5 Resume Writing Tips to Help Veterans Land Civilian Jobs

Image courtesy of  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While many civilian employers claim a commitment to hiring veterans, knowledge gaps and unfair assumptions can cause civilians to overlook qualified vets. For example, 61 percent of civilian employers say they do not understand how military skills qualify ex-service members for jobs.

Also, according to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), many employers hesitate to hire reservists or National Guard members because they fear these military members will start the job only to be redeployed.

Currently, service members with college degrees earn $10,000 dollars less each year than their civilian peers. Vietnam veterans saw a similar pattern — they earned less than their civilian peers until they reached their fifties. While a vet can earn a military scholarship to return to school and update his or her skills, many still need to obtain employment while they attend college.

While a good resume won’t guarantee a job interview, a well-written and properly targeted resume will increase your chances of getting to the next stage. When you’re writing a resume to look for a civilian job, follow these five resume writing tips to give yourself an edge.

Tip #1: Know What You’re Worth

As a U.S. Armed Forces veteran, you have earned a set of valuable skills. Make sure to spell out these skills to potential employers when you are applying for work.

  • Quick learner. As a member of the military, you underwent rigorous training to learn completely new skills in a short period of time. Combat conditions also helped you to learn on the fly.
  • Team player. Being part of a military unit requires a strong commitment to teamwork.
  • Leader. In the military, you not only gave orders; you also led by example.
    Respectful of authority. You know that everyone has to play the proper role to keep an organization functioning without glitches.
  • Appreciative of diversity. Your fellow service members came from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, and you learned to serve together and to respect each other.
  • Performer under pressure. Combat conditions can bring you to the edge of life and death. You made difficult decisions and kept your cool when it mattered most.

Tip #2: No Resume is One-Size-Fits-All

In the civilian world, it is important to tailor your resume to each individual employer. You can develop a basic template, but you should then customize your resume for each individual job application. It takes more time to do this, but your effort shows the employer that you care about the position for which you are applying and your resume will be far more effective.

Start by looking at the important words in the job description. If you’re looking for federal employment, look at OPM Grade and Series information. Utilize those key words as you rewrite your objective, your skills and your job history.

A resume that is too generic will not grab an employer’s attention.

Tip #3: Accomplishments, Not Duties

When you describe your military experience, you may be tempted to write down the duties you were expected to perform. Instead of writing down your duties, list your accomplishments.

Notice the difference between these two statements from a former Army IT worker.

• Duty: Performed IT functions including network monitoring and troubleshooting.
• Accomplishment: Increased network uptime by 54 percent and implemented solutions that reduced e-mail malware by 17 percent.

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