Today’s post marks our second and final post on how to write a winning résumé with guest author Tom Wolfe. For those of you that missed our first post with questions 1-5, Tom was a founding partner of Career Development Corporation, one of the first and most highly respected firms in the military-to-civilian career transition industry. He has vast experience with transitioning veterans and published the second edition of his book Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition in 2018. We’ll take a look at questions 6 through 10 that you should be asking yourself about your résumé below:
6. Will it also succeed as a writing sample? Most jobs require the ability to compose and present information in written format. Many companies will ask for a writing sample as part of the evaluation process. Whether you are faced with that requirement or not, you will automatically be providing every interviewer with a writing sample—your résumé! That document is a direct reflection of not only your writing skills but also your preparation, thoroughness, attention to detail, and accuracy. It must be letter perfect. No misspelled or misused words. No typos. No grammatical or syntax errors. Take the time to proof read it several times, frontwards and backwards, and ask others to do the same.
7. Have you employed keywords? Many companies use key word scanning software to select résumés. If you have a specific job in mind, make sure your résumé contains position- and industry-specific terms. Take them directly from the job description. If your target is a company rather than a specific job, then visit the company’s web site and look for key words in the mission statement or core values. If you have no particular company or job in mind, then choose key words that best reflect what makes you tick and what matters to you in your job. Once you have selected your key words, position them prominently and repeat each one if possible.
8. Should it include personal information? Your name and contact information must be on the résumé, but how about additional personal information? You should not include vital statistics, health, religious, or political information. Any reference to marital status and children on a résumé is tricky. Although they will not admit it, some companies prefer to hire married people. Some jobs put a severe strain on families. If you are unsure, omit it. Including things like community service, volunteerism, second language fluency, travel, hobbies, and interests can pay dividends because they add a human element to an inanimate document. They also give the interviewer icebreaker material and conversation generators.
9. Have you incorporated social media? Given the importance of social media in the modern job search it is likely that your résumés will include one or more hyperlinks: your LinkedIn profile, personal website, YouTube video, articles you have written. Caution: professionalism and consistency across all platforms is critical; as is accuracy, appropriateness, and decorum. (Here’s a test: is there anything on your résumé or in your social media presence that you would not want to share with your parents or children?) In digital versions, these links will be hot. In printed versions you will need to spell out the complete URL.
10. Did you make any of these mistakes?
- The words References Available upon Request area is a waste of space.
- Including your work telephone number on your resume gives the reader permission to use it—is that okay?
- Do not include a list of references; that is a separate document.
- Listing date of availability for employment is a bad idea unless it is immediate. Expressing a willingness to travel and/or relocateis fine, as long as it also happens to be completely true.
- Do not include your military rank or rating with your name on the résumé. If relevant to the opportunity, you can mention it in the experience section.
Your résumé is an important tool in your career transition toolbox. Physically, it is one or two sheets of paper with 400 to 1000 words. Digitally, it allows access to so much more. Figuratively, it is the bridge that connects your past to your future. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to résumés. I have written, reviewed, edited, or tweaked over 5,000 résumés during my career and have experienced first-hand what works and what does not. Seek the assistance of ten résumé experts and you will end up with ten different résumés, eleven if you include my guidance above.
Thanks for your service and good hunting!$
© 2020; Tom Wolfe, author; all rights reserved; used with the permission of the author. For questions and to contact the author use Tom@tomwolfe-careercoach.com. For more on this subject, see www.out-of-uniform.com
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