Top Tips for Transitioning Military from Hawaii Transition Summit 2016

Schofield Barracks, October 16, 2016

October 27, 2016

Resume Place, inc. online forum and message board for discussion of issues in the field of resume writing, career development and federal employment.

Kathryn Troutman, known as the Federal Resume Guru, was prepared for a large auditorium presentation of Ten Steps to a Federal Job® on Monday October 16th. The Nehelani Convention Center was filled, and the transitioning veterans were very interested in the Ten Steps to one of the best careers in America—a Civil Service Career.

The Top Tips that Kathryn shared and the transitioning veterans heard include:

Start 120 days ahead of transitioning out of the military

Start your federal job search 120 days out from your terminal leave or separation / retirement. In order to apply for federal positions before you have a DD 214, get a Statement of Separation from your Executive Officer. This will state the date you will be available for employment in the government. Many military personnel in the class were 5 days, 6 months, 18 months away from separation, but they were all interested in the steps to a federal job after their military career.

Use the USAJOBS Builder

Use the USAJOBS builder, instead of the Resume Upload feature in USAJOBS. This will save a lot of problems for yourself and for the Human Resources reviewers. The builder will steer you through WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED in the federal resume. Often transitioning military will upload their two-page private sector resume into the USAJOBS document section. This can result in ineligibility due to the lack of specific information needed by federal HR, such as month and years of employment (back at least ten years); supervisor’s names and phones; street addresses, cities, states, zip codes and country.  This info must be in a federal resume, but not necessarily your private sector resume.

Don’t use your two-page private sector resume

Don’t use the two-page resume that you wrote for private sector and maybe for your GPS TAP program. That resume is too short. The average private sector resume is 2 pages. The average federal resume is 3 to 5 pages in length. Your current position in the military should be ONE PAGE IN LENGTH. This will be your most important position on the resume. The HR specialist will review those duties and responsibilities carefully against the job announcement.

Write a three- to five-page narrative resume

Write a narrative resume format. Kathryn Troutman recommends her “Outline Format”, which consists of small paragraphs (5 to 10 lines long), narrative statements, including a headline of 3 to 7 ALL CAP KEYWORDS. These keywords match the specialized experience and KSAs in the job announcement. And the HR specialists can see the match between the resume and the announcement in seconds. The narrative writing style provides more details about a skill set for the HR specialist and the manager.

Staying in the same career?

If you are staying your same career field from military to private sector, refer to You can type in your service, rank and MOC, and this system will take you in seconds to REAL, live USAJOBS federal positions that will match your MOC. You can even organize results by salary / grade level and geographic location. This is very fast and efficient.

Changing career direction?

If you are a military transitioning member who wants to change your career from military MOC to a different civilian career, then you will need to go to school to build a new set of skills and knowledge and/or translate your military experience in to the transferrable skills needed for the new career. Don’t go into details in your past military experience that will not be RECENT AND RELEVANT FOR THE HR REVIEWER. In the Jobseeker’s Guide 7th Edition, the textbook for Ten Steps to a Federal Job®, author Kathryn Troutman two samples of career change military federal resume in the Outline Format with narrative writing style and ALL CAP KEYWORDS.  Both resumes are from successful federal jobseekers transitioning from the military.

Add accomplishments

Add accomplishments to your resume. There is nothing worse than a BORING RESUME. If your resume is written just about your duties and responsibilities, and you do not add any accomplishments to the resume, it will be boring and feature only the basics of your job duties. This will not be enough to get best qualified, referred to a supervisor, and offered an interview. You MUST think about the extra added value that you brought to your military service. You must learn to brag about your strengths and achievements to get referred and interviewed.  The HR reviewers are looking for outstanding candidates to forward to a supervisor. The supervisory may receive 10 to 15 resumes on their desk. You want to be on the desk of a supervisor!

Begin your federal job search early

Do not wait until you walk out the door with your DD 214. You can start 120 days ahead of your transitioning date. Use this valuable time to study jobs, agencies, and missions. Work on your resume. Set up your UAJOBS account. Upload required documents. And set up Saved Searches and Saved Jobs. The federal job search—based on the Ten Steps to a Federal Job®—will take three to six months if you are determined and persevering and think ahead.

Get help!

Don’t try to guess how to navigate USAJOBS and write a federal resume. Get a copy of Kathryn Troutman’s Jobseeker’s Guide 7th Edition for samples of good, competitive federal resume samples.  You can attend a Ten Steps to a Federal Job class at most military bases in the Employment Readiness offices. There are Certified Federal Job Search Trainers and Certified Federal Career Coaches at most military service transition offices.

Kathryn Kraemer Troutman is the founder and president of The Resume Place, Inc., a service business located in Baltimore, MD, specializing in writing and designing professional federal and private-sector resumes, as well as coaching and education in the federal hiring process. For the past 30 years, Troutman has managed her Professional Writing and Consulting Practice, Publishing and Federal Career Training business, and with her team of 20 Certified Federal Resume Writers, The Resume Place advises and writes more than 300 federal resumes per month for military, private industry and federal clients world-wide.

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