Transitioning Veterans: 12 Things to Edit on Your Resume ASAP

1. NAME and ADDRESS

Your name should be bold and CAPITALIZED at the top of your resume, using a larger font size. Your phone number, email and Linkedin profile (if you have one) should follow below in a smaller font size.  Example:

JENA R. MULLER

(424) 253-8626 

jenamuller@email.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenamuller/

Address:  People do not need to know where you live to consider you for a position. With privacy protection being particularly important these days, especially for those transitioning from the military, it is best not to put your address on the resume.

2. PHONE NUMBER & EMAIL

Your phone number should be a personal contact, preferably your cell phone number.  It isn’t a good idea to use your work phone number or home phone number because it is not a direct line to you.  Someone could answer on your behalf and potentially cause you to lose your interview.  When posting your phone number on your resume, the word Phone: does not need to be inserted before your phone number.  

Example of how to display your phone number:  (424)253-8626

An email address helps potential employers contact you for setting up the interview, follow up questions, etc.  It is in your best interest to use a personal professional email address. Using email addresses from your current employer or that do not consist of your name are not advised.

Example of what not to use: johnsmom86@email.com

It’s wonderful that you are John’s mother, but it is not a school PTA email chain. So it is advised to use a form of your own name.

Example of what to use: jenamuller@email.com

Notice in the above examples I never used the word Email: prior to the email address examples.  Email addresses are easily recognized as such and common protocol on resumes is to let them stand alone.

Something to add to your resume is your Linkedin profile link below your email address. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenamuller/

3. COLORS

Using colored fonts on your resume can seem like a great idea to get potential employers’ attention. This is not true . Colors are distracting and take away from your goal, which is to be noticed for your accomplishments.  Remember in the movie Legally Blonde when Elle Woods gives her professor a copy of her pink scented resume? It doesn’t give it a little something extra, Elle… Black font is all that is needed to get your point across. The key to that is formatting.

I have posted a basic formatting article if you wish to read more about formatting https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/best-resume-formatting-transitioning-veteran-2017-jena-muller

4. MILITARY AWARDS & HONORS & CERTIFICATIONS

I personally am very proud of all the awards, honors and laundry list of certifications that our heroic men and women receive while defending my freedom.  Your resume, however, is not the ideal place to tell your potential civilian employer about ribbons and awards.  Translating these awards into achievements within your Professional Experience will help your potential employer better relate to you and what you have done. While having your awards listed at the bottom of your Master Resume is a good idea for easy access if/when needed, they are taking up valuable real estate to keep them on your resume when applying for jobs.  Also note, a Master Resume is for you to keep and use if requested.  Whatever resume you send out should match your LinkedIn, Indeed, or any other job search websites you may be on.  If potential employers check your profile and your resumes do not line up, there is a good chance they will toss yours in the trash.

 When applying for government jobs you should have a separate resume, a Military Master Resume, that professionally states your Military Experience, Awards, Honors, Deployments, Certifications etc., which can be found on your DD214. These resumes are usually 4 pages in length. The government requires a ton of detail that civilian employers do not.

Certifications that do not pertain to your future career should not be listed under Education.  Being a certified Jump Master is fantastic. You may even suffer a little vertebrae issue from landing too hard once or twice, but it simply doesn’t help you get the Human Resource position.  However, being certified in Human Resource as a Naval Recruiter will! 

5. HIGH SCHOOL & MULTIPLE UNIVERSITIES

By law, you have to have a diploma from high school to enter into the military. Prior to this law, you could have a Certificate of High School Equivalency (GED). So there is no reason to ever post high school information on your resume unless you were applying for colleges in your junior and senior year of high school.  If that were the case, you wouldn’t be a transitioning veteran.

Sometimes it may take you a while to finish your bachelor degree.  You may attend four different schools and obtain an associate degree in general education before graduating with your bachelor degree.  The only university you will put on your resume is the one you received your bachelor’s degree from in that particular field of study.

Example of what not to do: 

UNIVERSITY OF SCHOOL, New York, NY

 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Diploma) 8/09 – 5/11

UNIVERSITY OF ANOTHER SCHOOL, San Diego, CA

Bachelor of Science in Business 1/08 – 5/09

COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF SCHOOL, Austin, TX

 Associate in Business Administration

An associate degree that doesn’t come with a certification of some sort is really only considered general education.  To be useful for your resume you will want it to provide something extra, like a Certified Associate in Project Management.  An associate degree obtained simply at another school but in the same field of study as your bachelor’s is not needed on your resume.  Example of how to list a bachelor’s degree  and a certified associate degree that does not relate to your bachelor’s:

UNIVERSITY OF SCHOOL, New York, NY

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF SCHOOL, AUSTIN, TX

Certified Associate in Project Management

For those with a master and/or doctorate, you should list your degrees in descending chronological order, starting with the doctorate, master and then bachelor.

6.  REFERENCES & PAST/PRESENT SUPERVISOR

Please do not give out your personal and professional references’ information on your resume. I personally would not be ok with Eric giving all potential employers my personal number, email, and home address on his resume.

You do not need to state, References Upon Request.  The job application form will usually have a section for information on references.

