Season 4 Episode 165: Five Things Your Resume Should Contain with Lori Norris

On this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast, we get back to the basics with best practices for crafting a resume. Certified resume writer and career coach, Lori Norris, shares 5 elements that a resume must contain as well as the role that AI can play during the job search process.


  1. Focus. Every resume, from the very first line, must clearly present a focus. There is no such thing as an effective generic resume. A resume that tries to appeal to everyone appeals to no one. Many transitioning veterans mistakenly believe the first thing they should do is write their resume. Finding your focus is the priority. If you start your transition 18-24 months out, then take the first 6 months to research and conduct informational interviews to determine your focus. Informational interviews are invaluable as they will help you start to translate your military skills into civilian terms. After you’ve gathered intel and feel confident with the skills that you need to showcase for your career field, then start crafting a tailored resume. Remember, the focus of your career drives everything in your military transition job search efforts. A targeted resume will set you apart from the crowd, especially in a tough job market. The resume is about where you’re going, not where you’ve been.


  1. Your Unique Value. Employers want to know how you are going to make them money or save them money. How are you going to earn the salary that they are going to pay you? Translate your skills to show the employer how you are going to make them money and/or save them money. It’s impossible to showcase your unique value without having a focus. Your resume is not about you. It’s about what you can do for the organization.


  1. Measurable Accomplishments. Use metrics and numbers to give the reader scope. Numbers also help to break up words and help the reader to continue absorbing the information on your resume. Numbers help to keep the eye engaged.


  1. Translated Terminology. Most people reading your resume will not speak military. Even if the recruiter works with veterans, they may not understand the nuances of terminology in all the different military branches. Make the effort to explain what you do. Translating military terminology also shows the company you are willing and ready to change and adapt to the civilian sector. Help the reader see the value of your military experience by translating military terminology.


  1. Examples and Stories. A resume is not a job description or a list of all the things you have ever done. It’s a narrative that explains your accomplishments and the improvements that you made for your previous employer. Give examples of your skills and abilities. Thinking through stories also helps you prepare for the interview process.


AI should be used as a tool. It is not a replacement for writing a tailored resume in your voice. AI’s content was first created by scanning the internet. As we all know, information found on the internet is not always factual. Use AI as an assistant when conducting research.


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Are You Struggling to Write Your Resume?

I created the Veteran Resume Self-inspection Checklist to lessen the resume writing struggle for veterans. This 11-item checklist will educate you in resume best practices while giving veterans a guide to assess their resume and determine if it's ready to send to  employers. 

Download Your Checklist Here