header
THE LEADING JOB & RESUME SITE FOR VETERANS!
red dot LOGGED OUT x box LOG IN NEW TO MILITARYHIRE? question mark HELP

How To Create A Persuasive Resume

March 2005

by

Randall Scasny

Most military retirees who contact me for resume assistance do so because they have not received any employer interest after applying for many jobs. They feel there is something wrong with their resume but seem unable to pinpoint what it is.

In almost every case, their resumes are a complete and accurate statement of their military experience and career accomplishments. And this is the source of their problem: it is so detailed that the resume reader feels overwhelmed by the facts. In essence, their resumes are not a meaningful experience for the reader. Without meaning, there is no persuasion. If your resume is not persuasive, employers will not be interested enough to call you for an interview.

However, rather than confront the lack of meaning and persuasion problem, most resume authors diagnose their problem as "my resume is too long." Thus, they miss the cause of why their resume is long.

Only when I write to them and give them the play- by-play "experience" of how I read their resume do they begin seeing that the length-problem is really a problem of a lack of persuasion.

I had an Air Force Retiree contact me last year about his resume. He was unaware of any problems until a family relative, who was a college professor, told him that he did not understand the veteran's resume.

When I reviewed the resume, here is how he described his last position:

Avionics Craftsman/Maintenance Supervisor
Directly supervised 36 Maintenance Technicians from three different career fields
--Directed maintenance on 21 F-16C/D aircraft Valued at over $320 million
--Lead Avionics Technician for all Flight Control impounds
--Volunteered to be cross-utilization trained into the Electro/Environmental career field due to manning shortages
--Trained in the use of test equipment and safety procedures for Hydrazine System checks
--Information Security Manger on classified computer network--downloaded classified software to upgrade aircraft systems and disseminated classified messages to proper agencies
--Squadron Safety Program Manager-enforced Air Force and OSHA standards

Having been both in the military and the electronics field, I did not find this job description terribly hard to understand. But I have had years of experience to gain that insight. Most HR managers do not.

Yet, rather than giving the veteran absolute rules about proper resume writing, I made the veteran think about why his job descriptions were difficult to understand.

The words "supervision" and "maintenance" were drowned out by many subject-matter expert terms. These terms have no meaning unless they are placed in a context where they do have meaning. Without meaning, it reads like a technical manual, which few people enjoy reading.

We re-wrote his job description in this manner:

--Supervise 27 technicians from the Propulsion Branch, Electro- and Environmental-Shop and Avionics Section.
--Coordinate maintenance for 29 F-117 Aircraft totaling $1.6 billion.
--Ensure proper documentation of historical aircraft data.
--Prepare written evaluations of individual work performance.
--Implement changes to technical orders and procedures.
--Assist engineers in improving aircraft operating systems as a participant in Avionics/Electronic Working Groups.
--Collect aircraft trend data to design preventative maintenance procedures.
Achievements:
Reduced Costs: I developed a new wiring procedure for the flight control system. Since 1984, there was a continuous problem with external induction on the existing wiring. This new wiring procedure will save the Air Force over $1,500,000 a year.
Improved System Performance: I established the wing's first Radio Frequency Line Test Set program. This is a thorough system reliability check. It checks the amount of db loss on RF lines. After using this test check, we achieved a 100% system pass during evaluations. I received a Commendation Medal for my efforts.

We did two things here. We started each job task with a verb anyone can understand: supervise, coordinate, prepare, etc.

Then, we gave meaning to his job descriptions by transforming job tasks into end results: reduced costs and improved system performance. By doing this, the reader understands his basic job tasks even though they really don't understand the particulars of his job.

This veteran received a job offer right after we completed his resume.

Here's another example of how we turned a fact-laden resume into a meaningful, persuasive reading experience.

This Navy veteran was near retirement and was actively seeking employment. She had contacted me because she had received no employer interest despite sending out many resumes.

But what was significant about her case was not what resulted on the printed page (which was similar to the end result of the Air Force veteran cited above) but what was discovered while we sought to communicate a meaningful and persuasive reading experience for the resume screener.

This is an excerpt from her original resume:

--Supervised customer service office personnel ensuring all duties were performed accurately and timely, setting clear expectations and delivering results, providing excellent customer service to personnel. Managed 5 military personnel.
--Functioned as liaison between numerous internal divisions as well as outside agencies, establishing working relationships promoting smooth, efficient transfer of information and assistance as needed.
--Analyzed and improved departmental operations.
Established new performance standards and procedures resulting in increased productivity and more efficient resource utilization, allowing direct product delivery to the customer.
--Program manager for various military personnel programs, identified needs, training requirements and utilized available resources resulting in increased customer satisfaction and accountability. Experience includes personnel actions, enlisted evaluations, assignments, manning, and military administration.
--Provided wide range of administrative and clerical duties including scheduling appointments and meetings, maintaining administrative files, personnel files, typing, filing, faxing, and answering phones.
--Prepared official correspondence, internal correspondence, checked for correctness, spelling, grammar, punctuation and conformity to instructions and guidance.
--Developed and presented new employee orientation designed to increase employee awareness on policies, requirements and organizations mission and goals.
Trained new employees on roper procedures, requirements and standards to ensure smooth transition into new position.
--Organized, tracked, and conducted 90 day, six-month, and annual reviews for all employees, provided counseling to employees, reviewed complaints and provided resolutions on various issues such as work place relations, promotions, pay issues, harassment, EEO topics, policies and procedures.
--Experienced in working with both civilian and military. Able to work independently without direction.
--Experience in working with all levels of staff and senior officials from all branches of the military and civilian population.

