Career Coaching Presentation: Resume Development, Job Search Strategy, and Interviewing Techniques


Created by: William J. Smith, NAAV Senior 
Advisor for Career Coaching, Resume Development, and Employment 



  • Writing a resume to move from the military to a civilian job is really no different than writing a standard resume. The goal is to translate your military experience to relevant opportunities that you are interested in, similar to all resumes where past civilian job experience is customized to match job requirements. While serving your country, you have gained a wealth of training, education, and experience. Therefore, you are qualified to work in a variety of civilian jobs, both as a team member and a leader.

    Before writing the resume, write down your duties and accomplishments. To begin your resume, take your military background and match your skill set to the positions for which you would like to apply. With this, you can map it against what employers are looking for in a potential candidate.

  • There are two key elements to developing an effective resume: understanding your own skills and strengths and understanding the position you are targeting.

  • How do you increase your chances of having your resume picked out? Be a profit center. Show how you can boost revenue, increase productivity or cut costs for your prospective employer. Focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities. Remember to quantify the results. Get to the point. Many recruiters & hiring managers narrow the field after just a quick scan of your resume. The only purpose of the top of the resume is to get them to read down to the end. Be concise.

  • Customize your resume and demonstrate your understanding of the company and the specific requirements of the job. This approach will do better than a slightly rehashed version of an old document.

  • Preparation – Learn more about your target position & company
    To gain a better understanding of the type of position you are targeting, it is important to research the current market asking yourself this key question:

    • What are the main qualifications employers are seeking for my target position

    • Check job boards for description of position you are targeting.

  • Average Time hiring manager spends on each resume 25-30 seconds

  • Therefore resume format must be easy to read and enable the reader to QUICKLY extract the information they are looking for. Bullet Point format may be more effective than paragraph format in this regard. Keep to 2 pages.

  • Double check for errors in spelling and grammar.

Use action words like
prepared, managed, developed, championed, monitored, and presented will cause your resume to stand out. Avoid using the same verb over and over. If your resume is scanned electronically, the computer will pick up on the words. Some companies now scan in your resume and have computers pull those that meet certain criteria. The computers are looking for one thing – the keywords that have been picked by the hiring manager. These are action keywords that relate to the position so not including them or using shortened acronyms could mean your resume is disregarded as a “non-match”.


    • Chronological Format – Most commonly accepted format. List previous employment in order starting with last position

    • Functional FormatFunctional or Hybrid style resumes are effective if you are changing careers (targeting a new/different type of position) or targeting a consulting role. This format highlights “transferable” or functional skills and experience that are applicable to the new position or career. It focuses the reader’s attention on accomplishments that demonstrate key skills/expertise regardless of where or when they were used.


  • Header (name, address, e-mail address, LinkedIn URL address, home & cell phone #) Make sure e-mail address is professional not a funny or slang name.

  • SummaryIt’s a smart idea to quickly capture an employer’s attention with easily digestible information. Consider beginning your résumé with a specific, highly condensed summary of your professional background, skills, and attributes. A summary also helps give your résumé focus.This section articulates your main qualifications that are important for the target position. Remember, this is where you STATE YOUR CASE to capture the reader’s attention and answer the question, “Why should I interview you instead of other candidates?” State your skills and experience and quantifiable contributions you have made i.e. saved $, improved efficiency of a process etc.

  • Professional experience – This section usually highlights the last 10-15 years of employment because employers are typically more interested in your recent experience. List company name, job title, responsibilities & accomplishments

  • Education – List name of institution graduation dates & degree’s

    • This section can include additional training courses, certifications, and licenses you have completed or obtained that support your target position.

  • Technical Skills This section includes all types of technical skills including computer, equipment and processes.

  • Associations/ Memberships list involvement or roles held in relevant affiliations or associations.

Accomplishments: Employers are interested in previous accomplishments.

  • The fact that you implemented cost-cutting measures that reduced your department’s expenses by 15 percent is far more meaningful than simply stating that you oversaw a budget. Quantify your achievements in terms of percentages, dollar amounts, or time frames to make your accomplishments more concrete.

