Marlene Cole Resume building workshop


Resumes have come a long way since the typewriter was used to create this important career document. No longer a list of qualifications and work history, your resume is a strategic ‘marketing tool’ to sell your skills and experience above other equally qualified applicants in this competitive employment market.

As one of Soldier On’s Pathways Officers, Marlene Cole has written resumes for 15 years and won three international resume awards; she believes ‘your resume has one job – one job only – and that’s not to get a job. Your resume’s job is to get an interview.” Today Marlene shares 5 tips to create a winning resume: 


Before starting your resume, it’s important to unpack all those stories you want to share at interview. Think about different roles you have had, times when you were promoted, improved systems, or were involved in large projects… paint a picture of what makes you different to others who have the same qualifications. 

“Your passions, hobbies, unpaid work and volunteering stories are perfect for changing careers – it’s not just about paid work, plus the process of writing your stories down helps with gaining career clarity.”  


Once you find your perfect role or company you want to work for, do the research. Use job boards to find similar roles and position descriptions to gather keywords. Your resume needs to incorporate industry lingo and technical language, especially if you are changing careers or moving into civilian roles. 

“Infantry soldiers transitioned to Safety Advisor roles shared injury/emergency response stories and a love of rebuilding cars lead to Automotive Retail, through to a RAAF technician sharing volunteer firefighting work.”


The resume’s first half of the front page is prime real estate – don’t start with your education, or even your qualifications. Title your resume with the job you are applying for instead of ‘Career Summary’ or ‘Objective’ and hook them in with the benefits of ‘why you’ tied into their vacant role needs. 

“The first section of your resume needs to be written last – bring in the job ad’s key needs, how you match and what makes you different – never be afraid to pick up the phone and ring them for more information.”    


With so many differing opinions on resume layout/format, it’s important for the reader to scan and find information easily. Keep in mind, you won’t stand out from the crowd with a MS Word template. Depending on the role, a little bit of colour works in headings and borders; make sure the font size/style is consistent; tabs are set correctly; and remove tables/text boxes. 

“Most professional resumes should be 2-3 pages, focusing on the last 10 years of employment – it will come down to career story relevance and sometimes, the application process stipulated by the organisation.”    


We’re all human, be aware of common ‘spellcheck’ mistakes such as ‘manger’ instead of ‘manager’ or ‘roll’ instead of ‘role’. A fresh set of eyes is always valuable, and our Soldier On Pathways Officers can help with this. 

At the end of the day, your resume is not the ‘be all and end all’ but it does play a role in transitioning and with new postings – you may only get one chance at that dream job or promotion – our Pathways team are here to support you with your next career step.  


If you’re serving or ex-serving, or a family member of someone who is, contact Soldier On’s Pathways team to find out more about the Pathways Program and the free employment and education support available to you. Email or call 1300 620 380 and ask to be put through to your local Pathways Officer. 

Written by Soldier On Pathways Officer, Marlene Cole.

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