REINVENTION: Preparing Your Post-Public Service Resume for Your Private Industry Career

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Reinventing and translating your public service resume to reflect your KSAs and metrics to private industry positions is an exercise in self-assessment. Networking with others who have successfully obtained a position and learning the importance of a business acumen focused resumes will assist you in transforming your public service resume. Research, prepare and focus your reinvented resume – note it is a living document that will be aligned to the roles and responsibilities outlined in each position description you apply.

Just like each of you who are retired, eligible or close to retiring from your public service career – what we offer to private industry are the traits which proved successful during our public service careers – dependability, discipline, integrity, teamwork, worth ethic, planning, execution, accountability and experience, as well as our knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) germane to our public service careers and “transferrable to private industry”.

Our public service KSAs are all great and a valuable metric internally, yet, dependent on your next career choice, these types of metrics do not translate well in private industry. Unfortunately, the people that read resumes typically receive hundreds of resumes and on average take about 7 seconds to scan and review for key words aligned to the required and preferred positional role and responsibilities needed for the position. If your resume isn’t aligned to their needs it becomes part of the digital circular file. Writing a business savvy resume with the information germane to the position in two pages or less is critically important.

Translating your public service success to a private industry hiring manager can be accomplished. You must format your resume with metrics which can be easily translated to business acumen – as who you were, is not as important as who you will become within that next organization. Your resume and cover letter, specifically focused to each position at each organization you apply – must be easily readable with information that supports a future employer’s consideration to get you to the next level – the interview process. Without a strong resume and cover letter, you may be one amongst hundreds who are applying – the goal is to have your resume chosen! A resume is a “living document that is initially written at 90% completion and the other 10% is tweaked to the related role and responsibilities within an organization that you are making application.

In a nutshell, play to your character strengths, e.g., 20 years of loyal, dedicated work ethic; translate metrics that make sense, e.g., supervised 10 employees, administered 7 projects, etc.; specify your security clearance if you possess one and the date of expiration, e.g., Top Secret Security Clearance – Expires January 2018; identify your status if you were a Veteran and especially if you are a Disabled American Veteran (DAV) and/or remain a reserve within one of the U.S. Armed Forces, e.g., U.S. Navy 1969-1973, DAV; and, ensure all your professional certifications are identified and current, e.g., certified Project Management Professional (PMP). As well, know which of your professional certifications you obtained in your public service are recognized nationally and/or internationally and capitalize on those. There are several other focuses as you translate a public service career of 20+ years to a two page resume, including highlighting only the last 5 to 10 years, with the last 5 years emphasized – private industry hiring managers want to know how you perform now, not 20 years ago.

Who you are is NOT who you will be, and preparing for your next career is time consuming – especially preparing your resume, which has been public service mission focused, and now needs to reflect a translation to revenue, e.g., budget operations, leadership and performance metrics, and focused on your ability to perform within private industry. Your resume will need to reflect your “Professional Reinvention”.

Writing your new resume requires a change in how you perceive yourself in the future. Change is always easier when you can adjust to it gradually – conduct research on the internet, contact retirees who have successfully transitioned to private industry and obtain their resume as a guide, outsource to a professional resume writer or service, do whatever it takes so you do not post a 20 + page resume on the internet and wait for someone to call and offer you a position. Your public service success was earned over time, your accomplishments never fell in your lap during your career, for most of you, neither will your future position in private industry – you need to make the case for hiring you and a translatable resume built with standard business focused components is a great start.

The standard components of the basic corporate resume include the following: Objective; Strengths/Overview; Experience; Security Clearances; Professional Certifications; Education; Professional Associations; Education; Contact Information; and, all within 2 pages that are aligned to the specific position you are applying.

Your new resume will become an “active document” which needs to be re-written for each position you apply. Whether outsourcing or writing yourself, read and dissect the position description you are applying for, and modify your resume to that position for that company.

If you want or need to outsource writing a resume that translates to private industry, there are many affordable resume writing services ($100-$500+) that specialize in aligning current skills for a particular industry. A well written resume is one of the keys to being competitive in the private industry marketplace and an expense that can often provide a significant return on investment. When choosing a resume writing service, choose one that has experience translating public service careers to private industry.

The exercise of writing a resume has value, as the process of self-assessment is valuable to you internalizing and visualizing yourself in the future. Using the below information as a guide, you can begin the process now:

  • 1-2 pages; Font style should be professional and easy to read and no smaller than 10 pt; Use bullet points rather than lengthy paragraphs
  • Use action words like prepared, managed, developed, monitored, presented, led
  • List accomplishments and responsibilities (in that order); (3-5 each for recent experience (last 5 years) and fewer as the experience gets more dated
    • Many experienced job seekers just list the title of their first jobs and provide little to no description because it was so long ago it’s no longer relevant.
  • ‪Be specific and quantify – (Use %’s, $’s and #’s) reporting relationships, budget dollars, number of people managed, etc.
  • Do not include salary information or references on a resume
  • Be positive – Do not include any negative statements on the resume
  • Education – School Location Major; no graduation dates
  • Certifications and Memberships (as applicable)

Remember to Stay Focused + Ask for Help – you did both of those in the time frame you were applying and interviewing to become a public service professional – well, it’s back and the key to your success. Good Luck!

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