Everyone leaving the service goes through the required Transition Assistance Program classes, where we all learn how to write resumes. For many of us, however, finishing an enlistment in the military doesn't make for a lot of resume fodder.
All the experts say we should limit our resumes to one page. When you write it all out, then add education, work experience and skills, it can look like you come up a little short. Getting to a page seems like a Herculean task.
It's OK for your resume not to be filled with experience. Everyone starts somewhere.
When you have limited work experience, hopefully you are applying for a job that requires only limited work experience, an entry-level position. In this case, you will be judged on your education, certifications (if necessary) and the skills you bring to the job.
The best part about applying to an entry-level job is that employers are looking for people like you. Anyone applying to that job with a full resume will be deemed "overqualified" and immediately be tossed aside.
If you shouldn't be applying for entry-level jobs, don't.
Think of your resume as a marketing tool. In this case, you'll need to detail all the features and value the product (you) can bring to a workplace. When it comes to listing your experience, remember: For your first job, any experience counts.
Don't depend on the uniform to speak for your work ethic or leadership abilities, for example. If you worked through the night on a routine basis to get the job done, describe that. If you were trained in some kind of professional military school, like the one you take when you reach non-commissioned officer status, that would be something that makes you stand out.
On top of translating all that good military leadership training and job certifications, you can also list the number of groups you're a member of or organizations in which you're a volunteer. This is especially helpful if you've ever held a leadership position for those organizations. If you were the treasurer of your local VFW post, that's something you can add.
The same goes for any clubs at any school you've ever attended. Being captain of the football team shows multitasking abilities and leadership. Being the captain of anything demonstrates that you are an effective member of a team.
Finally, if you've received awards or have been recognized for an achievement, either as part of your military service, outside of the military or before you ever joined, that is something that speaks to your character and might just be worth its own place on your resume.
After filling in the usual suspects on your resume -- work experience, education, skills and certifications -- then adding memberships, professional development courses, awards and achievements, you might just have a resume you have to trim down to fit onto one page.
Want to Know More About Veteran Jobs?
Be sure to get the latest news about post-military careers, as well as critical info about veteran jobs and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.