How I Resuscitated My 10-Year-Old Resume
Job hunting for military spouses is difficult enough. Don’t make it any more difficult with an outdated resume. Make sure your resume is updated to reflect how awesome you are. Let know future employers know you have the skill for the job.
When we PCS’ed to Colorado Springs and I started my remote, work from home position, I knew I needed to branch out socially, so I wouldn’t go stir crazy sitting in my house all day long, all by myself. I was lucky enough to stumble upon my local chapter of In Gear Career on Facebook. In Gear Career is a program of Hiring Our Heroes and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and it’s basically a professional networking group for career-minded military spouses.
In Gear Career was just what I needed. Now I have new friends, attend Lunch & Learns, and Happy Hours to go – perfect. The last meet-up I went to was all about Resume and Cover Letter Readiness and I almost didn’t go. I thought, I already have a job, I’m not looking for a job, and my resume is already awesome. Well, the lure of happy hour specials pulled me in. I went ahead and printed off my awesome resume and made the drive downtown.
When I sat down with my In-Gear group and we started to pass around our resumes, I suddenly realized that my resume was not awesome; it was in fact, awful.
I slowly tried to shuffle my resume to the back of the pile. I had updated my positions, education, hell, even my last name, but the format, font, style and content, were straight outta 2006. For ten years, I had been tweaking the same document over and over and over. My resume was still in the same format it had been since I got my first job out of college.
I’ve sat on hiring panels and looked at hundreds of other people’s resume. I knew what a blatantly bad resume looked like. However, I was blissfully unaware that my own resume was so DOA, I needed to breathe some new life into it – and STAT! Now thankfully, I wasn’t guilty of breaking all of these ten rules below, but I can’t claim 100% innocence either.
HER MONEY MOVES TOP TEN RESUME COMMANDMENTS
1. Cut it down to 1 page
My resume used to be three pages long, no joke. What was I thinking? I had taken my lengthy and wordy Government Service (GS) resume and tried to make it work as a civilian resume and it was just not working. Treat your resume like it’s prime real estate in Manhattan and only give space to the content that really matters, you can get it down to 1 page.
2. Font – Times New Roman is soooo 2006
Ten years ago, Times New Roman was the cool kid, now there are so many sleeker and more modern options. This time around, I chose to go with Calibri. Check out this article on the best and worst fonts to use on your resume. Mostly likely, a potential employer isn’t going to pass you up because you used Times New Roman, but it can give your overall resume a facelift and bring it back to 2017. Last point, all black font…no need for “accent colors”.
3. Header Format
Remember, #1? Your one page resume is prime real estate, so don’t use it all up by putting your name in size 50 font. It makes you look like you don’t have good experiences to list because you chose to fill up your page with your name instead. In addition, coming from the government world, I was used to listing my current address. Totally not needed for several reasons such as safety, it’s nunyabusiness, and it might hurt your potential if you are job searching in preparation for a PCS to a duty station and not currently located where the job you want is located…story of a MilSpo’s life, right?
Otherwise, just your name, cell-phone number and professional sounding PERSONAL e-mail address will do. If you are still using that AOL or Hotmail account, maybe its time you make the switch to something a little more current, like Gmail. Although a good manager wouldn’t throw out your resume due to an email domain, it might peg you as old-fashioned or less tech savvy. More importantly, make sure your e-mail address sounds professional and it should probably be some variation of your name. No joke, I have seen field grade officers apply to positions with words like sexy, flyboy, and 6969 in their e-mail address. Scout’s Honor.
If your LinkedIn profile is up to date and professional looking, AND agrees with the information found in your resume, go ahead and list your LinkedIn URL as well. Your LinkedIn account is where you can expand on your experiences and skills. Make sure you go to LinkedIn and customize your personal URL with your name instead of having a random URL assigned to you.
4. Professional Summary – BLUF: Tell people about your awesomeness
Employers already know you want a job in xyz, so there is no need to tell them (and waste space) on your resume that “I am seeking a new position in xyz. Instead, give them a brief professional summary of your experience, skills, and knowledge. Make them want to read more about you.