  • An accomplishment is made up of three elements:




  • Customize your Resume -If you have a broad range of experience, you may want to consider having more than one résumé, each targeted to a specific industry or job.
    • When you submit a résumé for a particular job, make sure the accomplishments you’ve highlighted match the specific skills that the employer is looking for. Potential employers will not take the time to figure out why you might be a match; your résumé must make it clear for them.

  • E-Mailing resume: not all employers want to accept the .pdf format and may not be able to open a PDF file without having Adobe Acrobat software. Best to send in WORDDOC format.



    • Defining Your Career Objective- Completing formal and informal assessment exercises helps you take stock of your interests, skills, strengths, work or management style, accomplishments, and values. When you know what you have to offer your next employer and have a handle on your unique selling points, you can stand out from the competition.

    • Researching Your Market –The goal of this phase is to find the best place for you in the world of work. This is where your strengths, interests, and needs intersect with the realities of the job market. In other words, in which occupational fields, industries, and/or organization(s) will you find your best fit?

    • Developing Your Marketing Kit –After identifying what you have to offer an employer and what you want out of your next role, you are ready to develop your marketing kit. This will contain written documents and spoken scripts that help you convey your qualifications and career objectives when you are networking, applying for jobs, and interviewing. Essential elements for your kit include the following:

      • Reason-for-Leaving Statement

      • 30-second Commercial (Elevator Speech)

        • This strategic component of your job search is a snapshot of your career history along with a focused presentation of your key strengths and accomplishments. It reflects an understanding of why you are valuable to the market in a way that can be quickly and easily understood by the busy prospective employer and your network contacts.

      • Business Card

      • Resume(s)

  • Develop a solid search strategy and set a work schedule in which to implement it. Treat your job search like a job.

  • Create your target companies list.

  • Networking to Uncover Leads and Reach Decision Makers

    • Over 70% of hiring is done thru networking

    • Effective networking is not asking others if they know of job openings or asking contacts to pass out copies of your resume. That’s a high-pressure, limiting approach. Effective networking is building mutually beneficial relationships with others who can provide helpful advice, information, and referrals to aid you in your career transition.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKING Social media networking, or online networking, is much like traditional “off-line” networking. It’s a way to build and maintain professional relationships so you can gather and share advice, information, and referrals.

    • How important is social media networking? The figures continue to rise, but currently more than 80% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, 55% use Facebook, and 45% use Twitter.

TRACK PROGRESS – Staying on top of companies you’ve contacted, individuals you’ve spoken and/or interviewed with, results of conversations, correspondence you’ve


Tactics you can use to track down job opportunities:

Contact Professional Organizations in Your Field

National, regional and local professional organizations exist in great part to help their members with career development. Many organizations include field-specific job listings on their Web sites or in their printed publications.

Visit Company and Organization Web Sites

Many companies and organizations post their job openings right on their own Web sites (usually under an Employment or Career Opportunities link).

Apply Directly to Organizations That Interest You

Do you know you want to work specifically for Company X or Organization Y? If so, send a well-written cover letter and your resume directly to the company, either to its human resources office or, often more effective, to the person who would likely make hiring decisions for the part of the organization that interests you. It isn’t always easy to find the right person to get in touch with; typically, you’ll have to do some digging.

Network, Network, Network

Generally the most effective job-hunting approach, networking is simply talking to people to either track down helpful personal contacts or learn about job openings that may not necessarily be widely advertised or advertised at all. Start by talking to your own family& friends. Let everyone in your life know you’re looking for a job, and give them an idea of what type of job you want.

Join Professional Associations

If there’s a professional organization in your field, join it and start participating in its meetings and other events so you can get to know people in your area of interest. Work with a career counselor at your school to both tap his contacts and learn of alumni from your school who might be able and willing to lend you a hand in your search. Finally, don’t forget to tap your professors’ connections as well.

Participate in Job Fairs

Many cities, particularly large ones, host job fairs at various locations throughout the year. Most colleges and universities hold their own job fairs as well, either individually or in collaboration with other institutions. A job fair is a rare opportunity to have employers come to you, so make sure you attend whenever possible.

