- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: Seven resume mistakes

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article sponsored by Epes Transport

Return to May/June 2013 Issue


military spouse resume

As a military spouse, you understand that finding a new job can be a job all by itself. Whether you are PCSing to a new duty station, or transitioning away from military life altogether, it can be hard to land a good job.

A well-written military spouse resume can help you navigate through the trying times. When developing your resume, avoid these seven mistakes at all costs.

#1. Overstate reality.

You exaggerate your credentials, employment dates, former job titles or technical skills on your resume. Everyone does it, right?

No, they don’t and you shouldn’t either. If you don’t like the way your resume reads, revise it. Use the services of your transition assistance office to help you if you’re in the process of leaving the military behind, or the military family center if you’re not. Or, use a professional resume writing service such as which has a special companion service for military spouses.

#2. Assume employers will readily understand what you did in a past job by virtue of only your job title.

Assumptions, as you know, aren’t a good thing. Employers can’t always read between the lines. You have to spell it out for them on your resume. Job titles and job descriptions don’t always match. Don’t expect the HR specialist to be a mind reader. Help them to help you get that job.

#3. Make no effort to significantly update your resume.

Let’s be honest, no one really likes to revise his or her resume. It’s a dirty job, but you’ve got to do it. More than that, you’ve got to do it every time you apply for a job and you have to do it thoughtfully. Make the effort to ensure that every line on your military spouse resume supports your objective - getting the job you want - and you will be that much closer to landing an interview.

#4. Fail to address gaps in employment.

The real hallmark of many military spouse resumes is gaps in the employment history. You can’t always avoid them, but you can certainly minimize them. Instead of highlighting your work history with a chronological resume, opt for a combination format that markets your skills and abilities upfront.

#5. Undersell your skills.

Writing about your accomplishments can be awkward. We don’t always like to toot our own horns, but it’s necessary for your resume. Plug in numbers wherever you can and fully communicate the scope of your responsibilities. Don’t just jot down a generic job description. Wherever you were able to make a quantifiable improvement in or savings for the business, be sure and list it. Focus on what you did in that job to make it your own.

#6. Think your resume is written for you.

You may be the subject of your resume, but it is not written for you. It is written for a potential employer in support of a specific job in the hopes that the person making the hiring decision will be impressed enough to actually contact you for a job interview. It only seems like it’s all about you. Make sure you look at the job skills noted in the job post, and do your best to make sure you’ve communicated your fit for those skills in your resume.

#7. Send out your resume and then wait around.

You go through the drill of crafting, revising, targeting and sending out your resume to the world at large. And, then you wait. Did you know that your competition is doing everything to get in front of the hiring manager? If you want the job, do your best to find someone who can get you noticed - a friend, a friend’s friend - someone with a connection to the company that can put your resume at the top of the pile.

Don’t wait. Keep searching for new opportunities and continue that arduous process of crafting, revising, targeting and sending out your resume. Follow up on resumes you’ve sent out, network whenever possible and don’t give up.


Janet Farley is the author of “The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Jobs for Mobile Lifestyles”.

Return to May/June 2013 Issue