By Jenny Hale, SFL-TAPJune 9, 2017
A resume is an employer's first impression of a job seeker. That's why it's important to make sure that what's on a resume doesn't make an employer second guess giving the job seeker a call back.
During the transition process from army active duty to life in the civilian sector, resume skills are crucial. However, being prepared for the job application process goes beyond having plenty of copies available to give to employers and physically applying to jobs. Below are five red flags that employers commonly see on resumes that can sometimes hurt the chances of getting a job.
-Having a resume that isn't tailored to the industry or job being applied to When a job seeker is applying to an open position, quality over quantity is key.
Sending a resume to hundreds of job openings is normally not the best strategy for securing employment. Employers are looking for resumes that are tailored to their industry or the specific type of position--often both.
Without copying and pasting the job description, it's a good practice to ensure that a job seeker's resume matches many of the daily responsibilities found in the job opening. In doing so, a hiring manager is more likely to see how the applicant would be a good fit for their team.
-Spelling and grammatical errors
The resume being submitted needs to be completely free of spelling and grammatical errors, as this is a reason for an employer to toss a resume into the trash before reading it further. Employers put a good amount of emphasis on attention to detail during the hiring process.
Have a family member or friend proofread the resume. For transitioning Soldiers, have a civilian with no military experience read the document to ensure that it is understandable. After it has been reviewed by multiple people, then it can be submitted.
-Gaps in employment
Resumes that have large gaps in employment may be a red flag to some employers. Having employment gaps could be more common for military spouses, who frequently move every few years. While gaps in employment are not the end of a job seeker's chances of getting hired, it is always a good idea to reduce the appearance of gaps by filling in any time unemployed with volunteer experience.
-Short periods of work experience
According to a Hiring Our Heroes November 2016 Veterans in the Workplace Study, 44 percent of veterans leave their first job after active duty within the first year. While it is common to change jobs after the transition process for other opportunities, remember that repeated instances can indicate to an employer that a job applicant may be looking to "job hop." Job hopping involves moving from company to company, often within short periods of time (a year or less).
Transitioning Soldiers are encouraged to find their future dream career and pursue their passions, but keep in mind that multiple jobs over the course of a couple years is a red flag to employers. New employees are expensive to train and onboard, so be prepared to elaborate on the reasons why a job applicant has short periods of employment during an interview. Companies are looking for individuals who are looking to stay for extended periods of time. To avoid this potential problem, job applicants must be self-aware of their interests and careful about which positions they are accepting.
-Acronyms or military terms
If a hiring manager can't understand a transitioning Soldier's resume, they are more likely to overlook it. Many titles, job descriptions and acronyms do not easily translate into civilian industries. Avoid the use of acronyms on a resume and translate military events, skills and job descriptions into comparable civilian experience for corporate positions.
However, if a transitioning Soldier is applying to a military-related industry or Department of Defense position, having military terms on a resume may be better understood. Some companies or industries are more familiar with military terms and may know what a "squad leader" and "platoon sergeant" means.
It is important to customize a resume to the industry and the target employer before using military jargon. Either way, a resume must clearly outline duties in an understandable way.
Transitioning Soldiers or spouses of transitioning Soldiers looking for assistance in preparing their resumes for civilian life can learn more information by attending the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program. SFL-TAP offers transition preparation and planning for all eligible Soldiers with at least 180 days of continuous active duty service. SFL-TAP services are open to Army retirees for life and to veterans for 180 days after their transition date.
Soldiers and their Family members need time to prepare for the job search. SFL-TAP recommends starting the program 18 months prior to transition or 24 months prior for retirees.
More information can be found at Caution-www.sfl-tap.army.mil or by reaching out to a local SFL-TAP Center. The program can also be found on Facebook (Soldier for Life--Transition Assistance Program), Twitter (@SFLTAP), and LinkedIn (Soldier for Life--Transition Assistance Program Connection Group).