Looking for Military To Civilian Resume Tips? We Got You!

Over the years, I’ve looked at plenty of resumes while in management or supervisory positions. Some of them were humorous, filled with misspelled words, obnoxious fonts, unorganized information, even ridiculous accomplishments (high score in a video game – really?)
Some of them were plain, and thus passed over, with boring descriptions of educational and work history, or an objective such as “I wish to obtain a job that has potential for the future.” Then there were the ones that really grabbed my attention – they looked sharp with to-the-point, well-written descriptions, nicely laid out without too much information, no grammar or spelling errors, and easy-to-find contact information. It was these resumes that got someone in the door to an interview.

I’m not going to write a list of “Resume Do’s and Don’ts” – there are plenty of those available with a quick Google search. I’m also going to assume that you understand that even the most basic job application (read: Blockbuster Video clerk) should always be accompanied by a resume . . . . always. What I’m going to do here is go over what a potential employer actually sees when they’re reading your resume. Of course, this is all based on my own experiences, being on both sides of this situation, as well as the experiences of business associates of mine, so take this all for what it’s worth. That is, I want to help you get a good job fo follow these military to civilian resume tips.

1) First impressions are everything. First impressions also typically happen in the first eight seconds, so resumes with any kind of obvious visual flaws, such as a water stain, a small rip, a weird font, a small font, or cluttered info, are not likely to get looked at. Sloppy resume = sloppy person = someone who isn’t going to get hired.

2) Grammar Nazi. I am happy to admit that I am a spelling and grammar Nazi. One common spelling error? I’ll overlook it if the rest of the resume is solid. More than one error, or something that the average person should have caught in a proofread? Hello garbage can. If someone doesn’t care enough to proofread their resume, I don’t care enough to read it at all.

3) One size does not fit all. When I’m hiring someone new, their future and their loyalty are of particular interest to me, so if they don’t know much about what we do around here or what they’d like to do around here, they’re probably not the right person for the job. I can spot a “blanket resume” within the first few seconds, and that means that the writer probably isn’t that interested in working with a specific company.

4) It’s not a novel. A potential employer does not want to read a novel about your life. A single page resume is enough for the majority of people out there. If I pick up a resume that looks like an application for a security clearance, it’s a no-go.

5) A place for everything, everything in its place. If I can’t figure out if this line goes with this section or that one, I’m losing interest. Organization is important in every job I’ve ever hired people for, and your resume is the first place to show that you can put things where they ought to be. Like your name at the top, for instance. I personally like resumes with bullet points and some extra lines or “white space” between sections that help me stay dialed in to where I was, since I may be going back and forth from your resume to your application, or to you during an interview.

6) Boring descriptions. “Platoon Sergeant for 3rd BCT, 82nd ABN.” That doesn’t sound cool to everyone; in fact, it sounds boring, and I’m not interesting in boring. “Worked directly with a commanding officer from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division to maintain a high level of training standards, unit cohesion, and operational efficiency for a group of 40 people.” Now that’s better – lots of good key words in there that show me that you have some real experience leading people and maintaining goals.

Remember: your resume shouldn’t be written to get you the job, but rather to get you in the door for an interview, and that’s where you can really shine. What a potential employer sees at an interview, however, is a whole other article. Bear in mind, first impressions are everything.