Think your post-service resume is ready to kill? Slow your roll, high-speed.
Before you’re ready for prime time, you should run this quick, five-step self-test to make sure what you’re writing is what will connect with hiring managers:
1. Am I using the right key words in my resume?
Make sure that the language on your resume matches that of the job description. If a job is seeking people management experience, and you lead a team in the military, then note that you “managed a team of xx.” If the role requires extensive data work, make sure that “data” is a word on your resume multiple times. Eliminate some of the “bullet points” that have less to do with this job, so the person reviewing your resume will focus on the bullet points that matter for this role.
2. Are my years of experience clearly indicated?
Many roles will ask for a specific minimum number of years of experience; it can be important for a recruiter to see this on your resume. If you served for a number of years and also held a number of ranks, split these up and show the date range for each – this will show career progression, and the bullet points under each should reflect the specific experience that the recruiter is seeking.
3. Have I addressed all of the listed requirements?
Every role will list a number of requirements – make sure that any person who looks at your resume can see that you meet every one of these. Have a friend or mentor review your resume along with the job description and ask them if they see how you meet the qualifications from what you have in your resume. If there are any gaps, discuss your background with them. Discussing your experience with others can help you remember a time when you were involved in developing a training program or led a project; which can lead to additional resume material.
4. Have I addressed the preferred qualifications?
Sometimes a role will separate qualifications between “required” and “desired” or “preferred.” In these cases, while it’s critical to ensure you meet all the required qualifications, the “desired” is a chance to stand out from the crowd. These can often be more “soft” skills like “experience presenting to a large audience is preferred,” or “participation in a mentorship program desired.” Include as many of these on your resume as possible – in a competitive job market, employers will often look to these elements to differentiate candidates and select the very best to move forward.
5. Have I listed all of my certifications, licenses, registrations, degrees, software?
You’ve worked hard to obtain a degree, certifications, maybe even specific licenses – don’t cheat yourself by not including these on your resume. In some cases, a role will require these; in other cases, showing that you’ve invested in yourself in these ways will show a recruiter that you are serious about succeeding. Make sure to define these in civilian terms, and when possible, relate them to the role you’re seeking.
Chad Gutierrez is a Manager, Human Resources Business Partner at TIAA.