Compare your resume to a car listing on the internet. If you are seeking a car, you have certain criteria to include size, use, function…etc. Ultimately, you purchase a vehicle based on your return on investment, longevity of the vehicle and utilization of its features. If you want low gas mileage, have no kids and don’t own a lot of stuff, you could seek a compact car. If you have a farm, 10 dogs and like to go hunting, the truck or SUV is more suitable.
“Matt, how does this relate to jobs?”
Employers want to get the best bang for their buck. Your pay is often relative to the amount of business you produce, or your skill level and its impact on keeping business flowing. How do they find you? With recruiters or job postings. In many application processes, the candidates with the most comparable experience are the ones who get the interview. You don’t test drive bulldozers when your spouse has requested a golf-cart, in other words. Recruiters and hiring managers are exceptionally busy, so your advertisement (or resume) MUST be the most relevant and attractive.
Attractive doesn’t mean “the most stuff,” like some cars. Attractive means you have exactly what they want. Attractive means you are really able to utilize your skills for the position. A 4×4 SUV isn’t worth the purchase if the 4×4 only works 30% of the time.
Having marketable skills and/or gaining said skills are key. A lot of transitioning military personnel tend to over exaggerate or mis-market their “military-specific” skills. Example: The Army Supply Administrator whose resume is seeking a physical security position. There are many who get out of the military and go after security and law enforcement jobs. It used to be that there were contractor jobs available…but withdraw from Iraq and downsizing operations left those resources a bit more limited. Law enforcement jobs aren’t always available, and have exceptional competition…and police departments are rarely (if ever) searching resume boards.
Weapons handling, military specific jargon, non-professional activities… etc. don’t belong on a resume… even for a security/police job. Employers want a professional, not an action figure.
A sales team wants a salesman. Were you an NCO? If so, you probably know how to take charge of a conversation, speak to an executive, make an action report, and devise a plan of “attack.” These are things most of your recent grad counterparts likely haven’t done yet. Are you able to work in high stress and fast-paced environments? Guess what, most people (realistically) cannot.
You won’t rule the world in one day.
What? Don’t go after a marketing job, with a mechanic’s resume. Crazy? It happens all the time. If you are applying for an entry-level position and your resume says “I want to be the CEO,” chances are you will be passed up. It’s good to have aspirations, but unrealistic expectations of your potential employer will lead to a lack of opportunity for you.
Don’t get deterred when you get shot down. In MOST of corporate America, four or eight years in the military doesn’t automatically qualify you for a corporate manger-level job… It’s just the way it is. Get in the door, prove yourself, and you may get promoted. NOTHING is guaranteed and there are no entitlements out here. Your proven actions and successes will speak louder than anything.
You are coming from a different world and lifestyle, so naturally it will be a difficult transition. BUT there are lots of places and people who want to help you get there. Don’t just settle for halfway. Get out there and be competitive.
Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.
*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.