5. Content: Make it count
Actionable Bullet Points (the so-what affect)
Instead of just listing your duties, tell your interviewer what you did and the results you achieved. I was taught that this is called the “so-what affect”. If you can read your bullet point and say “so what?” after it, you’re not doing it right.
“Identified contracts with unliquidated obligations”….SO WHAT? Let’s try that again.
“Researched funding issues to identify contracts with unliquidated obligations to avoid wasted funds”
Get rid of those acronyms
If its not 100% obvious to the people who will be reading your resume, then ditch the jargon and acronyms and spell out the word. There will be a unique set of acronyms at everyplace you’ll ever work. Your new employer will most likely will not care about the personalized name of your former employer’s enterprise business intelligence system (GFEBS I’m looking at you), instead use a general term to describe proprietary systems.
Quantifiable data on how you helped your employer
If your accomplishment can be described with a number, quantify it. For example, I changed “negotiated contracts” to “surpassed overall profit goals by 24% on all negotiated contracts”…sounds pretty sharp, huh?
Current Position = Present Tense, Past positions = Past Tense
In your current positon you manage, develop, and forecast, in your former positions you managed, developed and forecasted.
6. Leave out the Gaps
Most employers don’t need to know the exact day and month you started and ended a position, for 95% of the working world, just using the year is fine. I updated my resume to reflect just the years that I was with a company instead of exact dates. As a military spouse, it helps to leave out the months I was unemployed due to job searching after a PCS and just list the years I was employed.
I also left out the one year gap I took when I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy (and PCS’ed) and then stayed home with my son for the first year (and PCS’ed again). I probably interviewed with eight companies with this gap on my resume, after I had my son, and only one person noticed and asked me about the one-year gap. Although my resume hides my gaps in unemployment well, I would always be forthcoming if an employer had questions.
7. PDF and save your resume with a professional file name
PDF your resume, it makes it look clean, polished and prevents anyone from making a change by accident. Next, give your resume a professional sounding file name such as YourName_resume.pdf. I’m not lying when I tell you I have seen resume files saved as dskfdsofdsf.doc or where the applicant has misspelled their own name.
8. Leave off references, hobbies, interests, etc.
It’s always nice to give your references a head’s up that you are job hunting. Let them know that employers might be calling them. That way you can make sure their contact information is still current and that they won’t be out of the country or screening unknown calls, when your future employer calls them. Since references often include personal contact info like cell phones and e-mails, it’s nice to not pass them out like candy, especially if you are posting your resume on a public site. Wait for your interviewer to request your references before you pass them out.
Back to #1 again…prime real estate. Save all your personal stuff for later or work it into the interview when the interviewer asks you to “tell me a little bit more about yourself”. After you spout off all your educational and professional achievements, you can slip in that you were on your last employer’s championship winning softball team.
9. Read your final draft and have peers & mentors proof it too
The most annoying thing after you finished writing your resume is to proofread it yourself. You’re tired and so over this document, but its soooo important to proof it. Give yourself a break of a few hours or even a day, then go back, and proof it. Read every section carefully and then read it aloud, and then do it again. Next, pass your resume to peers, mentors both in and out of your field. Tell them to pain the town red.
10. Have a “go-to” resume, but tailor each resume to specific jobs
When interviewing candidates, there’s nothing more annoying than reading (and wasting my time with) resumes that are not suited to the position being interviewed. When I used to be in Contracts and wanted to break into Program Management, I had to tailor my resume to reflect that. Trying to get away with one generic resume will not get you the job you want. Tweaking resumes to be customized to a specific job takes some extra time, but it will be worth it in the end.
If you are job searching, update your resume and make sure it reflects the current year we’re living in with the above tips. If you’re not job searching, update it anyways. In my experience, it’s always beneficial to have a ready to go resume on hand. You never know when a scholarship, networking opportunity, public speaking gig or job of a lifetime will pop up. Being prepared is key to getting what you want.