Military Transition: Resume Concepts

Military Transition: Resume Concepts

What you don’t do in the military: write resumes, interview for a job (normally), and you never negotiate salary and compensation. What you will do during your transition is write resumes, interview for a job and negotiate salary and compensation.

Can you imagine negotiating compensation for your next tour of duty? “Ma’am I am really interested in your offer but can you arrange for me to telecommute on Fridays and get me a free membership at the country club?” And that is not the only hurdle you may have to overcome…some employers have a few ill-perceived notions about you and the military:
  • You are rigid
  • You don’t understand profit and loss
  •  You have had unlimited resources
  •  Leading is easy because you just give orders
These misled perceptions can create barriers, but a well prepared and focused resume will dispel all of these notions and set you up for success.

An effective way to create the building blocks of your resume is to produce a core or mega resume with 75 to 100 accomplishments. These accomplishments should include results, i.e., percentages, dollars, time and opportunity capitalized on. If possible, you will want to include how you achieved the accomplishment through leadership, restructuring, collaboration, etc. Your completed mega resume can be used as a source to draft each new resume for each specific objective or job interest.

So, how important is it to determine an objective, industry or specific job interest? Yogi Berra said “If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.”  You will need to focus on an objective or a limited number of objectives. Consider what you want to do which should be some combination of your skill sets, what you like to do and what someone will pay you to do.  Before moving on with your resume draft there are two important aspects of job hunting that go hand in hand with your resume development, Networking and Research.

Network, network, network…we have all heard the buzz that networking contributes to job hunting success, but how important is it? According to Gevry Grispin and Mark Mehler, CareerXRoads, You are 54 times more likely to get hired if an employee of your target company refers you than if you posted your resume on every large job board at the same time! Networking also adds resources you can leverage during your resume draft and interview process. And along with networking you will want to build your industry knowledge-base through research.

Researching your objective industry for local, national and international trends and building an historical prospective will add to your depth and breadth of knowledge and allow you to capitalize on opportunity. As you build a more comprehensive picture of your objective landscape you will be better prepared to put down on paper or relate verbally how you uniquely solve your future employer’s problems.

With your completed mega resume you can pick and choose from the list of your accomplishments that best support your objective. Each job you apply for should be supported with a unique and focused resume resulting from your research, job description, and duties.

One common resume challenge for military members is writing in the proper language, i.e., non-Department of Defense terms. Avoid acronyms and ensure that you translate your accomplishments and duties into business related terms according to your objective.

Resumes have one purpose…to get you an interview! According to the McLean Group, your resume should SHOUT from the mountain tops: I know what you need, I can do it, I can prove I did it, I can tell you how I did it, and I can do it again. It is not just about your responsibilities. It may sound impressive to state that you were responsible for $100,000 in operating capital but the reader does not know if you squandered it or improved your organization with it.  Remember it is more about your accomplishments; what did you do that resulted in improvements or how did you save money or time? You restructured, changed processes, empowered teams, motivated, collaborated, etc.

There are several resume formats: chronological, functional and combination. Your choice may depend on your particular objective and target industry. The combination resume works well most of the time because the first page states your accomplishments that support your skills sets and objective while the second page details chronological or professional history, and describes your work history and experience. It is recommended by several job hunting agencies to keep your resume down to no more than two pages in length. If you wish to make it any longer…don’t.


There are many resources available that offer resume templates and formats. You may even hire someone to write it for you, but be advised there is valuable learning in the process of developing your own resume. An objective is needed to give you a goal or direction, strong networking and research builds a solid industry knowledge base, and creating a mega resume can assist in drafting multiple resumes, not to mention giving you an interview resource. Never lose sight of the purpose of your resume...to get you an interview!

Randy Blackmon is Senior Enrollment Manager for USG eCore and eMajor, and is a retired U.S. Navy Captain.
rblackmo@westga.edu
678-839-4898

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