It is very detailed, to say the least. But I was overwhelmed by the information and asked myself, "What does this all mean?" I told her so and she agreed with my conclusion and agreed to a re-write.

In the first draft, I re-wrote this job description in the following manner:

--Supervised customer service office personnel ensuring all duties were performed accurately and timely, setting clear expectations and delivering results, providing excellent customer service to personnel. Managed 5 military personnel.
--Functioned as liaison between numerous internal divisions as well as outside agencies, establishing working relationships promoting smooth, efficient transfer of information and assistance as needed.
--Provided wide range of administrative and clerical duties including scheduling appointments and meetings, maintaining administrative files, personnel files, typing, filing, faxing, and answering phones.
--Coordinated travel itineraries, special events, and presentations. Prepared official correspondence, internal correspondence, checked for correctness, spelling, grammar, punctuation and conformity to instructions and guidance.
--Organized, tracked, and conducted 90 day, six-month, and annual reviews for all employees, provided counseling to employees, reviewed complaints and provided resolutions on various issues such as work place relations, promotions, pay issues, harassment, EEO topics, policies and procedures.
--Experienced in working with both civilian and military. Able to work independently without direction. Experience in working with all levels of staff and senior officials from all branches of the military and civilian population.
Achievements:
Improved Productivity: Analyzed and improved departmental operations. Established new performance standards and procedures resulting in increased productivity and more efficient resource utilization, allowing direct product delivery to the customer.
Increased Customer Satisfaction: Program manager for various military personnel programs, identified needs, training requirements and utilized available resources resulting in increased customer satisfaction and accountability. Experience includes personnel actions, enlisted evaluations, assignments, manning, and military administration.
Improved Employee Relations: Developed and presented new employee orientation designed to increase employee awareness on policies, requirements and organizations mission and goals. Trained new employees on roper procedures, requirements and standards to ensure smooth transition into new position.

This first draft of re-writing solved many of her problems. But in the course of re-interviewing her, we discovered as a result of our probing for meaning that she had some other skills and achievements she had not listed.

Thus, in the final draft, the following job description resulted:

--Supervised customer service office personnel ensuring all duties were performed accurately and timely, setting clear expectations and delivering results, providing excellent customer service to personnel.
--Functioned as liaison between numerous internal divisions as well as outside agencies, establishing working relationships promoting smooth, efficient transfer of information and assistance as needed.
--Organized, tracked, and conducted 90 day, six-month, and annual reviews for all employees, provided counseling to employees, reviewed complaints and provided resolutions on various issues such as work place relations, promotions, pay issues, harassment, EEO topics, policies and procedures.
--Provided wide range of administrative and clerical duties including scheduling appointments and meetings, maintaining administrative files, personnel files, typing, filing, faxing, and answering phones.
--Coordinated travel itineraries, special events, and presentations. Prepared official correspondence, internal correspondence, checked for correctness, spelling, grammar, punctuation and conformity to instructions and guidance.
Achievements:
Improved Productivity: Analyzed and improved departmental operations for checking in new personnel, designed standard check-in sheet to ensure all new employees receive the same treatment and information, check in sheet was tied to personnel data base and all new check-ins were automatically added to system. Established new performance standards and procedures so that all customer service reps were cross trained or could follow standard operating procedures so that any service rep could assist personnel from any branch of the military, resulting in increased productivity and more efficient resource utilization, allowing direct product delivery to the customer.
Increased Customer Satisfaction: Program manager for various military personnel programs. Identified needs, training requirements and utilized available resources resulting in increased customer satisfaction and accountability. Experience includes personnel actions, enlisted evaluations, assignments, manning, and military administration.
Improved Employee Relations: Developed program to contact all new employees prior to arrival and providing them with information about the command and local area. Implemented orientation designed to increase employee awareness on policies, requirements and organizations mission and goals. Trained new employees on proper procedures, requirements and standards to ensure smooth transition into new position.
Developed Personnel Department Database: participated in the development of database that tracked all personnel, combining personal, security, advancement, assignment, etc. fields into one database for "one stop shopping."
Developed Personnel Department Website: designed, monitored, and updated department website that provided the latest instructions, directives, dates of importance etc. The website consolidated disparate sources of information and guidance.

While this final version is a bit long for my taste, I decided to go with the result because (1) this final draft sheds an entirely new light on her skills and experience and (2) she could always cut and edit the text.

There's one other thing you should know about this example. Prior to finalizing her resume, without my knowledge, she took the 2nd draft and sent it out to a position she thought she was qualified for. She received an immediate response and the employer told her that "her resume was impressive."

...

Quite often military retirees tell me that my arguments for a meaningful resume do not matter because resumes are now machine-scanned or other technologies are used select resumes.

This is true. Resumes are increasingly scanned and selected by technology based upon occurrences of keywords.

But computers do not hire you!

Yes, a pile of resumes may be pruned down by technology. But at some point, a human being will look at your resume before a job offer letter is created.

Human beings seek meaning. Human beings need persuasion. Human beings take actions when they are given a meaningful experience that persuades them.

Good Luck In Your Job Search!

Disclaimer
All opinions, advice, statements or other information expressed in this article are solely the author's and do not necessarily express the opinions of MilitaryHire.com or the publisher.