As you transition from your civilian job to active duty and back again throughout your Guard or Reserve service, you may find yourself seeking to apply your acquired skills to a new career. Bullet Proofing your resume and having it stand out among hundreds of candidates is often a challenge. You obviously want your resume to be noteworthy, but you do not want to look arrogant or inexperienced. You must be understood by hiring managers, which can be a difficult task for anyone in applying military experience to a resume. You are probably aware of the rookie resume mistakes like using military jargon, too many pages, no direction, and not showing value. But…..

If you want to Bullet Proof your resume, read on!

Your resume must tell your personal story in a compelling way that is compatible with your chosen occupation or vocation. It must be different enough from your competitor’s submission to make a staffing or human resource recruiter take notice. This is a difficult task, but it is doable. Here are a few ways to tell your story and ensure your resume gets pushed from the recruiter to the hiring manager:

Customize Your Resume for the Intended Audience – As you seek a new career, you must be flexible and versatile. Make sure your resume is appropriate, as every company and position is different. Therefore, you may need several different versions of your resume; each emphasizing different facets of your career objectives and achievements. Be consistent and do not contradict yourself.

Get to the Point, Quickly – Consider integrating the specific job posting title into your objective statement. Don’t present a high-level, generalized, and vague comment about how you are looking for a challenging position with a dynamic company as an accomplished professional. Describe your pertinent experiences and qualifications in quick and energetic terms.

Don’t Over Embellish, but Tell a Great Story – Recruiters expect a resume to reflect an element of spin, but over exaggeration will get you in trouble every time. Place the most favorable light on yourself and your achievements. However, excessive embellishments may keep you from getting hired and nothing is more miserable than being placed in a position where you are under-qualified and cannot perform well.

Make Sure to Integrate Keywords from the Job Posting – Today, keyword search is a screening criterion. Don’t overdo it, but ensure keywords are present in your resume. This is critical for all online applications and resumes, as most are screened by computer searches. Further, you will receive subsequent contact for positions that you have not applied for. Do you satisfy the criteria on the job posting? If so, do you reflect that on your resume? Get the keywords on your resume.

Avoid “en vogue” terms and words – Your resume should not read as if has been pulled from the latest business magazine or thesaurus. Forget over-used words and phrases; try to be original. However, don’t overuse big words when simplistic language will do.

Use a Comfortable and Subtle Resume Template – Make sure your resume is visually appealing and distinguishing but not distracting. Stick with a couple of common fonts and sizes and stay away elaborate detailing or colors.

Proofread … and then Proofread Again – You cannot have mistakes on your resume. Your resume will go in the garbage. You must pursue perfection on every submitted job search artifact.

Best Bullet Proof Secret of All – Remember, there is no “Jedi Mind Trick” to influence your selection by a human resources recruiter. Sending out resumes is a matter of trial and error. You will have to keep submitting and experimenting with different formats and approaches until something works for you. With ingenuity and realistic expectations, you will create a bullet proof resume that represents well and lands you a great job.

Wishing you a lucrative transition!


JJayHicksay Hicks, LTC (Ret), is an author, instructor and consultant with over 30 years of business and government planning and leadership. He advises commercial and federal organizations on the planning, development, and leadership of Project Management Organizations, delivering viability and value. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transtions4U.com and co-author of “The Transitioning Military Series”.