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Common Defence-to Civilian Resume Blunders and How to Avoid Them

When developing your resume ready for civilian employers it is easy to fall into some simple traps that can cost you potential opportunities.  These are the easiest and most common mistakes that could cause resume rejection –

 1.  Launching into writing the resume without adequate research. Before you can sell yourself to a potential employer you need to know three things – what you want, what they need, and what you offer.  Without this knowledge your resume will lack substance and focus.  Find the answer to these questions before you lift your pen then use this information to build a compelling case for your alignment with the role.

 2.  Hiding Your Defence Background rather than Demystifying It. Many well-intentioned people will tell you to hide your Defence background as some employers may not understand Defence careers but ADF experience and training is second to none! Instead of hiding it demystify it! Translate your skills and experience into terminology employers can understand. Put the emphasis on transferable skills and phrase your achievements in common commercial wording that will engage your reader.

 3.  A Lack of Substance.   A good resume doesn’t tell an employer just what you did, but also includes more importantly how well you did it. Make sure to take the time to write and hone examples of the value you brought in each role.   Look for opportunities to show employers the value of your skills.  If you managed teams, don’t just tell them that but instead showcase how and where you were able to improve productivity or performance. If you moved materials and stores, showcase how you consistently delivered them on-time despite tough, uncompromising timeframes and rapidly shifting delivery parameters. Remember results talk!

 4. Too many (or any) Acronyms and Defence Terminology.  Next to IT resumes, ADF resumes are the second most likely to be filled with acronyms normal people won’t understand. If it won’t make sense to your mother or non-Defence friends then don’t include it.  Recruiters will not usually be an expert in your area so keep your resume simple so anyone who reads it can understand the context.    

 5.  Developing a resume only a human will love. Today resumes are read by computers just as often as humans so it’s important that your resume is scanner-friendly.  In the machine world – simple is good. Avoid graphics or shading, use common fonts in 10-12 point sizing, keep your resume in a Word format and remember to include the keywords relevant to the industry you are applying to.

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