S.M.A.R.T. résumé for transitioning out of the military

By Osa Eliaiho, community readiness consultant
802 Force Support Squadron

Transitioning out of the military is a scary period in a servicemember’s life, and no rank or condition of separation is insulated from the stress or frustration that comes with such a drastic change. For those who seek to find work outside of the military, successful job searching helps to reinforce feelings of self-importance and confidence. One of the tools critical for promoting oneself and to guarantee a successful transition is a résumé. A résumé, when properly written, should provide a lasting impression because of three key reasons:

1. It highlights your unique skills for a position by establishing your expertise and makes you memorable
2. It demonstrates maximum impact for everything you touch with minimum investment of time and money
3. It promotes your ability to communicate with confidence

A résumé that highlights unique skills is usually not designed to reach a broader audience. In order to focus your résumé on your appropriate audience (often the company or types of companies you are seeking employment with) you can use SMART statements. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, adaptable, realistic and timely. This helps you understand what the employer is looking for, in turn helping you tailor your résumé to their business principles. SMART résumés are targeted, and they highlight individual skills to specific employer requirements. Employers also avoid tedious essays, confusing employment history and unnecessary hype within résumés. Avoid these types of statements.
Interview process
The SMART résumé is a measurable document. It integrates key accomplishments into credentials and allows an individual to proudly demonstrate how many transferable skills he or she has which will benefit the employer. Every position clearly outlines prerequisites required for the job. If an applicant is lacking in any way, it means the position may not be suitable. The application and selection process is very cumbersome and applicants should apply to positions that are supported by their credible knowledge, skills and abilities. In other words, no fudging your skills. Either you know how to do something or you don’t.

Another major focus for using the SMART résumé is performing timely position research. Network as much as possible. Complete and submit application packages and follow up with hiring officials. These steps are crucial and will impact your job search outcomes. Résumés are living documents. They are never perfect and are subject to change. The only good or effective résumé is one that gets you an interview or gets you hired. The fact that it worked for one position in one company does not guarantee it will work again even for the same position in another. You see, there is no one correct method, style or format to accomplish a résumé. It’s important that your résumé helps you express your uniqueness by:

(a) Linking your qualifications, talents and objectives to the needs and mind of the prospective employer.

(b) Focusing and presenting only information that are most relevant to the position. Use as much of the language or keywords in the solicitation announcement with as little variation as possible.

(c) Always presenting your highest level of competence, never communicating any limitations and only emphasizing strengths.

(d) Promoting yourself as a lifelong learner ready to run with big ideas to accelerate the companies’ success.

Finally, a résumé to a private sector job should not be more than two pages long. Ideally, one page allows you to focus on the position requirements. If you are an executive in transition and seeking opportunities in academic and medical professional areas, consider using a curricula vitae, which is a summary of one’s education, professional history and job qualifications. This format can result in multiple pages depending on certifications, training and education.

PHOTO: Tech. Sgt. Laurie Lykken, executive assistant for Air Force Space Command vice commander, has a mock interview with Dave Williams, of Aeroflex, April 14, 2010, on Peterson Air Force Base. Sergeant Lykken, who is separating from the Air Force after 12 years of service, attended a five-day Transition Assistance Program at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. TAP is designed to prepare military personnel to transition into the civilian workforce. The workshop is held once a month and brings in industry experts, human resource directors, image consultants and employment experts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

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S.M.A.R.T. résumé for transitioning out of the military