Use a Placement Agency or Recruiter/Headhunter

There are companies out there that specialize in helping people find jobs. Some of them even focus on working with college students and recent college grads. Maybe one of them can help you. A word of caution, however: While most organizations receive their fees from employers (and not you, the job seeker), some will seek money from you. So be careful, and make sure you know who’s paying the bill.

Consider Temping

Often, by working briefly as a temp for a company, you can position yourself to be hired for a full-time, permanent position that opens up later on. Even if that doesn’t happen, however, temping can help you see various companies from the inside, meet people in your field of interest and earn some pretty good money.

The more diverse your job-hunting methods are, the more opportunities you’ll uncover and the greater the chance that you’ll find, and land, the job you really want.


  • The GOAL of the interview is to pick the best person for the job at hand.

  • Preparation for the Interview:

    • RESEACH- It is critical to obtain as much information as possible on the company and job in question before the interview. Job specifications on job boards or through recruiters will give information of the position. The internet is a good source of information on the company.

    • PREPARE RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS – Preparing a response to potential questions is critical. Questions such as: “Tell me about yourself”, Why did you leave your last employer”, What are your strengths”, What are your weaknesses”. Give short to the point answers.

    • List 2 – 3 messages that you want to leave with the interviewer. Possibly some of the contributions you have made to past employers that would be meaningful to your target company.

    • Never be negative when speaking about your past employer or colleagues.

    • ASK QUESTIONS -Just as the interviewer wants to get a solid sense of what you bring to the table, you should also have questions ready that will enable you to get a better sense of the position and the organization. When interviewing with the hiring manager, you may want to ask why the position is open and what they perceive to be the challenges that the role would be expected to overcome.

  • NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION: Nonverbal communication is key to interviewing success. In addition to clear, concise verbal content in your responses, how you deliver your message and present yourself during interviews is important. Research shows that the impact of our communication breaks down into three communication elements.

    • 55% of communication is visual – body language and eye contact

    • 38% is vocal – pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice

    • 7% is the words you use

  • AFTER THE INTERVIEW- After the interview, send brief, personal notes, emails or letters of appreciation to each of the individual interviewers. The Thank-you correspondence serves two purposes; first sending a thank-you is just good simply business courtesy and second it is your opportunity to solidify your candidacy. The major components of this correspondence are:

    • Express continued interest and enthusiasm for the position.

    • Confirm or re-state the most important contribution you expect to make.

    • Present any important points that were missed in the interview.

    • State that you will stay in touch


  • Don’t offer references until asked.

  • Inform your references. Brief them on the interview and describe your understanding of the role to help them be prepared when the call comes.

  • Contact your references immediately when you’ve provided the list to a prospective employer. Share with them the kinds of questions they are likely to be asked, and also provide your answers to these same types of questions.

  • After your reference has been contacted by the interviewer ask for feedback from your reference. What types of questions were asked? What topics were covered? What concerns were raised?

  • Thank them for their continued support with your search

  • CONTINUE YOUR JOB SEARCH –No matter how well the interview goes, don’t put all of your eggs in this one basket. You should always continue other job search efforts while you wait to hear about a decision.

    • If you are not offered the position, send a ‘response to turndown’ letter/e-mail. You never know if the selected candidate will work out or if another similar position will become available.

  • Interview Dynamics

    • How you perceive your “role” in an interview will have a huge impact on how you engage in that interaction. If your mental road map of the interview puts the interviewer in control and relegates you to simply answering questions, you will miss opportunities to convey important information as well as fail to allow the interviewer to actually experience you as an active, effective professional in the interview itself.

    • A more useful frame of reference is to consider yourself an equal partner in the interview exchange. Ask questions about the employer’s challenges and needs as early as possible in the interview so you can provide a focused description about what you offer that will add value to their efforts. You and the interviewer have the same goal: to identify the best candidate for the job. Allowing yourself equal partner status will increase your confidence and help you prove that you are that best candidate.

    • THINK POSITIVE – The mindset with which you anticipate an event can influence your experience of the event.

    • Job candidates “need to appreciate that any interview with HR or (a financial director/ dept manager) will be different,” he said. “Most Dept managers will do a competency-based interview. If the interview is conducted by a recruiting team or HR, candidates must also demonstrate that they’ve got a self-development plan, that they’ve thought about their career, and that they have the soft skills needed.”

