3 Misleading Resume Tips Consistently Presented at TAPS

Transition Assistance Programs Issues

As you wrap up your service obligation to the military, one of the many requirements you will face is the transition assistance program, commonly known as TAPS. Every branch of the military has its own program. But what every TAP has in common, according to many veterans and service members who completed the program, is its ineffectiveness.

TAP’s mission is to provide information and training to ensure every veteran is successful in life outside of the military. But time and time again, veterans come out of TAPS missing out on prominent career opportunities because of career misguidance, specifically when it comes to preparing resumes.

Every veteran who comes to Empire Resume in need of military-to-civilian resume writing services, has faced the same resume mishaps after TAPS. I spend a significant amount of time clarifying information and walking each new military client through proper resume techniques.

Today, I will discuss the top 3 misleading resume tips consistently presented at TAPS so you can avoid them as you enter the civilian workforce.

1. Keyword Stuffing

I always tell my military clients to beware of keyword stuffing. You should not try to trick or beat the applicant tracking systems (ATS) by stuffing your resume with every keyword possible.

Employers heavily frown upon keyword stuffing today, unless you can show that you have real experience with the listed job requirements and keywords from the description. Several job applicants make this mistake by speaking to the computer because of search engine optimization or SEO, with no regard for the human brain or eye.

Wondering what keyword stuffing looks like? Here’s some examples below.

Many people make the mistake of entering every technological tool they’ve used on their resume, instead of listing only the ones they are proficient in. Others list a large amount of text containing each piece of software and technology they’ve laid eyes on, in the hopes that a recruiter will notice the resume or the applicant tracking system will identify with the resume. This will automatically get a resume tossed into the trash.

Another common tactic is to include KSA’s from federal job descriptions in your resume. Unless you can demonstrate specific examples of how you utilized the KSA’s in your work history and achievements then avoid doing this altogether.

There are also online tools out there that have you compare your resume with the job description to create an ATS score based on how many keywords in the job description match your resume. This may seem legitimate at first but really offers no value to employers since anyone can simply stuff their resumes with keywords from the job description with the hopes to pull up. Employer applicant tracking systems are very sophisticated these days and assuming that you can “trick” the system to pull up on top of everyone else is inaccurate.

Always remember that your resume is a marketing document designed to get you an interview. It must clearly and concisely showcase the skills, qualifications, and value you bring to employers in the short amount of time they’ll spend reviewing it.

2. Tailor Your Resume to Each Role

Many clients come to Empire Resume wanting multiple versions and types of their resume tailored for each job. Despite what the TAP counselor tells you, one resume is all you need.

One of the primary reasons why you only need one resume is because hiring managers will search for you on LinkedIn. And as a user of the world’s largest professional networking platform, you can only have one LinkedIn profile. The End User Agreement of LinkedIn clearly states that a user cannot have multiple profiles in LinkedIn.

Bottom line is your LinkedIn profile work history and basic summary should match the resume the company decision maker receives. Imagine what could happen when your resume doesn’t add up to the information on your LinkedIn? This could raise some red flags and jeopardize your chances of moving forward in the hiring process.

As a certified professional resume writer (CPRW), I always say it’s best to have one resume with customized cover letters for each role. The resume will have the same job roles and descriptions regardless, but the cover letters should be custom-made for the job itself.

Additionally, when writing your cover letter, it’s helpful to identify the decision maker for each position using LinkedIn or Google. This way, you can not only tailor the cover letter to each role but identify the civilian hiring manager by name.

Personalizing your cover letter and addressing the hiring manager by name, instead of the generic salutation “To whom it may concern,” will separate you from the other candidates.

3. You Need Both a Federal Resume and Separate Civilian Resume

Years ago, federal job applicants would submit a 5+ page federal resume filled with lengthy job descriptions and every KSA possible to try and match every keyword in federal systems like USAJobs.

Unfortunately, this tactic did nothing to show or highlight the true value the candidate could bring to the federal government. Federal hiring authorities were overwhelmed with these lengthy “resumes.” As a result, hiring managers frown upon these lengthy documents.

Today, federal resumes, just like civilian resumes, are two-page documents that need to clearly showcase your skills, experience, and the value you bring. This is because hiring managers spend less than 10-seconds reviewing resumes and it is essential to be clear and concise.

The only details federal employers may ask for is your salary, hours worked, and supervisors’ name and contact information.  

For more details on landing a federal job, review our article on how to get a federal job for helpful tips.

Getting Your Resume Seen by Hiring Managers

Transition Assistance Programs Issues

Bottom line is that connecting with the right people who can offer you a job is the only way to get hired! Submit your resume through the required means such as the company website, job board, LinkedIn, or any other medium, and always follow-up with a hard copy of your resume and targeted cover letter via physical mail that concisely showcases why you are the best candidate.

No matter what you hear at the military transition assistance program, take Empire Resume’s advice. If you can remember to beware of keyword stuffing, one resume is all you need with a tailored cover letter, and to keep resumes under two-pages, you’ll be well on your way to getting the job you deserve.

I hope this information about the three misleading tips presented at TAPs is helpful. Go ahead and bookmark Empire Resume’s military-to-civilian blog for the latest military-to-civilian topics. We’re here to help with your career planning needs and deliver results, guaranteed!  

Empire Resume Will Help You Transition into the Civilian Workforce

Transition Assistance Programs Issues

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Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

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