Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest Post: Resumes that Get Results

Today we welcome a guest blog post from Todd Hecht, owner of MilitaryStars.

Across the country, employers and recruiters alike have the same consensus - resume quality is quite possibly at its lowest level from military veterans. Your resume is the first contact and introduction an employer will see from you. Here are a few tips and information that will help you put together a resume that will get noticed.

In over 12 years of working with military veterans and companies who hire military, the one thing I have learned is that everyone has an opinion on how a resume should look. There are literally thousands of blog posts, books, tips, etc. that address resumes, all with varied differing opinions. The following is from my perspective and experience. For me these tips have lead to well over 1,500 placements of my fellow veterans with many of the Fortune 500/100 and other top companies in America.

First and foremost, let’s talk about what a resume should do. Recruiters and hiring authorities will go through hundreds of resumes per day, both online and print. It’s important to look at things through their prospective. A resume should be concise and quickly catch the eye of the reader. It should be properly formatted and show no potential red flags -- things that make it easy to disqualify you from moving on in the hiring process, that make recruiters think they will be wasting their valuable time to call you. A resume should have easily locatable keywords that stand out and pique interest, and it should detail past success and show future value to the company. Here are my tips and tricks for writing an excellent resume:

Your resume needs to be a .doc or .txt file to be readable by online applicant tracking systems and to assure it holds proper formatting when emailing. Your resume should be in chronological format - if it is in anything other, it can be the initial red flag that the applicant is trying hide something in their employment history (i.e. job hopping, breaks in employment, etc.). This can make the difference between getting called/ tagged for further processing or dumped in the trash can. Chronological format means that your resume should show consecutive dates of employment from job to job. Dates should go in order. If for some reason you have a period of non-employment that should be covered (i.e. 10/97 to 10/98 - Stay at home mom/dad, 10/97 to 10/98 – Full-time student, etc.).

This is one of those areas that there are many varying opinions. If you want callbacks and to be effective, follow the rule of thumb that less than ten years of work history gets one page, over ten years can go to two pages, but one is still better. In the case you are an educator, scientist, research student, doctor, etc., the rules are different because you may be listing out patents, publishing, etc., but for most people follow the rule above. Here are some tips to help you consolidate down to one or two pages: use a 10 pt. font, decrease the top, bottom and side margins of the paper, use single spacing, and leave off all personal information (nobody needs to know your marital status and that you enjoy kayaking and scrapbooking).

This can be a confusing scenario. Everyone should have at least two (I recommend more) versions of their resume, but let’s talk about the first two you should be using. It is important to know what kind of job search you are doing. This can be broken down in two categories. First will be your passive job search. This is where you are putting your resume online in hopes that companies will find you (these would include resumes posted on Monster, CareerBuilder, Hot Jobs,, etc.). In this scenario, you will want to utilize a “Summary of Expertise” instead of an “Objective Statement.” This will help so that your Objective Statement does not limit a chance of getting a call from a company. For example, if your resume says “I want to be a Project Manager” but the searching company is looking for a “Production Supervisor,” even though you probably would have been interested, they may not call you for fear of wasting a valuable call given that they have ten other candidates they pulled that meet the criteria.

Next let’s discuss the active job search. This is where you are actively searching and submitting resumes directly to company websites for a specific position, by mail, fax, etc. You most definitely want to use an objective statement that is tailored toward the job you are applying for. Let’s face it, what better way to make a company feel special then to basically say in your statement “I want to work for you?”

As mentioned in the format section above, keeping with a chronological format, your work history should be structured with the dates of employment, title you held, company you worked for and location followed by a few sentences describing your job then a few bullets of successes.

Here is an example of how it should look:

Education can be one of the most important sections of your resume. If you have pursued post secondary education either in the service or after, it should be listed on your resume as well as any certifications you have attended formal schooling for and apprenticeships of any type. They can also include “A” Schools, tech schools, AIT, NCO academies, etc. One thing that not many people realize is that for Associate and Bachelor degrees, companies like to see GPA listed on your resume and some companies require it. If you have a 3.0 or better GPA you should locate the education section of your resume at the top just under the “Objective Statement” or “Summary of Expertise” and before “Work Experience.” Otherwise it should be located just following the “Work Experience.”

Resumes should be keyword heavy; these are words that stand out in your resume and pique interest on the part of the reader. In the case of an active job search, you should list keywords that apply to your experience and appear in the job description the company has posted in which you are applying for. For a passive job search, when using the “Summary of Expertise,” you should list numerous keywords that match your experience both in the Summary and also in the body of the resume. Your Summary should look like this:

Review the email address you are using on your resume. Is it professional? Too many times we will see and also hear recruiters joking, “Did you see that guy’s email address?” is not professional!

For military veterans especially, avoid acronyms. Instead of NCO use Non Commission Officer, Advanced Technical Training instead of AIT, etc.

If you decide to give your LinkedIn profile address in the header, make sure your profile is professional. Same goes for your voice mail - make sure it is professional, gives your name, doesn’t have music playing, etc.

Do not mistake your Monster resume profile as a properly formatted resume for submitting to companies at a career fair or any other medium other than on the site. uses special formatting that will not format well to other websites.

Never embellish items on your resume, as it is sure to come up during the interview.

In very competitive industries and fields, there can be a need for a professional resume writer. However, I must admit I am not the biggest fan. There are way too many free resources. After all, you wouldn’t let someone else write your marriage vows, right? I have found some of these resume writers to be awesome and some not so awesome. If you would like a recommendation I can certainly provide one for you that is top notch!

In summary, keep this in mind: very rarely does a resume get you a job. The mission of the resume is to get you noticed, get you the call back that leads to an interview which gets you the job! Focus on making it clear, concise and an eye catcher. Remember that resume readers go through hundreds per day. Think from their prospective. Own your own resume, and know it forwards and backwards. A good recruiter can tell a lot about you just from your resume and make the determination if you should get to the next step.

Look for my next blog post, “Nailing the Interview” on

About the author:
Todd Hecht is the owner of MilitaryStars, an employment services company originally founded by Orion International and GI Jobs Magazine. Todd is a former partner at Orion International and a US Navy Recruiting Manager. He has over 12 years post military experience helping veterans find jobs and assisting companies attract the top tier talent exiting the military service. Todd’s experience preparing job seekers for the recruitment process and consulting with companies on how to source and hire veterans has lead to several thousand new careers for our nation’s heroes.


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