Resume Writing Tips for Navy Nukes

This discussion was developed over the past two decades specifically to assist Navy Nuclear Trained Personnel in both writing and enhancing the targeted resumes required to successfully transition back into the civilian work force. This text has been designed to provide relevant information to those who are just starting to write their resume as well as those who wish to refine an existing copy of their resume.
There are no elaborate or untried theories presented at great length in this material. Instead, an emphasis has been placed on understanding the basic concepts of what makes a resume useful in one's job search. Despite what you may have read recently about the use of resumes in the new millennium, there are still really only two types: resumes that are effective in getting you the interview for the job that you really want, and ones that aren't effective. Beyond this, nothing else really matters.
USS George Washington (CVN 73)

DHA Resume KeyAn effective resume is one that will eliminate all potential objections that an employer might have about interviewing you.
For those actively on the job market, the reality is that employers in today's high-tech industries are only looking for top-quality employees. Yet, in this competitive market, there are very few job applicants who realize that companies don't actually use a selection process in trying to hire the "cream of the crop," but use a de-selection process instead. Hence, the hiring process is more often one of single elimination criteria.
In other words, you may often be eliminated from further consideration if your resume fails to meet any one of many criteria that you may be judged upon. Even a single perceived weakness or deficiency on your part may keep you from getting the interview that you need, even if your actual qualifications are significantly better than all of your competitors.
DHA Resume KeyYour resume will typically be evaluated using Single Elimination Criteria in what is actually a de-selection process. What this means is that your resume may eliminate you from any further consideration based upon even a single perceived deficiency.
It is imperative that your resume be designed to provide a summary of your greatest achievements and show your highest potential to prospective employers. The standard for your resume must be one of perfection. Simply stated, your goal in writing your resume is to make it easy for an employer to invite you to an interview.
DHA Resume KeyThe goal in writing your resume is to produce an effective calling card that will serve to make prospective employers want to get to know you better.
In order to reach this goal, you need two things. First, you must develop a system necessary to help you frame and write your resume. This discussion provides you with the basis of that system. In addition to having defined your goal, this system contains: (a) a brief presentation about the three different forms of resumes; (b) a discussion of the use of Personal Data Blocks for organizing the information on your resume; (c) the interspersion of Resume Keys throughout the text to provide important writing tips; (d) concluding comments; and, (e) several Navy Nuclear Sample Resumes designed for easy inspection.
USS Key West (SSN 722)

Second, you need a commitment to quality in order to produce a resume that will really get the job done for you. It can be said that the difference between the best-written and worst written resumes in a field often amounts to the difference between the attitudes of the two individuals who wrote the resumes. Keep in mind that your commitment to quality is not a skill nor a technique but an attitude that will affect your every written word.
No resume writing system will work for you unless you are willing to do things right from the beginning. You must be willing to invest the time, effort, and research to produce an effective resume if you are serious about reaching your employment goals. In the final analysis, the resume that you use will likely only work as well in effectively producing for you as you worked in effectively producing it.
DHA Resume KeyThe key to producing an effective resume is having the commitment to quality to do it right the first time.

There are three basic forms of resumes that you need to consider as a Navy Nuke in transitioning to the civilian sector. These three forms are: (1) the Reverse Chronological Form; (2) the Functional Form; and, (3) the Combination Form, which actually uses the best features of the Reverse Chronological and Functional Forms.
All three of these forms of resumes can be very effective depending upon the number of years of experience one has along with the number of skills that one has acquired. Whatever your background and employment goals, however, it is recommended that you study all three of these forms before making your selection of which to use. Be advised that what may work well for one Navy Nuke may not necessary work well for another.
DHA Resume KeyYour choice of resume form should be based solely upon that which will allow you to make a concise presentation of your qualifications using as few words as possible. Remember that the goal of your resume is to provide a succinct summary of your potential to do a job.

Reverse Chronological Form of Resume:
Until recent years, the most widely used resume form was the Chronological Form. A more correct name is actually the Reverse Chronological Form in that one's education and employment histories are presented in reverse chronological order on the resume with the most recent training and experience listed first under the respective Headings.
The Reverse Chronological Form works well for individuals who have less than about ten years of experience and who have clearly obtained positions with increasing responsibility. This resume serves to document the upward career path of a candidate and draw the reader to the conclusion that this upward progress is likely to continue. This form is particularly useful for those who have spent all or most of their careers working in only one field.
USS Norfolk (SSN 714)
The Reverse Chronological Form of resume works well for most Navy Nuclear Officers and Enlisted Personnel who have about ten years of experience or less. As an example, a Machinists Mate with ten years of experience who has qualified as Engineroom Supervisor, Engineering Watch Supervisor, and then Engineering Officer of the Watch at a prototype, would be well advised to list these watch stations as separate job titles with the highest qualification at the top of the resume.
DHA Resume KeyUse 8.5- by 11-inch white paper for all resumes. Although colored paper may look good in some instances, it doesn't always copy well or fax clearly.

