Employer Engagement and Career Design partners with the Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers (CAVS) to support veteran and active duty students and alumni in their career exploration, job search, continuing education, and professional development.
- Start by removing all the military jargon and abbreviations from your resume. What may seem clear to you as a veteran/servicemember reads like hieroglyphics to most civilians. When you’re done, have a civilian with no military knowledge review your resume. Do they understand it? What questions come up? What needs explaining? Anything that isn’t universally understandable needs to be revised.
- Create a Master Resume. This is a document that you’ll never send to an employer. A Master Resume is a repository of all your professional experiences, skills/qualifications, education, volunteer work, etc. This can be as long as it needs to be to capture all that you’ve done. Consider pulling from past performance evaluations and previous job descriptions (JD) to help jog your memory. Now look at sample JDs for the types of roles you’d like to fill. How do they describe what they’re looking for? For example, does it mention that they want an “Experienced and effective team leader?” Rather than listing in your resume, “Awarded platoon leader of the month,” consider a different approach and use the formula: I accomplished X by doing Y for the result of Z. For instance, “Achieved a 0% employee attrition rate by implementing a new performance recognition program for a cost savings of over $75,000.”
- Create Target Resumes for each new position you apply to. Do not use the same resume for every application. Review the JD and pull the bullets from your Master Resume that best support your qualifications for this particular position. If you put in the work on your Master Resume, creating these Target Resumes is much easier.
- “I” (meaning YOU) is not a four-letter word. Don’t be afraid to take credit for the work you’ve done. In the military, it’s all about teamwork. However, employers aren’t looking to hire a team. They’re looking for one person to fill a role. If you want to be that person, you must speak to the things that you as a unique individual will bring to their organization. This is true for your resume as well as during the interview.
For more information on building your professional resume and to view samples by industry and professional level, visit our Resume Resources Page.
If you would like your resume reviewed, we recommend utilizing the VMock SMART resume platform, a 24-7 online resume review tool. You can also have your resume reviewed in person, or via phone or Skype during our drop-in Career Studio hours [M – Th: 8:30 AM – 7 PM and F: 8:30 AM – 5 PM (EST)].
- Learn to use “I” and speak about what YOU did/can do. Sure, you didn’t single handedly win any battles. And yes, you were a member of a team. But you had a role to play on that team. What was it? What did you bring to that role that was unique? How did your ideas and efforts make the team more effective?
- Lots of organizations have a leadership deficit, and it’s a hard skill to teach. You’ve been through one of the best leadership programs in the world: the U.S. Military. Provide examples of what you learned and how you applied it, but be sure to make your examples relatable.
- What are the less often highlighted skills that come from military service? Leadership, teamwork, and attention to detail are often cited. What about creativity and innovation? They say no plan survives first contact with the enemy, right? We learn to adapt and overcome. (So add “adaptability!”) Did you have a mission to complete without the necessary tool/technology/resources? Did you have to come up with a new way of completing a task? Were you successful? If not, talk about it in a positive way. What did you learn? How would you attack a problem like that in the future? Highlight examples of when you had to pivot and continue moving forward.
- Use the STAR Method to answer behavioral interview questions. Describe the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Organizing your responses in this way helps you answer the questions completely and effectively. This can also help keep your answers from being too short or too long and meandering.
For Career Design resources on how to best prepare for an interview, visit our Interview Preparation page and explore the types of interview questions.
Practice answering interview questions on Big Interview, a tool that allows you to record your interview answers. There are sections by industry, such as Government Interviews, in addition to many other industries. You will need to create an account using your myNortheastern log in.
You can also receive interview tips and practice mock interviews by making an in person or virtual appointment with a Career Advisor through myNortheastern or during Career Studio drop-in hours (no appointment needed).
- Ask to join the CAVS email list by contacting [email protected] “Like” our Facebook page, and request to join our LinkedIn group by searching for “Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers.”
- Read “Get Networking On It” by Andy McCarty (USAF)
- 85% of all jobs are filled through networking (LinkedIn.com). This means that passive candidates who only submit applications online are not utilizing the best and proven method for securing employment.
- Requests to connect with someone on LinkedIn should always be accompanied by a note. Tell the person who you are and why you hope to connect.
- Follow up. When you make a new connection, reach back out to cement the relationship. Connect on LinkedIn and/or send an email.
- Networking opportunities are all around us. They can range from more formal events to simply asking someone to grab coffee.
- Veterans tend to want to help other veterans. If you can identify a veteran employee at a company of interest, ask if you can pick their brain. How did they come to work for the company? What has their experience been working there? Have they been able to advance in their career, or are opportunities limited?
- Many companies have veteran Employee Resource Groups (ERG). Some are restricted to veterans/servicemembers only while others include civilian employees who support the military. Find out if a target company has one of these veteran ERGs. Employers sometimes use them to “vet” (no pun intended) prior-service applicants. They might help by passing your resume along to the right person. Within any luck, they might champion your candidacy.
Beyond searching and applying for jobs online, it is essential to build and leverage your network when exploring opportunities that may be the best fit for you and in searching for employment.
For resources on how to develop a network, conduct informational interviews, and leverage your contacts, view our Networking resources.
To assess company culture:
- Research the company and department you are most interested in working in by exploring their mission and values statement on their website.
- Look for non-discrimination and Equal Opportunity hiring policies in their job descriptions.
- Search for reviews of current and past employees on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Better Business Bureau, and other forms of Social Media.
- Ask questions to your network! Search for alumni and people in your network who have worked for the organization to ask them about the veteran-friendly work culture.
- Ask questions to the organization! Come prepared with questions to ask in an interview regarding their inclusion initiatives.
- Visit the Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers (CAVS) and Employer Engagement and Career Design to help you navigate organizational culture and fit.
FourBlock: Career readiness programming and resources for a new generation of veterans, including a nation-wide professional community.
Go Government: Online guide for people considering, applying for, and securing Federal employment.
USAJOBS: One-stop-shop for searching and applying for jobs in the Federal Government.
RECRUITMILITARY: Job search database connecting employers with high-quality veteran talent.
LinkedIn Learning: Thousands of professional development trainings at your fingertips, including building a LinkedIn profile and resume. Access this tool for free with your myNortheastern account.