Petty Officer Ginnis was thrilled. After serving four years in the Navy she was getting out and heading on her way back to the real world. She had been a Boatswain's Mate, learning how to tie knots and maintain a ship. "Yuck" she thought. "If I never see another anchor it will be all too soon!"
When she finally made it to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), she had about 30 days left before the end of her commitment. It was then that it dawned on her that she was going to need a job or end up moving back in with her parents. She started checking job boards and quickly realized two things. First, she didn't have a resume or the slighted idea on how to write one. Second, she didn't have any experience that she thought she could write about. How was she going to find a job?
I've seen a number of servicemembers who leave the military in relatively junior positions. They are usually honorably discharged, full of energy and ready to take on a whole new challenge. Some will find a free resume site and begin writing their own resume. The problem is that the resume often comes out a little light. What do you do?
Don't panic. Sometimes the resume comes off light because you haven't really done any homework on yourself. For starters, make sure you have a copy of all your evaluations. Stack them up and ensure that there are no gaps in service. In case there is something you accomplished during one period of time that didn't continue through your entire tour, you want to ensure you are able to capture this.
Next, review your evaluations for relevant bragging points. Look through all of the comment blocks and check out your accomplishments. Is there anything worth writing about? Are your accomplishments listed? If you can't see how much time or money you've saved, try asking your chain-of-command. They should be tracking savings for their own resumes. Make a list of those accomplishments and be sure to add them to your resume.
Also be sure to look over your collateral duties. Are there any that relate to the job you want to do? Did you produce any results in those jobs? Be sure to include it if it's relevant.
Finally, look over your awards. If you received any meritorious personal or unit awards, they can be an excellent source for your accomplishments. Review them. If it's a unit citation, figure out your contribution. Write it down and be sure to include it in your resume.
Light resumes can become a little less light by reviewing the sources that discuss your accomplishments. Between your evaluations, which include the comment box and your collateral duties, and your awards, you should find enough information to make your resume shine. In the end, Petty Officer Ginnis was able to find the job she wanted. With a little bit of work, so will you!
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Stephen Cleare is a small-town boy from Bourbonnais, IL, and is an author,consultant, professional speaker and career coach. Stephen has spent the past 24 years either in or working in support of the military. He entered the Navy as a seaman recruit, and after earning an NROTC scholarship and attending college, he became a supply corps officer where he deployed to Kosovo, Iraq and many other countries. Following his time in the service, Stephen used the principles in the book "The Little Green Guide for Veterans" to achieve professional success in the private sector. He has worked as a recruiter with many Fortune 500, mid-level and small businesses, helping them find exceptional leadership talent from the military. His blog can be found at www.tap2-0.com. You can also submit job search questions, big and small, to Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org.