How to Write a Job-Specific Resume

How to Write a Job-Specific Resume

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About the Author

Erin Stone retired as a Navy captain in 2017. She held multiple leadership positions with broad organizational responsibility in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, to include command of Naval Legal Service Office North Central/Defense Service Office North. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and member of the Virginia Bar, she earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and holds a Masters in Law in Litigation and Dispute Resolution from George Washington University. 

Passionate about helping people and organizations succeed, after military retirement Captain Stone found her new career home with the Military Officers Association of America. As Program Director for Council and Chapter Affairs, she develops relationships and organizational processes to support a healthy and vibrant affiliate system, enhance member value, and facilitate legislative action on the local, state and national level. 

An effective résumé shows that a candidate is eminently qualified for a job for which he or she is applying. So it's crucial to rework your résumé for each job for which you are applying, using key words from the job announcement. Here are some tips:

Once you've identified a target job, print the job announcement and highlight key words throughout: in the job description, responsibilities, and requirements/qualifications. Key words might be verbs like “create, manage, develop, implement, lead, control”; skills like “communication skills, organizational skills, project management”; subject-matter nouns such as “veterans, cyber, telecommunications”; and qualifications like “security clearance or MBA.” Then look at your networking (general) résumé and highlight any matching key words. Check those off from the job announcement.

[RELATED: MOAA's Transition and Career Center]

For remaining key words, if you have those skills, experience, or subject-matter expertise but have used different words, change your original word to the verbatim key word from the announcement, and/or add bullets to the appropriate section (i.e., summary, experience, education, volunteer experience) to indicate that quality. Remove any content that is irrelevant to the job.

If you are not actively job searching but will begin in the next year, start looking at job announcements for target jobs now. You probably will begin to see some consistency in what organizations are looking for in a particular occupation. This is a great time to identify shortfalls and ask for special assignments at work or look for volunteer opportunities to fill in résumé gaps.

You can find thousands of job announcements on MOAA's job board.