Are Military Resumes Different?
Military (federal) resumes have undergone major changes over the last decade. Applying for federal jobs before the millennium would entail a five or more page resume filled with lengthy job descriptions to try and account for everything. Today, military resumes are expected to be no more than two-pages while still incorporating the relevant key words (KSA’s) and showcasing the value a candidate can bring.
Why Not Include Everything?
Simply including a laundry list of detailed job descriptions, training, medals, ribbons, awards, and everything else you’ve done will certainly pull up in the applicant tracking systems; however, once a recruiter sees this they will move onto a more readable and user-friendly resume. Although it’s stated on our resume writing services page that “It has been validated by numerous studies that hiring managers spend no more than 10-seconds at most reviewing your resume,” the reality is actually much grimmer. TheLadders (2017) conducted a study and showed that the average recruiter spends 6-seconds reviewing a resume. This means that simply having a keyword-rich resume pull up in the database is not enough. The resume should be a maximum of two-pages, reflect the necessary skills/competencies required for the job, and clearly showcase the value a candidate could bring beyond the generic job description.
The challenge is to be able to create a compelling two-page document that encompasses the value that you bring above and beyond a job description. Anyone can search the internet or call a military base to find out the duties of a Security Forces Captain or an Aircraft Maintenance Superintendent, but what is it that separates you from the pack? Strong examples of value-added achievements may include “Received SNCO of the Year” or “Spearheaded a new initiative that saved $25,000 monthly” or “Established a new personnel training program that increased pass rates by 64%.” These are clearly unique accomplishments that would make you far more marketable than a person who simply regurgitates job descriptions.
The Best Strategy
If you’ve served in the military for 20+ years, you will have accumulated more than 20+ evaluations (OPRs/EPRs) that comprise innumerable pages of information. The best strategy is threefold. First, remember that a resume is simply a marketing document designed to get you an interview. Second, resumes should not go back more than 10-15 years max since it opens you up to age discrimination and hiring managers are concerned with what you’ve done lately. Third, highlight the value-added accomplishments you’ve achieved that clearly makes you marketable to employers.
When you submit your resume through a job board or LinkedIn, think about who will most likely be the first person to see your resume. Unless you personally know someone, it will probably be an HR clerk who may not have any military background whatsoever. You can bet that these HR clerks sift through hundreds of resumes each day to try and find the best candidate. What would compel them to forward your resume up the chain for further consideration? Do you think a resume that simply regurgitates all of the job descriptions is of any real value to them besides that it will pull up in their applicant tracking systems? Always remember that your resume is your ambassador and should “sell” you immediately to anyone needing to fill a position.
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