Are you procrastinating (again) instead of writing your resume? During military transition, it can feel like you were issued a mechanical monkey who wakes you up with his tiny cymbals to remind you that you have not finished that resume. And without it, you will never, ever, ever get a job. Or go back to sleep.
I hate that monkey. I hate writing resumes. Shoot, nearly everyone hates writing resumes. And brain monkeys.
As the transition master coach for Military.com's Veteran Employment Project, I hear from veterans with resume problems every week. When I ask about your biggest resume challenge, you tell me it is overwhelming. That you don't know what job you are looking for. That you don't know what to include. That you are afraid to look stupid. That it makes you feel like you have trained for 20 years and are qualified to do exactly nothing.
No wonder you aren't finishing your resume. If you are trying to finish that thing today, here are eight practical, strategic or emotionally intelligent things you can do to quiet your inner monkey and get ready to push send on your application.
1. Don't Do Nothing.
Poet Alex Dimitrov was not thinking of resumes specifically when he wrote about why we procrastinate, but it applies here. "Some people feel confusion and uncertainty [which are often things that arrive right before possibility] and do nothing. Don't do nothing."
Resolving to do something -- anything -- on your resume is very likely to help you break through your reluctance and make progress.. Set a time for 10 minutes and get started. You will be amazed how often that breaks through your procrastination and gets you going.
One tiny thing you can do that will really get your resume moving in the right direction is to sign up for our newest FREE master class, Blast Start Resume, on March 16 at 4 p.m. EST. Get your resume done in 60 minutes or less.
2. Set Up a Test-Free Zone.
Sometimes that monkey clanging in your brain blows up the importance of your resume and cues your inner perfectionist.
Remind yourself the resume is not a test of the value of yourself as a human. A tribunal will not meet to read your resume and vote you off the planet. The resume is a simple matching game between you and the hiring manager. It is amazing how much you can get done in a short period of time when you set accurate expectations.
3. Abandon the "Master" Resume.
Telling yourself you need a master resume that includes every single thing you have ever done is guaranteed to trigger a massive monkey attack. People often think the master resume is a good idea, because they were told someone got a job from some obscure experience they had as a junior officer in 1996.
Believe me, no one will search through your resume for obscure talents. What is more likely is that you will see that obscure word on a job listing, and it will spark you to include it on your resume.
4. Use a Keyword Extractor.
The modern resume is not supposed to be a career obituary. Instead, it is supposed to be a shopping list. Every skill you include is supposed to correspond with every qualification included in the job listing.
Use a keyword extractor like Skillsyncer or Jobscan to pluck out a group of hard skills from the job listing. Identify where you used those hard skills in your past jobs. The resume will write itself.
Get our demo of Jobscan in our FREE master class, The Checklist Resume, or in our FREE master class, Reverse Resume for Spouses.
5. Dictate Your Resume in Word.
Sometimes, typing gets in the way of good writing. Get out of your head and onto the page by using the Dictate feature of your word processing software.
For example, in Word in Microsoft 365, open a new document, then click on Home>Dictate. Click on the button that looks like a microphone and start talking. The words show up on the page. Talk about the things you did on the job that correspond to the qualifications in the job listing. It is often easier to delete things that are not resume-worthy instead of trying to think up something new.
6. Write It Like an Email.
Your inner monkey loves multisyllabic words. Your inner monkey thinks these words sound smart. Instead, this kind of overly formal resume language puts everyone to sleep, especially hiring managers.
To write a clear resume, use a skill you use on the job in the military every day: Write an email. Imagine that you are writing an email to a hiring manager who already likes you. Go ahead and write it in first person with the word "I" starting every sentence. After you are done, go back and delete all the "I's" and start each sentence with the verb. Easy peasy.
7. Fill in a Template.
Sometimes, the complications of trying to set up a document with columns, bullets and fonts is enough to make you want to quit. Go ahead and use our free template included in our Checklist Resume Master Class. You will need to sign up to be part of our free Veteran Employment Project community, but it only takes a minute and gives you access to all our resources.
If you are a senior military leader and you need a senior military resume template, reach out to me on SeniorMilitaryTransition.com, and I will hook you up.
8. Work Back to Front.
When you are working with a template, sometimes you can break through procrastination by doing the easy stuff first. On a resume, the easy stuff is at the back. Start with your education section. You know all those answers without looking them up. Then skip to the front and fill in your contact info at the top of the page. Follow this with the checklist of skills. Finally, copy and paste your career experience from another resume into the middle.
The military job hunt requires that you manage a lot of challenging emotions like anxiety and perfectionism. Unexamined, those emotions easily trigger perfectionism. In the end, I think
military people procrastinate because they don't want to be judged. Don't be afraid of being judged. This is a time where done is better than perfect.
Finish your resume today and push send. The world is waiting for you.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Find Your Next Job Fast
Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series including our next class You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.