Bullet-Proof Your Defense Industry Resume

Career Advice

You’re a defense industry professional, so you want to bullet-proof your resume, right? Unfortunately, just a few careless mistakes or overlooked details can be the difference in hitting the target or not even making the mark. Follow these tips to make sure your defense industry resume, is locked, loaded, and ready to impress.

  1. Create a title better than “John Smith’s Resume.”

    Include skills and highlight certifications right in the title. Instead of John Smith how about “CISSP Certified VDI Specialist.” Sounds much better.

  2. Show hiring managers the money.

    And we’re not talking about bribes. If you have saved other companies you’ve worked for big bucks by implementing cost-cutting solutions, say so, and include actual figures. If you’ve managed large dollar accounts, include that, as well. Dollar signs catch attention, so include them.

  3. Use keywords search position descriptions.

    When you start to see the common trends in wording, include those keywords in your resume as appropriate. Avoid acronyms in general, but don’t avoid military-or defense specific terminology. If those are the kinds of positions you’re looking for, you’ll want to include those terms.

  4. Remember rules are made to be broken.

    If you’ve been job searching awhile you’ve likely heard more than your share of tips and tricks. Keep in mind that your resume is still all about highlighting your skills. So if you’re a veteran with 20 years in the military, you probably can’t translate all of that into a one-page resume. Don’t try. Do what works for you and don’t feel enslaved by advice.

  5. Express yourself but be cautious about being cutesy.

    If you’re changing careers and moving into design, public relations or sales, you can likely get by with more creative resume design. If you’re looking to stay in the military or defense industry, you should probably stick with bold headings, assertive language, and a clean-cut resume style.

  6. One of my personal resume pet peeves is passive language.

    If you want your resume to sink to the bottom of the pile, feel free to use general, passive words. If you want to rise to the top, use vivid imagery and be specific. Bad: Oversaw new LSS assignment in office. Better: Managed enterprise-level program saving $200,000 annually in duplicate cost and increasingly overall office and employee efficiency. This is especially important for military and defense industry professionals. Many veterans are used to a culture of teamwork and not accepting credit – the selfless servant. Throw that notion away when you write your resume and have one of your biggest fans (a spouse, coworker or even your kid) proofread your resume to make sure you’re giving yourself your full-due.

  7. Include your military service…

    …and highest rank achieved, and any veteran’s preference or disability numbers. And be specific about the “points” you have – some positions need to hire a candidate with a specific point preference.

  8. Include relevant overseas experience, even if it was brief.

    This is particularly important if you’re applying for overseas contracting positions. If you spent two weeks in a training program in Kuwait and the other candidate has never been to the region, guess whose resume rises to the top?

Filling out a resume for the defense industry or intelligence community can seem like a challenge. Industries that pride themselves on being a bit obtuse (and often have good reason to do so) can be a hard nut to crack for anyone – including veterans or those who have already spent some time in the field. Just remember to do your homework, use your network, and spend a lot of time crafting the right resume. You’ll have a great defense industry job before you know it.

View our military resume templates database.

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.

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