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A Veteran’s Approach to a Job Search (Part 4)

Wow! I got overwhelmed just thinking about writing this. It made me think about the time I prepared my résumé for the first time.

Notice I said “first.”

Your résumé is an ever-evolving work in progress. Just when you think you have written the perfect résumé, the rules or information changes. Like you, your résumé is unique. Some résumés are overweight, some light. Some are well put together, some are unorganized. Some look good, some … well, you get the point.

Your résumé is a reflection of you. We have all seen someone that was wearing an ill-fitting outfit. Everyone knows it looks bad, but the person wearing it is either in denial, clueless, or simply does not care.

That is where leaders step up and use empathy, grace, and sensitivity to let that person know what needs to be fixed. Not subtly or by beating around the bush, but truthfully. That is what we all need. Caring, honesty, truth.

This does not apply to everyone or every résumé. Some people are very good about receiving constructive criticism or feedback and take action to improve. These people usually have effective résumés.

However, if your résumé needs work or you need to build an effective one, there are many resources available to assist. Internet search is our friend. A simple search for “résumé resources” reveals many options. Choose your search engine, try different search engines, and play with keywords. You will identify a large number of resources there to help you at no cost.

The beauty of the Internet is that most information is free. Spend a good day or two reviewing these sites and sample résumés and résumé templates. Look at job boards and career sites, because while many sites offer paid services, most people will find that the free information is valuable and all they need.

I found one professional site that offered free analysis. I sent my résumé to them and they made many, many comments. You can then decide to let them make the changes at a cost, or to make the changes yourself, which, I found, was fairly easy to do.

Check out the different formats and read comments from reviewers. Read up on experts in the industry. You can even ask your friends and colleagues for a copy of their résumés. Ask professors, accountants, managers, or anyone who has the job you want or the level you are aiming for.

See what a friend’s résumé looks like who is entry-level, then compare it to someone’s résumé who has a position similar to your experience, or the level of job you want. Make sure your résumé measures up to the position you are claiming qualifications for.

For Veterans, be sure to take the military jargon out of it. The person reading your résumé may or may not be a Veteran, but will want to see that you are able to adapt and translate your skills to their company.

Now complete your toolkit with a well-written cover letter and follow-up thank-you messages. Most of the résumé sites have great templates for that messaging, as well. Make sure to send follow-up messages. The more creative and specific you are in your method and message, the better the impact will be. The methods can vary depending on the situation and even our budgets, but make the effort.

Finally, if you are conducting an active job search, you may be burning the midnight oil and weekends to complete all this. If you are currently seeking employment, then this is your full-time job (more on this when we “Plan your work” in an upcoming post). But stay motivated and research, adapt and improve.

Our next topic is about improving our education qualifications, so you can get a head start thinking about that. But for now, you should have a pretty impressive résumé in a week.

Whether you are applying for your next career at VA or in your hometown, these tips can improve your chances for being selected for the position. And remember, the résumé is intended to get you interviews. No interviews? It may be the fault of your résumé.

Be sure to review the hiring tips on VA Careers and Feds Hire Vets.

The Veteran’s Approach to a Job Search Series:

About the Author:

Darren Sherrard is the associate director for Recruitment Marketing and Advertising at VA’s Office of Workforce Management and Consulting. Darren retired from the U.S. Army with 20 years of service. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management, is a Senior Fellow of Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, a Certified Contracting Officer Representative (COR) II and a Federal Acquisition Corps Program Manager (PM) I.

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