– PREPARING A MILITARY-TRANSITION RESUME –
Since under-marketing yourself could cost you many tens-of-thousands of dollars over the span of your civilian career, no other document is more vital to your future livelihood than the military-transition resume you are about to write. To successfully achieve your career and financial goals, there are several critical principles that you need to understand when crafting your credentials.
Focus on your job objective
The successful military-transition resume is about the future and the new career path that you wish to pursue. This means it should support “who you want to be” as opposed to “who you have been.” In addition, a truly effective military-transition resume must present your skills, qualifications and career achievements in such a way that it clearly differentiates you from the crowd of other highly qualified military and civilian candidates seeking the same type of positions as you are pursuing.
Avoid using military terminology
Since the people reading your military-transition resume will be civilians with little or no understanding of your world, the use of military acronyms and buzzwords is a mistake that could cost you a number of opportunities. Your credentials must be written in easily identifiable and appropriate job-related terminology, so that any hiring executive who reads your resume will understand exactly how your skills and qualifications relate to the position for which you are applying (called “transferability of skills”). Every time you use military jargon in your military-transition resume, you’ve given potential employers a reason to exclude you from consideration.
(NOTE: If you are applying to a company or government agency that works directly with the military, disregard this rule. In other words, always identify the specific needs of your targeted employers and then target your resume accordingly.)
Create an achievement-oriented resume
Approximately 95% of all military and civilian resumes currently in circulation describe past experiences, rather than selling the successes that have defined the users’ careers. While having the right type of experience is an obvious plus, resumes that focus on experience rarely do well because they do not differentiate the users from all of the other ordinary job seekers. To accelerate your job search and find the most lucrative positions, do not simply tell hiring executives what you have done. Rather, sell them on how well you did it.
Your military-transition resume is a pure sales document. If it is written as an expression of what you are capable of doing and clearly communicates your potential value to an organization, you will not only create interest on the part of employers to see you, but you will gain a tremendous competitive advantage over your competition throughout your entire interview and salary negotiation process. If your resume fails to sell your true value to prospective employers, you are likely to be in the job market for quite some time.
Sell your decision-making skills
Sun Tzu, in his Art of War, written more than 2500 years ago, understood an absolute fundamental that would become the cornerstone of modern management. That is, any action of consequence should be preceded by a process of decision making involving careful thinking, calculation and evaluation of available options before acting on any of them.
Needless to say, corporate leaders are not oblivious to the importance of hiring top-notch decision makers, so the higher the position you are seeking in the organizational hierarchy, the more time and emphasis will be placed on looking for this essential skill. Whether you have commanded a staff group such as finance or human resources, or led a line unit in combat, you have made a barrage of decisions, many of which undoubtedly led to significant consequences. As such, do not miss the opportunity to convince hiring executives of your innate ability to make key decisions that have helped define your success.
It takes more than a powerful resume to succeed
While a high-impact, achievement-oriented, military-transition resume is an essential marketing tool, the mere possession of outstanding written materials is no guarantee of success. In order to make your military-transition resume produce, you must use it in a very skillful way.
Because timing is so critical, and the competition is so fierce, luck will play a significant role in your transition activities. Your chance of reaching a company at the exact moment they have an opening for your specific background is slim. None of this, however, means you can’t be much more successful than the legion of other retiring officers and executives seeking the same positions. Just remember, most jobs are won by candidates who appear to be the best qualified, rather than those who are, in fact, best qualified.