Young Veteran's Special: Resume Basics

by Randall Scasny

To begin a quick and successful job search, young veterans must do four things in the following order: (1) they must make a realistic review of their job skills; (2) determine what kind of jobs they are qualified for based on employer hiring standards; (3) write their resume targeted to specific jobs and, finally, (4) apply for jobs.

In this article, I will cover the third step in your career transition: resume basics. To do this, I will cover five points:

  • What is a Resume?
  • How a Resume is Used by An Employer?
  • What Information Should Be On A Resume?
  • Things that Wreck A Resume
  • Free Resume Services

There are countless books, articles, and manuals on what a resume is and how to write one. If you go to any bookstore, you can purchase a book that will give you the basics. Many of you will go to the Internet and look for free resume samples. These sources help you format a resume. But a resume is more than a properly formatted document.

A resume may look like a document that details your job skills and experience but it is much more than that. It is a marketing brochure that's no different from other brochures advertising the benefits of buying one product over another.

A resume tells the employer that you are interesting and your professional background can help them out. So, in essence, a resume is a "sales" document. This is the key thing most people miss. Since they miss it, they have problems applying the resume in the job marketplace.

When employers want to fill an open position, they compile a list of resumes of "hot" job candidates that they want to interview. So, your resume is not only compared against an employer's job requirements, but also against other job hunters. Thus, everyone is competing for a job interview initially. Those who win the job interview go to the next step and then compete for a job offer.

The information on resumes varies with the job candidate and the type of job. But all resumes should contain:

  • Name
  • Contact Information
  • Objective (What position are you applying for?)
  • Education
  • Computer Skills
  • Job History (Chronological Order; most recent jobs come first.)
  • Professional Training and Certifications
  • Awards (For vets, I consider this an important piece of resume information. However, it is optional.)

For a young veteran, this information should cover up to 2 pages. Most of you will only have a 1-page resume. However, in some cases, where you have technical skills and have worked on a lot of equipment, your resume will be longer because you will add an "Equipment List" to your resume.

I see a lot of resumes. And I'll be honest with you: most young veterans' resumes are inadequate. I see a lot of spelling errors, word usage errors (for ex.: the "their/there" error), and a lack of required resume information.

These errors wreck a resume! If you use "their" when it should be "there," your resume will likely get tossed if there is another job candidate available. Grammatical errors communicate that you lack attention to detail, have problems communicating, or are uneducated.

All word processing software have spell checkers. But this software doesn't catch everything! If you aren't sure, get someone to proofread your resume for you.

Finally, if you feel you cannot write a good resume yourself, then seek out some professional help. There are a number of "free" resume writing services you can use. Here are a few:

Free resume writing services are usually good enough for the types of resumes that young veterans need to compete in today's job marketplace. Make sure you use them. "Job seeker paid" resume services do exist, however. These services usually provide more than a resume. Paid services should be used when you are having difficulty in securing "any" job interviews. But use the free services first!