Finding a job in this economy can be a challenge for just about anyone. But it can sometimes prove especially difficult for veterans and returning service members. The veteran unemployment rate is twice the general unemployment rate. Transitioning back into civilian life can present a number of hurdles for veterans, chief among them finding a job once military service comes to an end.
One of the most important initial steps is to ensure you have a strong résumé. Here are a half-dozen tips to help ensure yours isn’t lost in a pile or designated for the trash pile.
Questions about length are common. Too long and you might bore the reader; too short and they might not get a sense of who you are. Although most people say you should have around a page of résumé for every 10 years of experience, remember that your résumé won’t be the only one in the stack.
Employers are receiving dozens if not hundreds of applications and no one will spend 30 minutes reading over your life story. The best plan of action is to not worry about specific length and make sure that all of the important information in covered in a concise manner.
Many service members and veterans struggle with translating their military experience into something a civilian can understand. Although military terms make sense to you, most employers have little to no experience with the Armed Forces and will have no clue what you’re talking about. Asking a friend who is unfamiliar with military jargon to read over your résumé can really help with accessibility.
Although you don’t want to be too informal, adding personality when you can is an excellent way to grab attention and get an interview. Adding a personal blurb outlining why you’re applying for the job is a great way to add personality to a résumé without detracting from the formality.
Details, Details, Details
Although things like inconsistent abbreviations and grammatical tense might seem minor, they can set off red flags for employers. Make sure your résumé is consistent and error free. Believe it or not, a spelling mistake can cost you an interview.
Make sure that you choose a format that is professional but also fits the style of your job. Creative positions may call for more creative résumés and you should always check to see that a printed copy appears professional and polished before sending it off. No one will want to read something that looks bad from the start.
This is the information age and a lot of companies are switching to online applications to save both time and paper. Unfortunately, this results in even less time to impress an employer. People will quickly scan on a screen even more than they do with a printed copy.
Make sure you include things like attractive formatting, attention-grabbing introductions and concise information to get the most across in the least amount of time.
Also consider the “Eight-Second Test,” which basically says you have eight seconds to grab your reader’s attention. Beyond that window, your chances of getting an interview are supposed to plummet.
Building a strong résumé with these tips will really increase the chances that you will catch someone’s eye and get called in for an interview.
Photo thanks to wwworks via Flickr Creative Commons