The Do's and Don'ts of Resume Writing

Words, especially when printed on paper, can be like bullets fired from a gun. Once they’re fired, or in this analogy printed, you can’t haul them back in. They’re out there and they’ll either strike the target you intended, miss it completely or simply react to gravity and fall to the ground.

The same can be said of resumes. Once you fire a resume off to a potential employer, you must be absolutely sure your words will have a positive impact on the job you’ve targeted. Otherwise, just like a stray round, you could miss the mark completely and someone else may land the job you wanted.

To help give you a better chance at hitting the mark, here are a few tips on crafting an effective resume.

First, you must drop the “military-ese” from your resume. A potential employer may not know what an NCOIC is or what service specific terms like “PS-6” (Personnel Specialist, 1st Class) mean. Learn to replace these terms with their civilian equivalent, such as “manager,” or “supervisor” as appropriate, and spell out where your specific experience and expertise lay rather using military jargon.

A good resume also adds the “why.” It indicates what you have accomplished in past professional roles and demonstrates your potential to learn and grow. It should show what leadership experiences you have and what you’re passionate about. These, of course, should be specifically targeted to the job you’re after.

Some transitioning veterans may use professional resume writers. Resume expert and Wall Street Warfighters Foundation’s Lida Citroen cautions this, as she states some resume writers will “demilitarize” a service member’s resume so much that the transitioning member can’t speak to the things listed. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you can personally attest to every experience and professional role on your resume so a recruiter or a person seeking to fill a job position can instantly connect the resume to the candidate they interview.

Good resumes will leave off personal information such as marital status, birthday and disabilities. These are irrelevant and this space could be devoted to an “off-duty” interest’s page that could include hobbies and community-based work that is relevant to the job you’re seeking. For example, a person seeking a job in an information technology field might add to their resume that in their spare time they enjoy fixing old computers and donating them to schools that have trouble funding these items for their classrooms.

A good resume will often only land you the interview. From there, it’s up to you to research the job you’re looking for and convince the interviewer you are the best person to fill the position.