By Bryan Tharpe, Soldier for Life Transition Assistance ProgramNovember 28, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 28, 2014) -- The success of a resume is measured by getting an interview. The success of an interview is measured by receiving a job offer. But, in either case, whether the resume gets you in for an interview or whether going through an interview gets you a job offer often depends on the little things.
What do employers look for in a resume? What little things can you do to make yours successful?
Of course, all resumes need to have the information the employers need to determine whether you have the qualifications they need in an employee. Employers expect to see information about your educational level, other training you have received and information about your experience.
Most employers want to know where you got your experience and job titles. That means that they prefer either a chronological or combination resume, so they can see organizations that you have worked for and how much experience you have based on the dates you worked in each organization. They want to know that you can do the things that they require, so the write ups in the experience section are extremely important.
Other than these requirements, success is often in the little things. For example, you don't want your resume to look hard to read.
What can you do to ensure the employer reads it? The most important thing is to keep it as short as possible considering the amount of experience you have. Most employers prefer that it be one page, but 1 ? pages is usually acceptable. There are ways to make resumes fit on the page, and Soldier for Life, formerly known as the Army Career and Alumni Program, counselors can show you how to make that happen. They can also help you figure out what is important to include and what can be left out of the resume.
Leaving "white space" can make the resume more readable. If possible, leave 1-inch margins all around and double space between sections on the resume. Font size is also important -- we recommend 12 pitch, when possible.
Many employers wear glasses (or need to) and if the font is too small, it might get eliminated.
It is extremely important to civilianize the resume and use the language that the employer would use. Most of them don't understand military job titles and acronyms, so you must translate your military jargon into terminology that the employer will understand. SFL counselors are very familiar with civilian equivalents of military titles, acronyms and terminology, and will help you make the translation.
As for interviewing, one should always remember that old saying: "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression." Personal appearance is very important. If you care about yourself, the employer knows that you will pay attention to what you do at work.
You should always dress appropriately and pay close attention to little details, such as haircuts, fingernails and personal hygiene. Applicants should not wear strong perfume or aftershave, and if they smoke, they should make sure that their clothing doesn't smell like smoke.
Remember to smile when you greet any employee at the company. You never know when the receptionist or others you meet have input into hiring decisions. When you meet the interviewer, give a firm handshake.
Many hiring decisions are made on the basis of chemistry, so you want everyone there to know how happy you would be to work there and how easy to get along with you are. Smiles and pleasant greetings are the best way to accomplish this.
Be sure to show interest in the company. Ask questions of the interviewer about the company, and its plans and goals. However, do your homework first -- don't ask questions to which you should know the answer.
Don't be negative. Don't say negative things about your present job or boss, even if asked why you are leaving the company. Always figure out positive ways to express yourself.
Sometimes interviewers ask questions that call for negative answers, such as, "What are your weaknesses?" Be careful how you answer these questions, and try to turn them into something positive. You might say, "Although I have never worked with the computer program you use, I have used other spreadsheet and database programs, and I have always picked up software quickly. I know I could do the same thing with your program."
Leaving is as important as arriving. Hopefully, by the time the interview is over, you have established a good rapport, so always end the interview by telling the interviewer how much you have enjoyed meeting him and any others involved, how impressed you are by what you have learned about the company and how much you would enjoy working for the company.
After you leave the interview, remember to send a thank you letter. Most applicants don't do this, so the letter will set you apart from the others interviewed and take your name right to the top of the list.
All these little things can make a big difference in your job search.
If you have questions or need assistance with resume writing, interviewing or any other job search questions, your friendly SFL counselors would love to help you. Call the Fort Rucker SFL Center at 255-2558.