A resume is an advertisement for you – designed solely to show what you can do immediately for an employer, so that they will contact you.

1. Focus, Focus, Focus!

Before you create your resumes, focus on the specific type of work you want to do and the organizations you want to work with. This takes self-analysis and research. But no employer cares that you can do 2-3 different things, they want someone who knows their best skills and can demonstrate how they will contribute to the organization immediately.

Learn and use ‘civilian’ terms. This is your ‘battle plan’ foundation. Then create marketing materials: resume, social media profiles, business cards – which clearly show why hiring you is an obvious choice.

2. Start with a Summary and Headline.

Use a headline that tells what job you seek.  Then put your summary (without a title) immediately below it.
Summaries show experiences, skills, and attributes as they apply to employer’s needs. Create your summary by highlighting your most relevant achievements and strengths. Go for clear, concise, and memorable – grab the reader’s attention. Skip buzzwords and lists of attributes, demonstrate those with actual achievements.
Do as bullets or a short paragraph:

  • Experienced team leader known for training and developing highly productive staff
  • Recognized for intelligence data analytic skills and ability to spot trends
  • Selected to lead joint foreign/US team which developed more effective security practices

3. Show Your Achievements.

Demonstrate how your past experience and knowledge will contribute to the job and organization right now. Don’t pretend you were not in the military. But do use keywords and terms relevant to your targeted employer.

Skip job duties, tell what you actually did. Detail the situation or task, your actions, and the results. Quantify what you can. Remember that many of the things you did as extra duties or to support your work become vital elements to meet job requirements, so use those successes.

  • Appointed Team Leader revising supervisor training to support safety and security efforts in combat operations, created new program within 60 days which reduced accidents and injuries immediately.
  • Took over failing function, within 90 days built effective team, improved critical metrics, closed all overdue items, and function received high ratings on re-evaluation.
  • Researched, wrote, and presented daily intelligence summaries to national command authority.

4. Tailor Your Resume for Success

Once you have created a master resume of all your experiences and achievements, learn to select and tailor the most relevant parts to create each resume you need.

Use the keywords that are current for your field, the employer, and for the specific job.

5. Get the Basics Right.

  • Make it easy to read – plenty of white space, easy to read font, bullet points, limited use of fancy formatting.
  • Have a professional email address; list one phone number with voice mail; show your LinkedIn or similar profile URL.
  • Keep it professional. Omit personal interests and activities unless directly related to the job.
  • One – Two pages max. One if you have under 10 years experience, two otherwise. This shows you can focus on the most relevant work to support your goals.  Most preferred format is reverse chronological with current job shown first.
  • Tell more about most recent jobs, less about earlier ones. Dump jobs that are more than 10-15 years ago or create a simple summary sentence.
  • Clearly show your degrees and any relevant certifications, training, or other education.  If you have a BA/BS, you do not need to show any AA/AS or HS education.

Then have other people look at it and give you ideas to improve it.  All of us have difficulty writing our resumes effectively – but, with support and practice, you can do a fine job to support your transition job search.