Resume Writing Tips


Six to ten seconds. That’s the typical amount of time a recruiter spends reviewing a resume. What can you do to make sure your resume stands out in the crowd?

Be brief – but make an impact

Military resumes offer a unique challenge – generally, they’re broad in scope. That’s why it’s important to tailor your resume to each job. Focus on the future – what job do you want? What skills and experiences are most relevant to that career path? Keep those on the resume and leave off extraneous details. And keep it brief: most resumes should not exceed two pages.

Promote your personal brand

Are you exceptionally detail oriented and work well under pressure? Or maybe you’re a big thinker who loves coming up with game-changing ideas. Each of these traits would be part of your personal brand – the way your unique personality and skillset combines to make you a great candidate. If you’re struggling to figure out your personal brand, ask a trusted peer or mentor to describe you in three words. You may begin to see similar themes in their responses; you can craft your personal brand from these common ideas!

Example: Delivering project management expertise, along with business analysis and application design, development, and implementation proficiencies to organizations seeking a dynamic, self-motivated professional.

Don’t get caught up in military jargon

A recruiter or interviewer may not be familiar with military acronyms or phrases.

Instead of this: Deployed in support of OFI as a M249 gunner in a 20-man recon platoon.
Try this: Served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of a 20-person team tasked with intelligence gathering missions.

Numbers make your resume stand out

When a reviewer skims a resume, hard numbers will always tend to jump out. Use percentages, dollar values, and actual numbers to support your accomplishments.

Instead of this: In charge of operations training across many locations.
Try this: Led 8 team members to develop operations training for 2,000 personnel in 35 separate groups and 3 different locations, increasing operational readiness by 15%.

Highlight your accomplishments, awards, and education

Depending on your accomplishments, you can find a place for many certifications, awards, citations, and clearances. A few rules of thumb:

  • You can highlight recent and relevant degrees by putting them towards the top of your resume.
  • Certain citations and awards can help you stand out from other candidates, but a recruiter may not understand their significance without context. Consider tying them to an action.
  • If a clearance is required for the position, consider highlighting it towards the top of your resume.

Take your time

Spend time crafting your resume and looking it over. Proofread for spelling or grammatical errors, use consistent grammatical tense (past tense vs. present tense), and use a readable font size that’s at least 11 points. Make sure all the different versions of your resume have a consistent timeline of work experiences. Finally, ask a few non-military friends to look over your resume and point out areas they don’t quite understand.