STRATEGY FOR MILITARY-TO-CIVILIAN RESUME
As an engineer, design your resume in according to 3 critical design parameters: speed, simplicity, and text density. I did not mention length – the most frequently asked question – which is an optional design parameter: iideally, you want to limit the resume to two pages, but there is hard rule about length (one, two, or three pages are okay).
SPEED: If your resume cannot hook the reader’s interest in 6-10 seconds, it’s dead. Reviewers don’t actually “read” your resume on first pass words; they “eyeball” it for a few seconds and make a snap decision to “pass” or “trash,” all based on an initial impression based on the first seconds of a quick “eyeballing.”
I’m not saying this is a fair assessment of your potential value to a company – but you’ve only got 6-10 seconds to wow the interviewer and pass the screening.
In fact, six seconds is a long time when you’re eyeballing a pile of 50 resumes. I invite you to test this for your self – pick up a sheaf of papers and drop them into a trash can one-by-one. You can eyeball each page in a few seconds, and that’s how recruiters and hiring managers “read” your resume on first pass.
SIMPLICITY: First impression is hugely important – i.e., the resume must look like it’s easy to read. Imagine a laboratory mouse navigating his way through a maze. The goal is design the maze so the mouse gets in and out in minimal time. Now imagine your resume is the maze and the recruiter is the rodent who must navigate your resume. If it’s not easy to read, they’ll probably trash it on the spot.
Make sure that each element of your resume – each paragraph, each bullet, each job description – is broken down into a “bite sized” element that makes logical sense and is easy to digest.”Logical” means that your writing is easy to follow, you do that by setting up a simple and consistent hierarchy of headlines and subheadings.
TEXT DENSITY: Roughly 1000 words spread over two pages is usually acceptable. A very common mistake is to cram additional text into 2 pages because “two pages are easier to read than three pages.” That is nonsense. A well formatted, three-page resume is much easier to read than a crowded two-page resume. When you cram too much text into the resume, your message is as difficult to read as the fine print on a phone bill. Don’t do it.
Finally, be sure to spell out all of the technical and military-specific words, phrases, and jargon. I can’t imagine an occupational area that uses more acronyms than the military. Even the simplest ideas have complicated algorithms. So be sure to do that on the first instance.