Defense Industry Resumes - aka by
Recommended Resume Style - Defense Industry

The resume format presented below provides the basis for a good solid resume. There can be other variations, but you should aim your resume (within the defense and intelligence industries) towards both the human and non-human reader.

Resumes are seldom read by human resource managers or recruiters unless they become interested in actually interviewing you. Your resume lives or dies normally by the content on the top half of the first page. The human reviewer is often LESS important than the non-human reader:  resumes scanned into computer databases. A reviewer that ignores your resume at a career fair will still probably send your resume to the human resources department for scanning and inclusion into a database.

The great majority of resumes, whether collected at a career fair or received via mail, end up in one of two places: a database of scanned resumes or the round file. A great resume by a fantastic candidate can also end up in the round file if fancy colored paper, columns of data, and styled bullets are used. Simple rules the day. Simple is easier to read. Simple is easier to scan into a database. Simple causes fewer problems for web databases. Simple could get you your next job.

Simple means:

  • Align your resume left - whether it be titles, bullets or content.

  • Use common fonts and sizes - at least 10 point and Times New Roman or Arial (or almost anything that looks like them).

  • Use standard round bullets - using arrows and angel heads and diamond shapes as bullets confuse scanning software. No one wants to rewrite your resume for you.

  • Avoid colored paper - slate gray or medium blue papers affect font interpretation. White standard bond paper is best.

  • No columnar data! Listing your skills in a three column table saves real estate on paper and is concise to look at, but this format is not scanner friendly.

  • Use the simple version for web forms - styled bullets and columnar data definitely present a challenge for online databases.
  • Suggestion: Attractive resumes can indeed bring you attention. Carry copies of a simple resume with you. When presenting your resume ask if the recruiter will later scan your resume. If the answer is yes then exchange your attractive resume for the simple one. You'll make a friend and look smart, too.

    Some things not to put in your resume:

  • No Social Security Numbers or personal identification numbers.

  • Skip job titles including military rank and military occupation codes. These are meaningless even to most defense contractors although there is an appropriate time to have such a resume. Translate job titles - this will take work and several iterations to be both meaningful and relevant to the original position name.

  • Save proclaiming love of mom, apple pie, and country for another time. Include a concise, meaningful objective statement that clearly defines your career interest. If you have no experience and are looking for an entry level position then state so.
    Example: Seeking entry level position within the field of ....
    Example: Seeking mid-level avionics maintenance position - management or senior tech.
    Example: Seeking senior level competitive intelligence analyst position re telecommunications trends in east Asia (or military forces, or organizational effectiveness in mid-sized companies, or banking, or ...).

  • Do not assume that your leadership qualities will shine through or be meaningful. Many former military offer the assumption that they are leaders in their field but often fail to provide evidence. Senior rank is not evidence. The defense industry builds, buys and sells stuff. Intelligence (government or private sector) hires knowledge specialists. Only "leaders" with current and thick rolodexes migrate to industry without clearly defining their credentials. Membership on various staffs, attendence at X number of schools, and being a designated project manager is important but not necessarily sufficient evidence.

  • Avoid political identification unless seeking a political activist position.
  • The format below is not appropriate for all career fields and industries, but it should serve you well within the defense and intelligence communities.


    Simplified Chronologic Resume Example  

    Mail Address
    Email address (No email? Get free email from Yahoo, GMail, Netscape or Hotmail.)
    Telephone and Fax number

    Security Clearance: TS/SCI, Counterintelligence Polygraph

         Comments: This is also a good place for certifications or background investigation designators like ISSA, CISSP, EBI, SSBI, etc. and whether you have been polygraphed (indicate type: full-scope poly, aka life-style poly, or counter-intelligence poly). No need for explaining a clearance's update history. If the clearance currency is dated it still may be in your favor to indicate the fact that you had a clearance within the last 10 years.

       Example: Top Secret/SCI, last active 1996. Do not indicate any special compartmented caveat (such as B / G / TK, etc.) that may be attached to the core designator. Use of these designators may be appropriate but it freaks out the security folks. A good recruiter will know that TS/SCI and SSBI folks seldom exist without additional caveats and will ask appropriate questions.

       Example designators: S or Secret, TS or Top Secret, TS/SCI, TS/SBI, TS/EBI, ISSA, CISSP, EBI -- use others at your own discretion.)

       Security Clearance Holders: If you have an indepth professional history of doing 'stuff' in the service of your country then a chronological resume can work against you in many ways. Your best choice of resume styles is to develop a CV Resume, formally known as a Curriculum Vitae resume.

