How do you get 20 years of military experience down to two pages?
If there is one question that comes up more than any other from my military friends and networks, it is “How exactly do you condense 20 years of military experience into a resume that doesn’t resemble an encyclopedia?”
Veterans have a lot of training, experience & qualifications that need to be condensed into a short two-page resume that is typical of today’s standards.
Something that most of us in the military experience that is not as common in the civilian sector are collateral duties. In addition to our “day job”, we were required to be experienced, trained and qualified in a variety of other tasks. Using myself as an example, I was an Electronics Technician in the Navy responsible for the repair and maintenance of communication electronic equipment. In the last two years of my enlistment alone, I had a list of collateral duties including being a CPR & First Aid Instructor, Safety & OSHA Coordinator, HAZMAT Coordinator, Physical Readiness Coordinator and Color Guard leader, just to name a few. These duties contributed to a skillset that went far beyond that of a technician focusing on electronics. If these skills and responsibilities can be earned in just two years, imagine someone who has served 20 years or more.
Another factor to consider with a long military career is the perception of job hopping. In a little over four years I was stationed at 8 different commands, which if listed out, would look like I changed jobs every three to eight months over the course of four and a half years. Since the average recruiter spends no more than 30 seconds initially scanning a resume, having a resume that optically portrays a job hopper is a hug mistake which can lead to many missed opportunities. It’s best to list the branch of service in which you’ve served, and list the years of your entire military career. The rest can be broken up under the main headers.
So how do you best consolidate 20 years of experience into two pages? By using a targeted approach and incorporating competencies into your resume.
Focus on the job sector that you want to jump into, look at all the key works in job descriptions & job postings. Dig out your military command & training records, and analyze the skillsets you’ve gained over the years and how you can summarize and target them towards your next dream job.
A great place to start is looking at your DD214. If this document can list out your entire career in one page, it should help you get a head start into documenting your career into a two-page resume.