When you leave the military, the biggest question is "what's next?" It's a scary job market right now, but the skills you've received in the military make you highly marketable. The Legion sponsors dozens of veterans hiring fairs each year, and our employment experts also provide tips to writing resumes, networking and making a strong impression in the interview process.
After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, Petty Officer Ginnis was leaving active duty and heading back to the civilian world. By the time she got involved with the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Ginnis had about 30 days left before the end of her enlistment.
It then dawned on her that she was going to need a job or end up moving back in with her parents. She started checking job boards and quickly realized two things. First, she didn’t have a résumé or the slightest idea on how to write one. Second, she didn’t have any experience that she thought she could write about. How was Ginnis going to find a job?
I’ve seen a number of servicemembers who leave the military in relatively junior positions. They are usually honorably discharged, full of energy and ready to take on a whole new challenge. Some will find a free résumé site and begin writing their own. The problem is that the résumé often comes out a little "light". What do you do?
Don’t panic. Sometimes the résumé seems rather thin because you haven’t really done any homework on yourself. For starters, make sure you have a copy of all your evaluations. Stack them up and ensure that there are no gaps in service. If there is something you accomplished during one time period that didn’t continue through your entire tour, make sure you highlight it in your résumé.
Next, review your evaluations for relevant bragging points. Look through all the comment blocks and review your accomplishments. Is there anything worth writing about? Are your accomplishments listed? If you can’t see how much time or money you’ve saved, try asking your chain-of-command. They should be tracking savings for their own résumés. Make a list of those accomplishments and be sure to add them.
Also, be sure to look over your collateral duties. Are there any that relate to the job you want to do? Did you produce any results in those jobs? If it’s relevant, include it.
Finally, look over your awards. If you received any meritorious personal or unit awards, they can be an excellent addition to your accomplishments. Review them. If it’s a unit citation, figure out your contribution and write it down.
"Light" résumés can get heavier by adding information from sources that discuss your accomplishments. Between your evaluations, which include the comment box and your collateral duties, and your awards, you should find enough information to make your résumé more substantial. In the end, Ginnis was able to find the job she wanted. With a little bit of work, so will you!