Functional Form of Resume:
The second major form of resume that enjoys considerable use is the Functional Form, which is designed to summarize a candidate's potential by grouping similar skills together. This resume has historically enjoyed widespread use among more experienced candidates.
The Functional Form is often used by applicants who have more than about ten years of experience, those who have worked in several parallel positions within a field, or by individuals who are attempting to change fields altogether. Additionally, the Functional Form is appropriate for those who have skills that are marketable across several unrelated industries.
The Functional Form of resume works well for most career Navy Nuclear Officers and Enlisted Personnel who have over ten to fifteen years of experience. As an example, a Chief Electricians Mate with 22 years of experience who has served as Engineering Watch Supervisor on a sub, a Radiological Controls Shift Supervisor on a tender, and then as a Warrant Officer at a maintenance facility on shore would be well served to use the Functional Form of resume to group the different kinds of skills under Headings such as Operations, Radcon, and Maintenance.
DHA Resume KeyFrame your resume with margins that are between one and one-and-one-half inches on all sides.

Combination Form of Resume:
The Combination Form of resume is actually a hybrid of the Reverse Chronological and Functional Forms and typically offers the best of both worlds. Over the past ten years or so, this form has gained widespread use and is often the form of choice by Navy Nukes. The Combination Form is designed to allow a potential employer to skim over a Summary at the top of the resume and then garner more information as needed from the rest of the text on the resume.
USS Michigan (SSBN 727)

The Combination Form of resume is extremely effective for three reasons. First, it allows for easy recognition of relevant "buzz words" in the Summary in order to gain the reader's attention. Second, it improves the readability of a resume by telling the reader up front what the rest of the resume is all about. In this sense, the Summary acts like a Table of Contents to instill positive expectations in the reader. And third, the Summary tells the reader beforehand what the rest of the resume also tells the reader. Here, potential employers are much more likely to invite you to an interview after reading about your talents and accomplishments twice, instead of just once.
DHA Resume KeyKeep your resume to either one page (preferred, especially if you have ten years of experience or less) or two pages (acceptable if you have more than ten years of experience).
The most often-used Combination Form of resume is one in which the Reverse Chronological Form is used entirely, except for the inclusion of a Summary at the top of the resume. Here the initial Summary provides the reader with a mini-resume of what is contained within the whole resume. On the other hand, more experienced candidates such as Career Navy Nukes often use the Combination Form of resume in which the Summary precedes a more comprehensive listing of general skills and accomplishments. Because of its flexibility, the Combination Form of resume is the most effective written presentation of one's qualifications for most applicants.
DHA Resume KeyThe Combination Form of resume uses a Summary at the beginning of the resume regardless of whether the rest of the resume is based upon the Reverse Chronological Form or the Functional Form.

After having chosen one of the three resume forms to serve as the blueprint in building your resume, you are now ready for the actual building blocks to construct your own personal written summary. In the age of word processing, it is convenient to consider the actual text of your resume as being comprised of Personal Data Blocks (or just Blocks, for short).
After having visualized several of these integral, stand-alone Blocks, it is also easy to imagine moving these same Blocks around with the cut-and-paste keys on the computer. Regardless of whether you are using a typewriter, a word processing program, or are having your resume typeset, this formulation can prove to be very useful for either framing your resume for the first time or for putting the finishing touches on your final draft.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)

DHA Resume KeyDon't use a font size so small that it is difficult to read. Many of the hiring managers and employment representatives will be in their forties and starting to have difficulty with farsightedness. Additionally, very small font sizes don't fax very well.
A review of the six Sample Resumes shows that there are sixteen different Personal Data Blocks that have been used in various combinations on one or more of these resumes. While this number of Blocks represents a comprehensive list to choose from, the average number of Blocks used on the six Sample Resumes is between five and six.
While the distinction between the two classifications may not always be clear, there are six Primary Personal Data Blocks and ten Secondary Personal Data Blocks that have been used on one or more of the six Sample Resumes.
The Primary Blocks are essential for almost any resume in that they are required to answer the six basic questions about you concerning who?, what?, when?, where?, why?, and how?
The Secondary Blocks can be helpful in some instances in providing supplemental answers to these six basic questions, but are simply resume filler in other cases, and may even be detrimental. Since the selection process in hiring is actually an elimination process, either too much information or the wrong kind of information on your resume can eliminate you from further consideration in some cases.
DHA Resume KeyCheck your resume carefully for content, form, accuracy, grammar, punctuation, and spelling before submitting it.