Adding your current and/or past Supervisor’s information is never a good idea. You may think this makes things easier for your potential employer.  Do you really want potential employers calling and asking questions before you even get an interview?  Of course not!  Leave supervisor information off your resume.

7. FORMAT

Formatting is so important for multiple reasons.  Most potential employers have an applicant tracking system (ATS).  The ATS uploads your resume and looks for keywords to filter applicants best suited for the position.  When you have all sorts of headers and footers, logos, text boxes, etc., the ATS does not always translate your information correctly and could cause you to miss out on that position.  Adding stylistic flourishes to your resume is not advised, as with color (above .  Keep it clean and simple.  You want to be sure all potential employers know within the first 6 seconds you are the qualified candidate for the position applied for.

8. RANK

Considering that I edit resumes for transitioning veterans, it is wonderful when I do not need to look at their DD214 because they provided me with all information needed on their resume.  However, potential employers within the civilian job market have no idea what a J9, E6, Sergeant, G3 or WO2 is.  Leave this information on your DD214 and your I love me wall.  In my house, it is called the I love my husband wall.  When we started dating, he was humbly collecting everything in boxes.

9. OLD RANDOM JOBS

If prior to going into the military you worked at the local movie theater, grocery store, country club, fitness center, etc., please do not add this to your resume.  It is irrelevant and does not pertain to your next career.  Most employers want to know what you have done most recently and how those skills and education will you make you an asset to their companies.  So if you have been in the military for over 12 years, do not add past positions that will not help you get hired in your future position.  However, if you received a degree, had a lucrative career for a few years prior to going into the military, were in the military for 3-11 years, and are now transitioning out then yes, add that! Just note the most important job is the one you did within the last 2-5 years.  As in all careers, we are expected to grow and advance up the ladder.  So it is important that the last 2-5 years experience portray our highest qualifying attributes to the potential employer.

10. LONG RESUME

When you are transitioning out of the military you may have had 8 different positions and find yourself listing everything in detail.  This can make resumes 4-8 pages long.  No potential employer has the time to read all of that, nor do they want to sift through all your details to find the main qualifications they are looking for in a candidate.  Your resume should be no longer than 2 pages.  If it is, then you may want to consider how you are explaining yourself on paper, what to omit, and a format suitable to have the most important information on the first page.  You want the most important information seen within 6 seconds of looking at your resume.  So for the transitioning veteran, this means being sure your skill bullets (or clusters), education and most relevant experience is on page 1.  Everyone has his own preference for how this should flow.  Often it will depend on what you did in the military, your education, and your plans for your next career path.  Just be sure the most important information is on page 1.

What you want on page 1:  BRIEF SUMMARY, SKILLS, EDUCATION, MILITARY EXPERIENCE often leaving omitting dates as in a functional format. But again, this can depend on the person and what he did while in the military. There is no one right way in resume writing, which is why there are multiple formats. Transitioning veterans should always consider a flow that displays their most important assets and qualifications at the forefront, and then provides their military experiences in descending chronological order.

11. TOO MUCH INFORMATION

Your summary and military experience should get right to the point, leaving the emotion out of the message, and concisely stating the facts.  A summary taking up more than 6 lines is too long.  Get straight to the facts regarding your accomplishments and qualifications.  Be sure not use “I” statements and always talk in past tense when writing your summary.

Example, of what not to write: “I am an experienced and elite operator who has proven myself an asset to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group for the past 6+ years….

Example, of what to write: “Operations Management Leader with 6+ years of proven success and experience within the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. Planned and executed several deployment training procedures….”

The only time to use the present tense on your resume is when stating your present job description.  When you begin to add your achievements under your present position, be sure they are written in past tense, as they have already been achieved.

Example of what to do for present position description:

Operations Manager Maximize operational efficiency and cost effectiveness while guiding efforts of 20 staff and directing initial qualification training for worldwide expeditionary operations.  Develop and execute strategic planning, ensuring alignment with short- and long-range objectives.  Articulate goals and evaluate staff performance, providing individualized coaching to foster excellence.

  • Past tense achievements and/or important facts to be added regarding this current position
  • Add more than one, just do not make them more than a sentence long each
  • And do not add more than 4 or 5….

The current position and past positions need to provide a brief description and important facts that make you stand out below in bullets.  If you didn’t have any, don’t make them up.  That is a waste of space.  Remember, you want to tell the potential employer within 6 seconds you are qualified!  Don’t use a 100 word description when you could have stated the same information using 20.

12.  MILITARY JARGON & ACRONYMS

Being in the military for any length of time will institutionalize you and have you speaking to everyone using words, phrases, and acronyms that the civilian world has no clue about.  When providing details on your resume, that is not the time to tell the potential employer you provided intel for the FBI while utilizing your TS/CSI. Spell words out, communicate them in terminology anyone can understand and make yourself relatable.  Potential employers often look for candidates who are like them or can fit in with the culture of their company. When they can relate to you, your chances of landing the interview and being hired are much greater.

* Transitioning veterans have grown in numbers tremendously since 9/11. My goal is to offer as much insight and help to veterans as they transition toward a new career path.

“Providing free resume writing services to all veterans and service members for life. It is my duty and honor to serve those who have served me.” – Jena Muller


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