Resumes Mistakes From an NCO

I received a resume from an Air Force NCO (non-commissioned officer) who has recently transitioned from active duty into the reserves.  The NCO makes a number of common military transition mistakes in his resume. 

The core of the problem is the NCO writes a resume focusing entirely on his qualifications in the military.  It would be a good resume if he wanted a job in the Air Force.  Unfortunately, that’s not his goal.  This individual is looking to do something in the commercial sector.  He wants to utilize some of the skills he gained in the military, but he is targeting a civilian job.

Let’s look at the structure:

Objective:  To use the training and experience I received in the military to make a significant contribution, as a civilian, in making my community a safer place to live.   
Technical Training:  <long list of military training classes, almost all are related to specific combat activities or Air Force equipment>

Work History:  <Listing to job titles and dates in the Air Force>

Experience:  <A bulleted list showing the scope of responsibility in various leadership roles held by the NCO>

Certifications:  <A certification related to the career field the NCO wants to pursue>

Awards:  <A list of performance awards won by the NCO>

There is some good content in this resume, but most of it is of little value to an employer. This individual wants a role using his Hazmat skills.  He has taken several training classes in this field, has a certification related to the field and one year of experience. 

Unfortunately, digging this detail out of the resume takes too much work.  The emphasis of the resume is on his military experience.  The military experience shows a pattern of success and progression of increasing responsibility.  This is a good track record, but it does little to show what the job seeker would do in a completely different role.  The military experience and success in the roles he held should play a supporting role on his resume.  The lead role is his experience and skill in the hazmat field. 

Below is how I would restructure the resume:

Professional Summary:  <A summary statement and bulleted list of key skills, training, certifications and accomplishments directly related to hazmat>

Work Experience:  <Job Listing with details of hazmat experience, leadership experience and other transferrable skills>

Education:  <Listing of education and training received>

Awards:  <Listing of awards>

This structure focuses the top half of the first page on the hazmat experience and skills.  It is much more relevant to a hiring manager than the previous version that listed courses such as “USAF Airborne Battle Management Course.”  Expanding the work experience section to provide significantly more detail on the job seeker’s responsibilities and accomplishments will also help.

The bottom line is the NCO needs to make a sales pitch for what he can contribute in the private sector, and more specifically, in the role he is pursuing.  Showing success in the military is nice, but there is a lot of competition for jobs.  The successful job seeker will demonstrate the value they can offer.  Demonstrating this value comes from showing key skills and accomplishments.  To maximize the effectiveness of the sales pitch, it needs to be at the top of the resume, not buried further down.