A first step for anyone planning on a career after the military is creating a master resume
I was talking to the commander of a Warrior Transition Battalion recently about the transition to the civilian workforce, and he said something very simple and easy to forget: “What would help is to lay out the first step needed to get a soldier moving down the path they choose.”
As someone who’s reviewed a lot of veteran resumes, I too quite often skip over that first step in talking with them. But I always end up coming back to it after I’ve peppered them with a few questions. This first step really is the basis for your application for any position and career move.
What is that first step? Creating a master resume with everything you’ve ever done.
How a Master Resume Works (and How to Build Yours)
A master resume is something you will never submit for a position; it will be far longer than you ever thought and it will constantly get updated. Think of it as a professional diary of your experiences.
On your master resume, you will list everything you’ve done for work or in a volunteer role, and it will be the guide off of which every tailored resume will be built.
Some things to remember when building your master resume:
- Walk through your life year by year and list every job and volunteer activity you did chronologically. Don’t worry about filling out the details at first — you’re building the frame. Then, once your frame is complete, start listing out duties and accomplishments for each job.
- Talk with coworkers about some of the things they remember as part of the job. In talking with those you worked with on a daily basis, you’ll remember things you often forget when sitting in front of a computer.
- Look at the award write-ups you received and the course outlines of the schools you attended for things to add. Quite often there are things we did on a regular basis in the military that we don’t even consider for inclusion on a resume. Awards and course outlines can trigger the memories.
- List all of your volunteer work, even if it was for a weekend event or something that may not be in your wheelhouse for your current career track. You never know when a skill or experience may come into play in a job you’re exploring. Even assisting with your son’s Cub Scout outings took some coordination skills.
- Think hard about what your military role was, beyond the title. We all know there are skills needed in many roles that are not immediately associated with the job title. Think infantry — project and personnel management play a huge part in the day-to-day, but no one associates those skills with the lowly grunt (a shoutout to all my brothers with blue cords).
- Once you get a great position, continue to update your master resume with your recent accomplishments and duties. It’s easy to forget some of the things you’ve done, and updating along the way will save you time and frustration when circumstances require you find something new.
As I said, you’ll never submit your master resume for any job listing, but it creates your own cheat sheet for tailoring future resumes for specific opportunities. After you build it, the cut-and-paste function of your word processor become the toughest part of any application.
So carry on and move forward with that first step!
*This article was originally published on Every Veteran Hired.
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