Five Resume and Interviewing Strategies for Transitioning Servicemembers

Transitioning from military to civilian status can be stressful and challenging. To better prepare and make yourself more marketable, you will need to know how to effectively job search, create a resume, and interview.

Here are five resume and interviewing strategies to assist with your transition:

    1. Know the differences between a federal resume and a private sector resume. A federal resume provides details about your education, background, and work history and serves as the official application for the open position or Job Opportunity Announcement (JOA). The average federal resume can be 3-5 pages long, if not more, given the length of your work history. A private sector resume should be 1-2 pages in length depending upon the level of experience, and should include a brief career history with no more than 10 years of relevant work experience. Private sector resume focus on high-level information about your accomplishments and are customized and tailored to the position you are seeking.

    2. Create your resume using one or more of the three resume tools located in CareerQuest.  Resume Builder is a good place to start for students and alumni who do not have a resume. VMock is a tool that provides an automatic resume critique using artificial intelligence. Your resume is compared to one of five benchmarks, and you will receive specific feedback on content and format. And finally, Resunate is a tool that compares your resume to a job description. You will receive a score (out of 10) that explains how well your resume matches the job description you provided. Resunate also offers suggestions on how to better customize your resume.

    3. Assess career requirements, identify your target career and industries, and use career resources to identify qualifications such as Then note your current relevant skills and knowledge and identify gaps. Fill in qualification gaps with education (research, projects, and course outcomes) or transferable experience via employment, community activities, internships, etc.

    4. When preparing to interview, it is important to think about how your interests, skills, education, experience, and values align with the organization and position you are interviewing for. If you do not clearly communicate how you align with the organization, employers could conclude you either lack initiative or don’t care about the organization or industry. Choosing the right interview attire is also important. Different industries still require that you dress conservatively while others have a more relaxed atmosphere. How you dress can either make or break a job interview, so dress professionally unless you are certain that casual dress attire is appropriate.

      To practice interviewing and receive immediate feedback, check out CareerQuest interview tool Quinncia, which uses artificial intelligence to provide custom interviews and feedback. Quinncia customizes interviews based on information in your resume. You’ll receive instant feedback on your interview responses, body language, and more. Another tool, Interviewstream, allows you to practice interviewing using questions that are common in industries such as IT, cybersecurity, healthcare, and human resources. You can also create a customized interview from a database of hundreds of interview questions.

    5. Use resources that provide relevant data and insights to help you make better decisions about your transition and civilian employment. Visit the Military section on CareerQuest for an overview of the career resources available for military-affiliated students and alumni.

As always, keep in mind that UMUC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Click here to set up an appointment with a UMUC Career Advising Specialist.

Rhoda Smackum is a career advising specialist for Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland University College. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.