Primary Personal Data Blocks:
The six required Primary Personal Data Blocks used on your resume are listed as follows:
  1. Name/Address/Phone Numbers/Email Address
  2. Summary
  3. Education
  4. Experience (For all Reverse Chronological Forms of Resumes)
  5. Accomplishments (For all Functional Forms of Resumes)
  6. Certifications (If applicable).
DHA Resume KeyThe six Primary Personal Data Blocks should answer all of the critical questions that Hiring Personnel might have about you as a candidate including who?, what?, when?, where?, why?, and how?

Name/Address/Phone Numbers/Email Address:
This Primary Personal Data Block should always be clearly identified at the top of the first page of one's resume. All words in the address should be written out completely to avoid any confusion. Both the home and work telephone numbers should also be listed, if available. Further, having an Email address listed with your name is becoming more important every year. It is acceptable and probably desirable to have both your name and telephone number listed together at the top of page two if you have a two-page resume.
DHA Resume KeyStick with traditional wisdom in using the Name Block and don't attempt to hide your address and phone numbers at the bottom of your resume.

The Summary is the single most important Block on your resume and should always be featured prominently just below your Name Block. As stated previously, the Summary is actually a mini-resume within a resume. This Primary Block must contain a brief and concise description of your accomplishments and illuminate your future potential with a new employer. If your Summary contains six or more lines of text, break the text up into two paragraphs so the reader can more easily concentrate on a single idea at a time.
DHA Resume KeyChoose the buzz words on your Summary carefully as nothing else on your resume will be read if you fail to impress the reader with this first paragraph.

The Education Block typically follows the Summary Block and first provides a listing of either any college degrees or significant college course work listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent schooling presented first.
In the current market, it is a standard practice to list any GPA's that are equal to 3.0 or above on a 4.0 Scale. While there is certainly nothing wrong with having a GPA that is less than 3.0, many Human Resources Specialists use this number as a rough (and very easy) screening device to eliminate candidates from further consideration.
USS Seawolf (SSN 21)

DHA Resume KeyIf you are a Navy Nuclear Officer, don't claim that the combination of Nuclear Power School and Prototype is the equivalent of having a Master's Degree in Nuclear Engineering.
Following college course work, all significant Navy Schools should also be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent schooling listed first. Here it is desirable to provide your class standing for any Navy School for which you were ranked in the top 50%. Do your homework here and dig out your evaluations so that you know what these numbers really are.
DHA Resume KeyBe sure to claim credit for your academic achievements and make the strongest statement that you can about your abilities. In other words, if you were 10 out of 100 or finished in the top 10% for a school, be sure to list your class rank as 10 out of 100 or that you finished in the top 10% (and not just in the top half).

For all resumes based on the Reverse Chronological Form, the Experience Block should contain the complete record of what you have done during your career with your most recent assignment listed first. Each job description in the Experience Block should stand by itself as if describing a chapter in a larger book. Similar to a book which has a beginning, a middle, and an ending, the Experience Block should tell where you have been, where you are now, and point to where you would like to go.
DHA Resume KeyBe sure to use present tense verbs on the Experience Block for your current position and past tense verbs on this Block for all previously held positions.

For all resumes based on the Functional Form, the Accomplishments Block should contain a categorical listing of either deeds performed, skills acquired, or a combination of these attributes. Each category should stand by itself in describing significant qualifications with respect to one's current employment objectives. For Career Navy Nukes, some of the most often used Categorical Headings include titles such as Management, Engineering, Operations, Maintenance, Training, and Quality Assurance.
DHA Resume KeyBe sure to use past tense verbs under all Categorical Headings listed under the Accomplishments Block even if you are currently responsible for some of these functions.

The Certifications Block is an important requirement to list on your resume if you have acquired certification in any of your work-related duties. Examples for Navy Nukes include being certified as a Nuclear Engineer, a Journeyman Maintenance Electrician, a Journeyman Maintenance Mechanic, and a Universal Technician Refrigerant Handler. All of these certifications can be highly sought after in today's job market and may be the one qualification that makes your resume stand out above all others.
Secondary Personal Data Blocks:
The ten supplemental Secondary Personal Data Blocks that can be used on your resume are listed as follows:
  1. Objective
  2. Positions Held
  3. Areas of Expertise
  4. Awards
  5. Achievements
  6. Software Proficiency
  7. Instrumentation Proficiency
  8. Professional Memberships
  9. Personal
  10. References.
USS Seawolf (SSN 21)

DHA Resume KeyThe purpose of using a selected number of the ten Secondary Personal Data Blocks is to actively enhance the presentation of the more critical information that should be listed under the Primary Personal Data Blocks.

