Applying for a job in the civilian world is a multi-step process that starts with the resume. Basically, it is your resume along with your cover letter that gets you in the door for an interview. But, the modern resume is not like your father’s resume. Today, it serves as a database of your skills and experiences, and is often scanned into the employer’s personal computer system to be reviewed by various algorithms. The algorithmic search is what is new in today’s job market. It is a keyword search where the employer tries to find a match between the skills and experiences he needs and the candidate. As techniques continue to change, it is very important to understand how the employer will view and use your resume.
In the past, there were two types of resumes: skills-based and experience-based. Now your resume needs be a hybrid version, including both a skills section and an experience section. The skills section may be the most important in making the initial employer/candidate match to get you an interview. So, what to do? How do you list your skills gained in the military? Remember, the military skills terminology may not always match the civilian terminology. I was an 0205 Battalion/Brigade-level Communications Officer. That means nothing to most employers. But, breaking it down: I managed wire crews for landline communications, a telecommunications network, and a UHF radio net. This means much more to a civilian employer, but it is still not quite good enough. You need to better match exact terminology used by today’s employers. A better description would be: managed wired, wireless communications, and encrypted digital networks. The chances for a match are greatly enhanced with these revisions. It is always best to look at the employer’s job descriptions and employment ads to see the best, current, state-of-the-art terminology for your skill set. This will improve your chances of getting matched and granted an interview.
One last reminder - there is no shortcut to getting the job you want. It is always best to research the company you want to work for and write a custom resume and cover letter for each position you apply for. With computer-based word processing, it is not difficult to customize each resume!
Do you have any tips on how to create a more attractive resume in today’s job market?
Pat Hefferan lead a Signal Platoon in Vietnam (1971-2), and afterword had a long business career in the Electronics Industry, where he hired hundreds of employees and read thousands of resumes.
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