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Resume challenges facing the military spouse

Article by Stacy Swearengen, The Portable Career Planner

When you want to make a great first impression, what do you tend to do? I will venture to guess you probably spend a little extra time preparing for the initial meeting. In a tough job market, your resume must make the same stellar impression you would if you were standing in front of the recipient reading the content. This means that your resume must also be primped and polished for every first impression just like you do for yourself before any important face-to-face first encounter.

The resume is ultimately a paper version of you. It must demonstrate your qualifications, experience and personality just like your style and professional demeanor do. This fact makes it vitally important to ensure your resume is doing its job of demonstrating what you bring to the workforce.

I have to caution that it is never wise to make changes to your resume simply for the sake of making changes! Doing so would be a lot like wearing pajamas on a first meeting with someone because you wanted to change things up. The revisions you make must add value—not detract or distract from your strengths. In order to make the appropriate revisions for your specific resume, you have to take the time to first identify what needs improving.

If you are not sure how to determine what needs editing, consider some of the common issues military spouse resumes include, such as lapses in employment due to relocation and lack of job progression. Job-hopping, extended breaks in employment and limited professional growth are undesirable on any resume, and the very nature of the military lifestyle gives way to such issues.

Of course, there are also resume issues that are common to all job seekers. These problems include, but are not limited to, spelling errors, formatting problems and generic content. Should none of these areas for improvement apply to your resume, take some time to ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you were in the manager’s shoes, would you hire you based on your resume?
  • What do you wish your resume looked like? How does it differ from where it is now?
  • Are you adequately articulating how each experience prepared you for the job you are currently applying for?
  • Are you using tangible, quantifiable numbers to express your experience level?
  • Are jobs with short durations the result of military relocation or a lack of commitment?
  • What do you want this resume to say about you? What is it saying now?

By starting with these questions, you will likely start to see areas that could use a makeover. You may even find that your resume is looking pretty good already and needs just a few minor tweaks!

Stacy Swearengen is The Portable Career Planner. A Certified Career, Education and Adult Learning Coach, and spouse of an active duty soldier, provides military wives with career and education counseling that is tailored to meet the demands of the military lifestyle. Offering a complete range of career counseling services, including resume critiques, mock interviews, job search resources, college decision-making strategies and guidance on using military spouse benefits, Stacy provides telephone coaching to spouses across the world.

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