A resume is an advertisement for what you offer an employer. Far too many people don’t understand this. How do you show what you offer an employer when your experience and success has come in the military environment?
Focus on your achievements!
The smartest thing you can do on your resume is to demonstrate your past successes. These are your achievements, your accomplishments, your record of actions and results. The basic formula for this is fairly easy:
* Situation or task you faced
* Actions you took
Think about your various military jobs. What specific aspects of your work did you do that you really liked, where you felt you made a difference? These become your successes – your achievements. Translate them into ‘civilian’ language – take a look at O’Net and Military Crosswalk for help with that. And then you turn them into bullet points on your resume.
Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for a pattern of success, of growth, of accomplishments that are relevant to their needs. You can create your resume to effectively meet their needs and get you interviews.
Here are two real examples – one Army Infantry, one Marine – from recent military resumes I have seen. First is the excerpt from the resume and following it is a better way to express the work so that a hiring manager will be interested. These should give you some ideas on how to effectively create your own achievements.
“Worked as Infantry Mortar 11C as a team and individual to provide security and stability to the local populous while deployed, trained for missions and operations, and kept inventory of weaponry and supplies. Managed lower rank mortar men by counseling, training, and deployment preparation.”
From this portion of a paragraph, here are some useful resume bullets:
* While serving in a combat zone, trained and led 10 person mortar team to successfully protect and defend villagers.
* Tracked and managed inventory of weapons and supplies on a daily basis to eliminate shortages and ensure adequate resources were always available.
* Selected to train, develop, counsel, and ensure all team members were ready for deployment. Results included very low injury rate and successful deployment and return.
These bullet points more clearly demonstrate someone who has been successfully leading others, creating teamwork, has been recognized for his abilities, and has managed some logistics.
“While in the Marine Corps I also acted as a Monitor Survey and Decontamination; Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (MSD,NBC) Marine. While serving as an MSD,NBC Marine, I was in charge of all protective clothing, gas masks, and chemical monitoring systems used by my company in the event of a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack during combat operations. While serving in this position I was also in charge of training all the Marines in my Company on how to Decontaminate themselves and one another in a chemical or biological attack. I also was in charge of the placement, issuing, and use of detection tape and kits used to detect chemical and biological contaminants within a given area…… Because of the proficiency of my team as well as myself, we were appointed as the Battalion Commanders personal decontamination team…..”
This long, dense paragraph could become:
* Selected for and successfully completed training in nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) treat detection, monitoring, and decontamination.
* Trained all members of my military unit on NBC detection and decontamination procedures and on decontamination of others in area to ensure everyone was protected and fully prepared in event of such an attack.
* Maintained equipment and systems inventory and deployed monitoring and treatment equipment effectively to ensure entire 180-person unit was protected during combat operations.
* Selected to provide personal decontamination to Battalion Commander and his executives, as needed wherever they were, to ensure operations continued.
These bullet points highlight someone who has a recognized record of achievement in training, logistics, teamwork, and personal responsibility.
When you are translating your military experience into accomplishments which make sense to a civilian employer, keep your focus on what work you want to do. Then write your resume demonstrating the achievements you have had which are most relevant to that work. Almost every military job has some aspects of civilian work skills, even those combat-related jobs shown above. But which accomplishments you focus on among the many you have is your choice – choose those which matter to the work you want to do next.
Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Specialist. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.