  • Seven ways to make a good impression

Before the interview begins, job-seekers must make an interpersonal connection with the interviewer. The basics of a firm handshake and a warm, I’m-happy-to-be-here expression set the tone.

  • Be on time. As one CFO recently said, “If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late.” If you’re even a minute or two late, that reflects poorly on you. Get specific directions, especially if you have to navigate an unfamiliar building. Plan to arrive early, but not too early. Bursting into an office at 9:40 for a 10:00 interview shows a lack a concern for your interviewer’s schedule. Instead, get to the site early, use a mirror to check for any grooming emergencies, and rehearse a few of your answers.
  • Be enthusiastic, but not over the top. It’s important to show genuine interest in the job and in the questions asked, but don’t be three-cups-of-coffee maniacal. Maintain an amiable, even-keel demeanor.
  • Print copies of your résumé and other materials the night before. If you’ve been given a list of people you’ll be talking to, email materials in advance. It is an easy way to make sure you don’t run out of copies, and it gives your interviewers prep time as well.
  • Practice, practice, practice. In the days before your interview, go over questions you expect to be asked. Then, out loud, answer those questions. Role-play with a friend or significant other so that they can provide feedback on your answers. If you’re having trouble with a practice answer, write out or type your responses, then practice those words. Two questions to be sure to practice answering: Why are you interested in this job? Why are you looking to leave your current job?
  • Don’t eat garlic fries, or a box of chocolate cookies, before the interview. But eat something; you’ll need the energy. No matter what you choose to eat, stopping to check your teeth is probably a good idea. It’ll also help you practice another skill you’ll need to make a good impression: Smiling.
  • Watch your language. This should go without saying, but apparently some people get excited telling a story, and they might drop a no-no word in there. Bad move, especially before a hiring manager has had time to form an opinion.
  • Be prepared with your own questions. This will show you’ve done research and that you’re thinking seriously about the job. If an interviewer asks a job candidate, “Do you have any questions?” and the answer is a casual, “Nope, I’m good,” then, no, that’s not good.


Tips to help highlight five soft skills during an interview:

1. Work ethic. Make sure to weave your thoughts about how important the company’s mission and vision are to you and explain why you’re willing to go the extra mile to help the organization succeed. One tenet of evaluating candidates is that past performance is a predictor of future results. Make sure you prove that you have a strong work ethic by giving examples from the past about how you went above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done. “Describe how you always complete projects efficiently and on-time, why you’re punctual and persistent and how you balance your drive to succeed with the company’s goals,” Earnest says.

2. Positive attitude. Give examples of how you improved employee morale in a past position, or how your positive attitude helped motivate your colleagues or those you managed. Earnest suggests: “Some people are naturally bubbly and always upbeat. Others have a more tame and low-energy demeanor. Especially if you tend to be more low-key, smile when you shake the interviewer’s hand and make an extra effort to add some intonation and expression to your responses.”

Make sure you aren’t boring or dry, or you could lose your chance to be hired.

3. Communication skills. Your interview is a great opportunity to demonstrate how well you communicate, so be sure you prepare and practice responses to showcase your best skills. Earnest says, “Be concrete with these examples, and bring proof to the interview. Provide examples of materials you created or written campaigns you developed in past positions.”

4. Time management. This is a crucial skill many employers seek. Earnest notes, “It’s especially important for candidates who want to work in a startup to know how to manage their time, tasks and responsibilities effectively.” Be prepared to explain how you prioritize the most important items first, delegate the items that others can do and figure out a way to get things done in the confines of your resources on the job.

5. Self confidence. Earnest reminds job seekers, “You can demonstrate self confidence at the interview by the way you present yourself, including how you dress for the interview, the way you approach to shake hands and how you speak about your experiences during the interview.”

If you’re not particularly confident, practice acting like you are. Make direct eye contact when speaking with strangers. Listen to your own voice–is it shrill or timid? Rehearse speaking in a more confident-sounding voice. Don’t forget about your body language, which is one of the first ways employers will gauge your confidence levels. If you tend to hunch over, make sure you think about sitting up during your interview.

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