Rock Your Private Sector Resume With These Quick Tips

Rock Your Private Sector Resume With These Quick Tips
MOAA experts and guests staff the resume review station at a MOAA-hosted networking event Oct. 4 at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. (Photo by Mike Morones/MOAA)

Writing your résumé can be daunting – even painful. I love providing résumé feedback, but when it comes to writing my own, I want to curl up in a ball and take a nap!


Regardless of your résumé-writing disposition, the following tips will help you attract the attention of hiring managers and recruiters for the work you actually want to do.


Get Real

As a uniformed professional or military spouse, you can do a long list of things. Instead of trying to cram all of them into two pages, showcase what you want to do in your next role.


Ask yourself why you really enjoyed a particular role – what specifically were you doing? Focus on those things as you craft your résumé. If you are looking to pivot into a new career space and do not have direct experience, consider using a functional résumé format instead of a chronological format.


[RELATED: Which Format Is Right for Me?]


Emphasize Impact

Most people spend too much time describing what they did. Save the storytelling for the interview: While context matters, impact is what really counts.


Why? Because it illustrates how well you performed compared with your peers, and it showcases what you, personally, can do for an organization or team.


I recommend providing a strategic level “scope statement” (no more than 2.5 lines, italicized, left justified under the title), followed by two to four indented bullets (no more than 2.5 lines each). Cut to the chase – and don’t be afraid to drop a one-liner. Something like this (sized down a bit to show formatting):



Follow Best Practices

Don’t forget the basics, and pay close attention to detail. Some reminders:

  • Limit your private sector résumé to no more than two pages. Check out this article to learn about the five key differences between federal and private sector résumés.
  • Include roles that go back 10 years (12 if directly relevant to the position you’re after).
  • Make it reader-friendly by implementing adequate spacing between sections.
  • Do not include references.
  • Watch your grammar: Don’t use personal pronouns, use consistent verb tense, and check for proper punctuation.


For more résumé-writing resources, check out these articles, part of MOAA’s Career Transition Center. Remember, Premium and Life members are eligible for an in-depth résumé review and LinkedIn critique; learn more about that process at this link. Not a Premium or Life member? Consider an upgrade today!


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About the Author

Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC
Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC

Cardinal is MOAA's Program Director, Transition Services & Family Programs. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and has extensive experience in coaching servicemembers through their transition from active duty to the civilian sector.