“A resume is not designed to get you hired, it is designed to get your foot in an employer’s door for an interview,” said William McMillian, transition service manager for Fort Bragg’s Army Career and Alumni Program, also known as ACAP.
For servicemembers, beginning to create a resume, at first glance may seem intimidating staring at a blank, white page trying to sum up all their work experiences and skills they have gained while serving in the military. Not only do they have to translate military jargon into civilian terms, but they must also have an idea of what job or career they want to pursue once separating from the military.
Fortunately, the Fort Bragg ACAP Center provides numerous resources and workshops that offer a better perspective of the importance of resume writing skills as well as assistance in finalizing resumes.
Based on HQDA EXORD 054-12 that was signed on Dec. 29, 2011 and Master Policy Letter #33 signed by the XVIII Airborne Corps commander in February 2013, Soldiers on Fort Bragg must start ACAP no later than 12 months prior to their separation date.
“Coming through ACAP is mandatory,” said McMillian. “The resources they need are available here within the program. There are instructors available from the Department of Labor, ACAP counselors to assist with writing their final resumes and staff members from Veteran Affairs that provide a workshop to help them understand the benefits from the VA.”
By having an outline on paper before going to the first ACAP counseling, Soldiers will have a better idea of how they want their resume to look after talking with a counselor and attending a Transition Assistance Program workshop.
“For a person that’s applying for a job, the length of the resume should not exceed a page and a half, in some cases a page long”, McMillian said. “There are many different types of resumes out there, but the three most common formats are the chronological, the functional and the combination resume.”
The chronological resume lists previous jobs or assignments in reverse chronological order (most recent job first). Its primary objective is to access the next higher rung on the career ladder.
If a Soldier is considering changing careers, their experiences might not line up so neatly and a chronological resume might not be the most effective way to present your professional growth.
A functional resume is a good format to use if a Soldier is considering changing careers. Although they may not have an employment history in the field in which they are seeking a new job, Soldiers presumably have relevant skills they have acquired through other experiences including military occupation specialty, on-the-job training and skill identifiers.
The potential down side of a functional resume is that it does not provide for a chronological military history. This may arouse the suspicions of the person reviewing the resume who will want to know something about a Soldier’s employment history.
A combination resume is a mixture of a functional resume and a chronological resume. It allows a Soldier to stress the various skills he or she has attained through hands-on experience, but still provides for their military record.
“The workshop and counselors are here to slow you down and help you do it the right way,” said McMillian, “Take advantage of the ACAP before getting out,” he advised.
“As you think about what you want to do, think about what image you wish to project and how your experiences and talents relate to your current aspirations,” said Mitchell Lee, transition services coordinator for the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Plans Directorate (G3). “Your own situation will shape what information you include and what format you choose to use to build your resume.”
For more information, contact the Fort Bragg ACAP Center at 396-7188, 396-8169 or the 82nd Airborne Division ACAP Center at 432-0842 or 432-0279.