Many may be surprised that the Objective Block is listed only as a Secondary Personal Data Block. It's true that a very clearly targeted Objective at the top of your resume can help you land the interview that you need to obtain your goal. Yet the use of the Objective Block can also function as a two-edged sword. Since the selection process for those who get to interview is actually one of Single Elimination Criteria, a written objective that is targeted for one position will likely eliminate you from consideration for all other positions.
Even if you are equally interested in both nuclear and non-nuclear employment as you separate from the Navy, listing one kind of position ahead of the other under the Objective Block will make the reader assume that you really only want the first kind of employment listed. Although a minor portion of Navy Nukes do use the Objective Block on their resumes, this Block serves as an unnecessary risk that should be avoided under most circumstances.
DHA Resume KeyUse of the Objective Block on your resume should be considered very carefully because while it can successfully target your resume for one opening it can eliminate you from consideration for all other positions.

Positions Held:
The Positions Held Block is probably best suited for use on a resume with a Functional Form to list what may be a large number of watch stations held by a Career Navy Nuke. In some instances this Block may simply be used as a filler to round out one page of a two-page resume. In other instances, however, providing a listing of one's watch stations may prove helpful in identifying your qualifications to Human Resources Personnel who are not technically trained, yet recognize these terms as some of the appropriate buzz words they are looking for.
DHA Resume KeyDon't exaggerate in describing either the watch stations that you have held or the duties that you performed.

Areas of Expertise:
The Areas of Expertise Block can either be used on a Functional Form resume or incorporated into the Summary Block of a Reverse Chronological Form resume. The Areas of Expertise Block can be effectively used, when room permits, to highlight one's expertise in a variety of operations, engineering, and maintenance disciplines.
The Awards Block is usually the proper place to list all official Navy Medals, Commendations, and Awards. Although this Block is not critical, it adds a nice touch to almost any resume if there is sufficient room for its use.
The Achievements Block is similar to the Awards Block except that it can also be used to briefly list accomplishments in tabular form as well as other benchmarks of high achievement. Some of these benchmarks include having earned the Eagle Scouting Award, serving as valedictorian or salutatorian of your high school class, or being on the Dean's List during your college studies.
DHA Resume KeyProudly state your accomplishments but always maintain a touch of humility while doing so by indicating that you are a dedicated team player and eager to learn new skills.

Software Proficiency:
Although the Software Proficiency Block is typically used as a filler, it may also be very useful in some instances to list all of the software programs that you are fluent in. Additionally, any experience or training that you may have in Computer Aided Design can be particularly valuable to some employers.
Instrumentation Proficiency:
The Instrumentation Proficiency Block can be a very useful Block especially for Electronics Technicians and Electricians Mates. While many hiring managers in the private sector have a reasonable idea of what instrumentation Navy Nukes use, many Human Resources Representatives don't. Hence, listing the instruments that you are well versed in can serve to draw the attention of non-technical individuals who are reviewing your resume for specific job proficiencies.
Professional Memberships:
The Professional Memberships Block is probably the least useful Block that is frequently used in Navy Nuclear Resumes. Although this Block can be used very effectively as a filler to round out a resume page, in many cases you would be better served to consider expanding the verbiage of some other Block to better use the space.
Although the Personal Block is frequently used as a filler on resumes, it can also be very useful in documenting some relevant odds and ends that may be difficult to place together under any of the other Primary and Secondary Personal Data Blocks. Some of the varied information that can be catalogued here includes hobbies and interests, significant previous accomplishments, hardware and software proficiency, Navy Medals, Commendations, and Awards, and certifications.
DHA Resume KeyYour listing of hobbies, interests, and previous accomplishments should be at least indirectly related to the kinds of employment that you are presently seeking.

Although the References Block is typically used as a filler on resumes, this Block also serves as a useful introduction to your actual references by stating "Furnished Upon Request" under this Heading. While it is considered premature to include references with your actual resume, it is recommended that you have three Professional References listed on an addendum page to your resume.

DHA Resume KeyA listing of your three professional references including names, addresses, phone numbers, and ranks or job titles, should be contained on a matching addendum page to your resume. This information can then be readily furnished to employers but only after this information has been requested.

By now you have hopefully had the time to obtain a brief overview concerning the mechanics of how to draft and produce an effective resume. If you have not already done so, your next step is to study the actual six Sample Resumes of Navy Nukes that accompanies this discussion. Here, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Integrating the theory in this section with the formatting of the six Sample Resumes should result in the development of an effective resume that will work for you in presenting your best qualifications. Good luck!

Providing a Company Referral to DHA

Don Hite Associates is committed to providing a premier technical recruiting service to high-tech companies while serving Navy Nuclear Personnel with key professional assistance in transitioning back into the civilian work force.

If you are a Navy Nuke and have appreciated the assistance provided by DHA, you may return the favor and provide us with a Company Referral by notifying us of any prospective employers who are interviewing Navy Nukes that we may not be aware of.

You can be assured that this information will be put to good use in helping to match both the vocational interests and geographical preferences of some of your fellow Navy Nukes with these prospective employers.

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