying. This can be done by a few simple actions:
1) Identify who you are and what you bring as your core skills:
I am an enterprising midlevel manager who consistently integrates teams towards common unifying themes. Able to identify areas for process improvement and follow through by developing a project management focused alignment of organizational vision and daily operational planning. I am technically strong in: project management, conflict resolution, lean processes, efficiency systems and budgetary analysis.
Each person will have different skills to discuss, but the introduction should take a look at some of the key words from the job posting. Are they looking for someone who can teletype, someone with sales experience, or even someone who has an engineering background? If they use specific word sets and it is applicable, put them into your resume introduction in a way that expresses you. As you noticed, there is not a single reference towards the military. It simply is not required. In many cases, you will find that just adding the employer as US Army can be enough. Use common themes to translate those skills over to the civilian side. There are quite a few websites like the Military Skills Translator and Military OneSource page out there. Use them, they are tools!
2) List your work experiences chronologically and list different sections based on levels of responsibility:
Operations Team Leader
US Army, Fort Bragg, NC
– Led and developed a team of four individuals in attaining and refining key organizational goals. Rated the top team leader out of twelve.
-Responsible for managing, maintaining, and organizing $300,000 in equipment over a 14 month period. Developed inspection process to account for and turn in excess equipment.
-Directly mentored and trained two subordinates and oversaw their retention and eventual promotion, meeting organizational goals for two fiscal quarters.
Operations Team Member
US Army, Fort Bragg, NC
-Part of a five person operational team which focused on developing and training core organizational goals and tasks. Recognized by senior leaders for exemplary actions during two major company events.
-Recognized by midlevel managers in organizational boarding process – placed second out of 500 person company.
Both of these assess an individual by utilizing qualitative and quantitative means to demonstrate capabilities. This person was a team leader, but they were the best team leader out of 12 others. Not only did the person pass a Soldier of the Month board, but they took second out of 500 people. The combination of these two aspects helps to show not only who you are, but how effective you are as well.
3) Highlight specific skills or certifications that have been acquired:
Experience should not be undervalued; it just has to be equated to something easily understandable.
“MRAP driver” is not nearly as effective as “primary driver for a 25 ton wheeled vehicle, conducted more than 8,000 continuous miles without incident.”
“Ordered supply parts” does not truly convey the reality that you organized a sustainable logistical network which supported 131 personnel in four different locations utilizing just-in-time logistical elements.
Speaks German and English does not quantify that you are Fluent in English and conversational in German.
Listing that you are EMT-Basic qualified does not represent that you are Nationally certified as an EMT-Basic with more than 1,700 hours of experience as the lead medical practitioner while maintaining HIPAA standards.
Remember that your service is something you should be proud of. Do not undervalue your efforts. Just make sure that you are honest about them and explain them in a way that everyone can understand.
4) Keep the military verbiage to a minimum:
When a new Soldier shows up at your unit, it does not matter if they used to run a cable and internet company before they joined. All that matters is that they know how to fix your internet problems. The same is true for military members joining the civilian side. They don’t care that you were a Machine Gunner, but it does matter that you were able to organize and synchronize a highly proficient team towards common goals while maintaining high levels of equipment maintenance – achieving a 100% standard for operational readiness. They want to hire you for your skills, not your previous role.
At the end of the day, the most important opinion about your resume is the employer’s. They are the ones that identify whether or not it meets their criteria. While you may be “rapidly deployable to close with and destroy your enemies,” your practical application of that as a sales clerk may be difficult to express. So take the time, sit down with mentors, advisors, resume coaches, even your friends who are civilians, and have them take a look at your resume. It will help to get their opinions and you will be prepared for the time when you transition out of the military and start looking for jobs on the civilian sector.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.