How These Words Can Power Up Your Resume


Whether you write it yourself or enlist assistance, preparing your resume is an important part of the military-to-civilian career transition. In addition to making sure your resume is relevant to the industry, company and job for which you are applying, you'll likely have questions, including:

  • What should you include and leave off?
  • How much detail should you go into for each job held?
  • Do you list every position you've held in the military or just your civilian work?
  • How many of your accommodations, medals and awards should you list?

And perhaps most importantly: How can you make your work in the military understandable and attractive to a civilian hiring manager?

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

Use Relevant Keywords

I remember an Army sergeant first class telling me about an interview experience he had. As he left the military, he wanted to pursue a career in project management. During one of his first interviews, the hiring manager asked him to describe a time he'd managed a complex project. He looked at her with a blank expression on his face and replied: "I've never managed a project."

Later, while discussing the interview with a buddy, his friend scolded him: "What do you mean you've never managed a project?" The sergeant replied, "I've only managed missions, not projects."

This kind of disconnect in language is important to address. Learn the correct narrative, terminology and keywords for the industry and company you are pursuing. If they refer to the job as "online merchandising specialist" but you know it as "information technology analyst," then go with their language. They will scan your resume for the keywords they are most familiar with.

Related: Unleash your career potential and get customized job recommendations based on your military experience and personality traits.

Directed Managed  Built Introduced Created
Trained Led Earned Authored Developed
Advised Demonstrated Shaped Motivated Designed
Supervised Succeeded Justified Operated Drove
Collaborated Enhanced Attained Strengthened Advanced
Inspired Influenced Impacted Persuaded Ran

Get the idea? Instead of listing, "responsible for the transportation of materials and supplies to specific locations," you might write: "Directed and supervised the successful transport of mission-critical supplies ..." The latter sounds more confident and skilled.

Final Words

Before you hit "send" on a resume, cover letter or online profile, spell-check three or four times. Better yet, have a friend or colleague proofread your materials. You can't just rely on your computer's spell-checking function or a quick glance. Odds are, mistakes (typos or grammar) will be spotted quickly by a hiring manager, possibly damaging your chances for an interview.

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Job Search section.

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