       Security reviewers often butcher chronological resumes and leave them meaningless, offering little assistance otherwise in helping you transition your knowledge of 'stuff' to the marketplace. Many of the security edits are due to association of training and specific knowledge to particular periods of place and time. A CV neutralizes most of these concerns and produces a far superior resume in this circumstance; focusing on skills and accomplishments and not the cross references of how, when and why you came to know certain things.

    Info about building CVs is commonly available on the Internet. CVs are popular among academics because they emphasize your knowledge and its professional application.

    Objective: Seeking a position in ... (optional section)

         Comments: Be clear, concise and specific. If you can't develop such an objective then leave it out completely.

    Availability Date: Immediate, willing to relocate.

         Comments: Give either a date or indicate whether your availability is 'immediate' or 'now'. Do not indicate a date that is more than 30 days in the past. Some recruiters are strongly biased against candidates that are not immediately snapped up. It is ok to indicate that you are available as much as 6 months in the future - just don't expect a lot of phone calls until you are within 30-60 days of being available. If you are willing to relocate then state as much. If unsure, or unwilling, then say nothing.

    Certifications: MCSE; Novell Engineer; Senior Electrician; 98C (optional section)

         Comments: Identify certifications, do not explain them. Military occupational speciality codes are appropriate in this space.

    Demonstrations of Expertise: (optional section)
    - 1999 promoted to Senior Corporate Trainer position.
         -- managed $1.7 million annual budget and 15 member staff.
    - 1998 selected as Most Valuable Securities Analyst.
         -- moved assets into more stable funds 2 months before market crash.
         -- provided Senior Consultant services at request of major customer.
    - 1997 advance promotion ahead of peers.
         -- selected by Army (or whomever) as 'Top 5%" in field, given choice of assignments.

         Comments: Your 3-6 demonstrations of expertise should complement your objective. Relevance is important.

    Professional Experience

    1997-present Senior Securities Analyst
    Organization Name

    - Responsible for daily analysis of trading in east Asian mutual funds and advising .....
    - 1998 selected as Most Valuable Securities Analyst.
    - Bullet item three goes here. Publish no more than 3-5 bullets.

    1994-1997 Position Name
    Organization Name

    Chief of a regional motor vehicle maintenance facility supporting 200+ vehicles and a staff of 42. Vehicle types ranged from light duty trucks to 10-ton tractor trailers, with responsibility for providing customer-site services across a five state region. Selected in 1996 as Maintenance Facility of the Year and was personally awarded with a promotion and a bonus. Seniors should focus on accomplishments and less on the tasks performed.

         Comments: You can use bullets to outline responsibilities and accomplishments (demonstrations of expertise) or you can prepare a 3-5 line narrative of responsibilities and accomplishments. There is no need to outline positions held more than 10 years ago - consider a Summary of Positions Prior to 199X if these positions have relevance and significance to achieving your current career objective.

    Summary of Positions Prior to 199X (optional section)

    Early development of my skills includes five years of service in Germany, to include liaison duties with the German Air Force (or ABC Engineering, AG, or the DEF Combined Staff, or ...) and attendance at the Advanced XYZ Course for XYZ specialists. During this period .... outline an accomplishment or significant event in which you participated.

    - BS Management, School Name, City, State, Year.
    ---- graduated with 98.2 GPA, or some accomplishment if appropropriate.
    - AA Computer Science, School Name, City, State, Year.

    Technical Certification
    - 1999, Area of Study, School Name, other identifying data.
    --- Honor Graduate, or some accomplishment if appropropriate.
    - 1995, Area of Study, School Name, other identifying data.

    Military Education
    - 1999, Area of Study, School Name, other identifying data.
    --- Honor Graduate, or some accomplishment if appropropriate.
    - 1995, Area of Study, School Name, other identifying data.

    Keywords: System ABC, Project DEF, Facility name GHI, Toolset nomenclature JKL, Foreign language MNO, etc. (You can't have too many keywords. Push the important ones that support your objective up front. A good size for this section is 3-15 lines).

         Comments: This is a very important box. Not everything about you fits nicely in a resume. Employers and search engines thrive on keywords. Keywords dramatically increase the chance of someone finding and reading your resume. Include keywords that describe your experience. equipment types, military occupational codes, base names, project titles, certification names or codes.

    Suggestions on improving this resume format can be sent to