Your resume is a marketing tool for showcasing your personal brand to potential employers. It is your advertising method, and as such, it needs to reflect what you offer concisely and impactfully. Nowadays, few recruiters comb through resumes themselves. Rather, much of the work is done by computers that scan for specific key phrases, so resume optimization is vital to ensure your application doesn’t lose out. Regardless of the format you choose, every resume needs to follow these basic conventions to be effective.
The first step in getting your resume past the automated process of applying to jobs for veterans is to ensure that it contains the key terms listed in the job vacancy. These are usually industry- and skills-related, so scan the job specification to see what the key requirements are for the job. For example, this job ad for a Route Sales and Service Manager contains the following keywords: route sales and service manager, safety-conscious team, fast-paced environment, customer service, staff training, DOT, EPA, Class B commercial driver, Hazmat.
“Company X is looking for a Route Sales and Service Manager to join their safety-conscious team! Our most successful Route Service Managers have experience working in a fast-paced environment to bring a high quality of service to customers. Ideal candidates have experience in staff training, development, goal-setting, and strong operational adherence to DOT, EPA, State, and Local Regulations and company policies and procedures. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, as well as a Class B commercial driver’s license, Hazmat endorsements, and leadership experience.“
By including the keywords in your resume and cover letter, you’ll ensure your application is one of those selected for review by a human charged with hiring veterans.
Once you get to the stage of having a real person read your application, it’s vital to make it count! The top section of your resume is the most valuable real estate, and if you don’t capture the reader’s attention right away, they might not review the entire document. Create a short, memorable executive summary that encourages the reader to move on, followed by 3 to 4 bullet points focused on the main contribution you bring to the job.
Few veterans feel comfortable highlighting their strengths and achievements, but that’s exactly what you would do if you were marketing a business. Consider yourself a business of one, and take an objective approach to pinpoint and list your best characteristics and abilities. Remember, potential employers are looking for more than a set of skills, they also want candidates who fit their culture. Mention your unique passions, attributes, personality, leadership skills, and how these make you good at your job.
A common resume mistake is to list your former job or service responsibilities, but future employers don’t want to know what you were supposed to do. They want to see what you achieved and how it impacted the company. Instead of stating that your job was to manage all inventory, rather state the size of the inventory you did manage, the methods you used, and any notable achievements. Try to provide specifics of your accomplishments, such as the monetary value of your loss control measures or the additional revenue generated by eliminating waste. Make sure your references have the same information so they can verify your statements if they are contacted.
Refine the contents of your resume to focus on what’s relevant to the role and avoid sharing every last detail you can think of about your previous jobs. After all, you’ll need to have something to talk about during an interview, so play your cards close to your chest and keep some details to yourself. Share only the details that matter most to avoid having a generic resume that falls flat. Position yourself as the perfect fit for the role, focus on specifics, highlight industry examples of success, and keep it all relevant and concise.
If all this sounds like a tall order, don’t worry. Get help to prepare a resume that will get you the job you want. For more information about jobs for veterans or hiring veterans, please click here.
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