Make Your Resume Rock
Best practices for building your post-military resume
The most important thing to know about resumes is that 95% of what people worry about doesn’t matter - fonts, paper stock, etc. That’s because a resume is usually only consumed by two entities:
- An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that applies an algorithm to grade your words: Do you have the right keywords that line up with the job? That's the key.
- A recruiter who spends, on average, seven seconds reading each resume. So they don't have time to grade you on aesthetics, they just need to know whether you fit their mental model for the job.
So to make sure you focus on what actually matters, grab the Shift template and then focus on these two points:
1) Resumes Need Keywords
As described in the last section, the recruiter doesn’t have time to figure out what you did in the military (and the ATS doesn’t have the ability!). So it’s up to you to feed them the exact words they're looking for. The best place to look for these are written in the job description itself! Use the organizations language to align your experiences.
- Job Title - Because recruiting and finding the right fit for a role is so important, it’s vital that you show you’ve done similar work before. For example, even if your military title wasn’t “Operations Manager,” you should make sure to mention examples of operations management in both your Summary and Experience sections.
- Skills - Every job description includes a lot of skills, usually spelled out in a Qualifications section at the bottom. For each of the skills you possess (e.g., supply chain management, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing), include those in your Skills section, as well as your Summary and Experience, where appropriate.
2) Resumes Need Results
The other cardinal resume sin is to omit the actual results of your work. Don't just list what you did (e.g., “Oversaw project timeline and delegated tasks to teammates”) and gloss over what you actually achieved (e.g., “Oversaw $55 million project with 125 stakeholders, delivering the new equipment 15% under budget and a month ahead of schedule”).
So make sure that every single bullet focuses on what made you special since that’s what will catch the recruiter’s eye in their seven-second scan. Here are three of the most powerful ways to do so:
Quantify - Be sure to include a quantification of your achievements whenever possible! Asking yourself the questions "how much?", "how many?", and "how often", will help you brainstorm areas to add quantification to your results.
Qualify - Some accomplishments don’t lend themselves to numerical categorization. In those cases, find another standard by which you were judged. Did you win an award, get the approval of a high-ranking officer, or earn a promotion earlier than expected? Do any of these signify to a recruiter that you didn’t just show up - you went well above and beyond the job description.
- Set the Stage - And finally, there will be some accomplishments where the quantities will be underwhelming and the work unheralded, but that really were some of the best work you did in the military. In those cases, it’s up to you to paint a picture for the recruiter. For example, instead of saying, “Increased the number of recruits by 10%,” give the full context: “Increased the number of recruits by 10% in just one month, even with a declining recruitment budget.”
You can get Shift’s complete guide to resumes here. Just note, that because each role you apply for will be looking for different skills and experiences, it is important that you tailor your resume for each individual application. You may be qualified for both a Project Management role as well as an Operations role, so your resumes for those should be varied to suit the job description.