As you may expect from the title of this article, I do not have a military experience. However, being a recruitment professional I have seen thousands of resumes of active or former military members. Very often I come across veterans whose post-military career does not reflect the experience and expertise they gained while on duty. Instead many of them have to settle with jobs they are clearly overqualified for. At the same time many employers in the United States are experiencing a shortage of qualified work force, and are striving to find competent employees.
One of the reasons why veterans or active military members cannot attract employers, is because their resumes are hard to understand for civilian recruitment professionals. While military resumes are usually written in clear and well-structured way, there are few wrinkles that can make a recruiter hesitant to contact a veteran or active duty soldier. For that reason I would like to share some tips about how to make a military resumes easier to find, and more appealing to the employers.
- Many job boards and employment websites help veterans and military members – use it for your advantage!
No matter if you are actively looking for a new job, or already have one, it is a good idea to post your resume on job boards such as Indeed, CareerBuilder or Monster. The chance is that you will be approached by recruiters looking for qualified candidates for the openings they try to fill. Most employment websites in the United States encourage recruiters to approach military candidates, by making it easier to find and contact former or active military members.
This is a huge advantage you have over civilian candidates. The best way to exploit it, is to upload your resume on multiple job boards. If you already posted your resume on one of those websites, make sure to keep it fresh and modify it every once in a while. Why is it important? Many companies want recruiters to look only at resumes that were posted recently. By refreshing your profile or resume every few weeks, you will keep it at the top of the search results. Another way to attract recruiter’s attention is to set up your professional profile on social media websites like LinkedIn, or adding you career history to your Facebook profile. Trust me, recruiters these days use as many ways to contact candidates as possible. The bottom line is: the easier for the employers to find you, the bigger chance you will find a job that you deserve.
- Make your resume a high quality one.
Whether you are posting your resume on the recruitment website, or sending it to the company you would like to work for, make it a compelling one. There are some great articles about resume writing that you may find on PeopleCorner, such as this one. Let me just stress two things:
First: make sure that language that you use to describe your experience is clear and easy to understand. This is important especially when describing your military duties. For recruiters with no military experience, it might be hard to understand a military lingo. Ask your civilian friends or family members to look at your resume and see if they can easily understand what your duties were. You may use your occupational code, or name the equipment you have worked on in the military (some more experienced recruiters will certainly know what you mean), but make sure that these are also described in civilian terms.
Second, whatever career path you want to pursue, describe your experience using terms and phrases that will catch recruiter’s eye. Why it is important? Most recruiters or employers who seek for candidates utilize keywords when using search engines, either on employment websites or in social media. Others, who look at the resumes send to them by applicants, are usually scanning them for familiar phrases or words, rather than reading the documents from beginning to end. Try to think what words you would use to find someone with your professional skills and experience. Never content yourself only with only listing job titles on your resume, as some candidates do. The more keywords are used in your resume, the more likely it will appear at the top of search results or that it would catch recruiter’s attention.
- If you are leaving military soon, make sure that recruiters know where and when will you relocate.
The problem of relocation after finishing active duty has been already covered on PeopleCorner here. One thing that you need to take into consideration is that recruiters might get confused if your address stated on the resume is different than the location you are currently serving in. Additionally some may be hesitant to contact you if they do not know when you are finishing your service in the military. One thing that can help, is to put a clarifying statement in your resume. For example you may write that you are “finishing active duty in December 2017, and will relocate back to my hometown of…” or “looking for work in … area, available for interviews starting December 2017”. Also, as I mentioned earlier, if you posted your resume on employment website, refresh it from time to time, especially I you did that some time before your ETS/EAOS.
Most veterans have skills and experience that turn out to be extremely valuable for civilian employees. The purpose of your resume is to make them realize that. Make sure that yours is compelling and easy to find, so that they won’t miss a chance to hire you!