As I reviewed a military friend’s resume, preparing to take the red pen in hand at her request, the first thing I noted was length: 10 pages. Need to get that down to two or it will never be read by a civilian recruiter. The most effective first step toward that goal is to strip out all of the information related to ancient roles and ranks. This person is a senior officer; the fact that she was once a platoon leader sheds no light on her skill set. So, all jobs and titles older than 10 years, all schools attended and honors received get cut/pasted into a separate document which I name, “military resume.”
Returning to the original working document, now called, “civilian resume,” I see that it is still eight pages long. Reading through recent roles and responsibilities, I see at least 15 dot- points under each one. That is too many. Further, several were redundant. So, successes tip #1is that quality absolutely trumps quantity.
The next thing that jumps out at me is the fluffy nature of the information provided. “Fluffy” is a funny word to use in a military context, but be that as it may. What does fluffy mean? It means listing activities and personal qualities. So, for example, a fluffy dot-point might be something like, “Held more than 100 meetings to promote HR policy compliance.” So what? 100+ meetings is a whole heck of a lot of activity, but to what end? What was actually accomplished? This is what civilian recruiters and hiring managers want to know. I might re-write that dot-point to sound more like, “Conceived and led a large scale change management initiative designed to institutionalize a culture of compliance.” My wording did not change meaning, but clarified it. Now I ask you: which has more muscle? Tip #2: describe impact (results achieved) rather than listing activities.
As I proceeded to recast my friend’s professional experience into something more becoming an officer, I became confused. The main function of the role being described was buried down towards the bottom of the listed dot-points. Circling back, it seemed that everything else was actually a sub-function of that primary responsibility. So I restructure the list to start with the high-level role definition/objective, followed by only those dot-points describing impact, which leads me to success tip #3: pay attention to sequence and don’t let the most impressive information get lost in the mix.
Hope this is helpful!