You made a decision – one you’re still apprehensive about.  You decide to build an online “profile.”  You are aware that a lot of things, unsurprisingly, happen on the internet, including searching for and getting work.  As a transitioning veteran, this is likely one of the biggest changes from when you entered the military.  AOL, Geocities, and AIM were likely the tools of the day back then—and you certainly didn’t need to use them to work in the military.  Now that you’re out, you want to work, and you have decided that establishing an online profile will help you achieve that goal.

Networking – for those ‘off the grid’

Going online and establishing a profile is almost antithetical to what you’re used to, because in the military you were taught to keep a low profile.  You were serving your country, and being humble while serving was part of the gig.  It was also a good general security practice.  This attitude, while admirable, will hurt you if you’re trying to get work after the military. When you begin building your profile, start with the writing basics.  How is your writing?  You spent a lot of years serving in some of the world’s largest fighting bureaucracies.  You may have learned some (ahem) **interesting** English language habits along the way.  Each military branch has a particular way of communicating, in spite of publishing and disseminating helpful guides like the “Tongue and Quill.”

Mind your style – active language rules

Stop being unintelligible–find your writing style again.  How often did you really write in the military?  When you did write, do you remember the styles, the re-writes, the very passive speech?  Yes, sure, you helped your boss write your Officer/Enlisted Performance Review every year.  If you were in a leadership position at some point, you may have had the opportunity to help others write their reviews.  But you used a different rule set and writing style, one to help highlight the individual’s performance, in speech unintelligible in the civilian world. You will need to translate and sharpen that review language – not copy and paste it into your resume.

Obey basic grammar rules

Really watch your spelling.  Yes, that’s right—spelling (or typos, if you prefer).  I don’t know about you, but I tend to type so quickly, that I occasionally **think** I’ve typed a word when I actually haven’t.  I may have typed part of a word, not completed a tense, or typed part of a word as a part of the next word.  Maybe you’re a better typist, but how long does it take to double-check the resume for spelling errors?  Use the spell-checker provided in your word processor, but also go over the document with your own eyes, THEN have someone else look at it. If you have a tendency to mix tenses, make sure you don’t on your resume and profile.  Tenses are just one of the many traps a person can fall into.  Focus on the basics of your sentences—don’t try to get fancy.  The message is more important than the means.  If you are unsure about the rules of grammar, there are many, many sites on the internet made to help a person just like you.

Be Consistent

Maintain consistency.  If your bullets aren’t punctuated at the beginning, then there shouldn’t be any other punctuated bullets throughout the document.  Keep the fonts uncomplicated, using something like Arial or Calibri.  Keep the fonts big enough to read without developing headaches.  Keep the fonts the same color throughout the document and profile.  Evenly spacing the fonts and lines will keep human resource recruiters from going cross-eyed and putting it in the “maybe later?” file.  Just like grammar, structure, and spelling, don’t let your font selection get in the way of your message. Structure, whether for your resume, or your profile, should be consistent.  Margins shouldn’t be microscopic.  Bullets, sub-bullets, paragraphs, etc.–you must decide what kind of resume structure will keep a recruiter’s eye moving toward the next line.  Get them hooked.  But don’t overwhelm them.

The great page debate

Resume/profile length seems to always bring on debate.  There are companies who like very short resumes.  There are other organizations, like the Federal Government and some European agencies, who like very long resumes.  There are other resume approaches, too:  some are more narrative—others are skills-based.  But ultimately, you should decide how long your resume and profile need to be.  Researching the company you’re aiming for might help you in this decision. It’s another key reason why your resume needs to be tailored for each position. For your online profile, pick the resume style that seems most required/requested for your skill-set and industry.

Hopefully I’m not telling you anything new, and hopefully, your basic writing Kung-Fu is strong. But if you’ve made the step of creating an online profile (good), you’ll need to start with a strong foundation – your resume. Then we can move on to message. Check back for more on that, in this continued series on building your post-military online presence.

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John Holst’s career path is as nonsensical and mad as the March Hare. In a series of what John thought were very trusting decisions, the United States Air Force let him babysit nuclear weapons, develop future officers, and then operate multi-billion dollar space systems. Then John re-enacted scenes from “Brazil” by joining the Missile Defense Agency, working as minutes-taker, configuration, project, mission, and test manager. When he’s not writing for, he is putting his journalism degree skills to use as The Mad Spaceball.