Nathan Huret • Jul 22, 2021

This is your first impression – your resume (Part 1/3)

This blog post represents the first in a series of posts we will be making over the coming weeks as we gear up for our inaugural HKY4Vets Virtual Hiring Event on August 26th (info here).

We hope this information is helpful to those attendees, but perhaps it might be useful to others in their pursuit of a new opportunity.

First Impressions Count

First impressions count, especially when it comes to resumes! No matter your expertise level, an ineffective resume is likely to sabotage your chances of being considered for a position right from the get-go. This is particularly true for those transitioning from military to civilian jobs. While many leave the service with valuable skills and experience, they struggle to showcase these to their potential employers.

So if your job applications are meeting with radio silence, there could be a simple reason — your resume is not up to scratch. In fact, this is why many highly qualified candidates who are the perfect fit for a position, don’t even get their foot in the door. With this in mind, here are the 5 most common resume blunders.

1. Not Customizing Your Resume for the Position

Sending the same resume for positions that require different skills is a recipe for disaster. If you want the hiring manager to take your application seriously, you need to show them why your particular experience matches the job description. This also applies to jobs in the same industry, since each company’s culture and requirements differ. A resume that is not specifically tailored to the advertised job only shows the employer that you are not overly interested in the position.

Why not take a closer look at the job description. What are the skills and experience the company is looking for? What specific phrases are they using to describe their requirements? Think about how you can package your skills to meet these requirements (this can involve describing your military experience in a business-friendly way).

2. Making Your Resume Too Long

Considering today’s competitive job market, your potential employer is likely to receive hundreds of applications for the same position. As such, they want to see the key information about your skills and experience within seconds of looking at your resume. To maximize your chances of landing a job, avoid writing something that looks like a short novel about your experiences in the military.

Ideally, try not to make your resume longer than two pages (aim for a page if you can get away with it). Limit the information you present, focusing on quality rather than quantity. Focus on your achievements rather than job duties. Write concise, to-the-point sentences that start with action verbs, such as handled, managed, led and coordinated.

3. Using Overly Elaborate Formatting

Writing a resume is about your skills and experience, not how creative you can get with Photoshop. Never use wacky fonts — standard fonts such as Times New Roman and Ariel are both safe and easy-to-read options. In addition, this is definitely not the time to be inventive in the layout department. Your resume should have a clean and simple layout that makes it easy for hiring managers to find the information they are looking for.

4. Making Grammar and Speling Mistakez

Attention to detail is a valuable skill. If your resume is full of grammar mistakes and typos, your potential employer will immediately assume that that is a quality you lack. A resume with grammatical and spelling errors will also show that you didn’t even bother to run the document through a spell check, which a recruiter will take as a sign that you don’t really take the application process seriously. For best results, run your resume through a spell check and give it to a friend or family member to proofread. Heck, you can even send it our way, and we are happy to have some folks review it and come back with suggested edits.

5. Including Personal Information

While in the past some employers appreciated some personal information, this is generally no longer the case. In fact, these days it is illegal to take personal information into account when making hiring decisions. In addition, it’s probably best not to give overly specific information about your hobbies — at the end of the day, your future employer doesn’t need to know what shows you watch on weekends. Instead focus on information that is relevant to the job at hand such as educational background, skillset and experience.

Aside from irrelevant details, it’s also crucial not to include any outdated information on your resume. This is particularly important when it comes to contact details. After all, if an employer can’t get in touch with you, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the job. Another thing that is likely to put off a recruiter is an unprofessional email address (listing drunkenbear@XXX as your contact address is unlikely to win you any favors with a potential employer). Ideally, your email address should include your first and last name. If you don’t have one, they are free and can be set up in minutes.

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