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Colonel gives deployers tips for getting in the door to civilian jobs

  • Published
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Linda Sparks was looking to take the next step in her career as a federal civilian employee when she returned from a six-month Air Force Reserve deployment to Iraq, she said.

She was among those who took a federal job résumé writing class at a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event July 19-21 to learn more about the federal job hiring process. Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments through a series of national events.

As a civilian, Sparks works as a management analyst at Air Force Materiel Command headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. As a reservist, she has two roles as the chief enlisted manager of the Joint Transportation Reserve Unit and the 554th Reserve Support Squadron, both at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

“I did not realize the way a résumé should look, and I didn’t realize what would get me in the door,” Sparks said. “The federal résumé writing class helped me figure out that my résumé is why I’m not getting referred for positions.”

Four briefings regarding résumé writing were available to reservists. Each was led by Col. Don Wren, commander of the 910th Mission Support Group at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.

“The way we teach résumé writing makes it clear and concise,” he said. “I have trained well over 700 people on this. Before, they weren’t making the certificates, and after they adopt the tools we give them, they are making the certificates.”

Wren said reservists often underestimate the power of their military experience when it comes to including it in their résumé when applying for federal jobs. Airmen may not know to classify their experience or even their volunteer experience. Both types of experience can be accounted for in a résumé which could mean the difference in being selected for a federal job, he said.

“There’s a big misperception that résumés are graded by a computer, but in reality it’s a real person reading it,” Wren said. “You have to make your résumé mean something to a person rather than an algorithm.”

Wren was the Reserve MSG commander at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., when it transferred to Army control and had to figure out how to help reservists obtain new assignments. He said he quickly discovered they needed help with the first step: the résumé.

“It’s really important because people were writing résumés that are either not enough information or way too much information,” Wren said. “Either way, they weren’t getting the results they needed.”

He continues to help people after Yellow Ribbon events via emails and phone calls.

“My purpose is helping them get to where they need to be,” Wren said. “Wherever you want to be is where I want to help get you. It’s very rewarding for me.”

Master Sgt. David Sharpe, a materiel management clerk for the 315th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, recently returned from a 6-month deployment and attended the class to see what it offered. He is a cook as a civilian and is looking to join the civilian workforce since he is approaching the end of his military career after 33 years. He applied for about 10 federal positions long ago.

“I think I heard back from one job, and that’s been about a decade,” Sharpe said. “Several years ago when I applied, there wasn’t anyone who taught this. You just went and applied for the job. The biggest takeaway is that résumé writing is much different when applying for a federal job. I learned how to (specify) words in the job requirements into the résumé so that my resume meets the job description.”

Sharpe grew up in Indiana and later moved to Charleston. He served on active duty for four years before leaving the service and getting his bachelor’s degree, and ultimately joining the Air Force Reserve.

Sharpe brought his parents to the St. Louis event, his third time participating in Yellow Ribbon.

“It’s a chance to get away a little bit and bring my parents to do something special,” he said. “I’m about to retire so it was nice to get to talk to the helping agencies about the next step.”

Each year, more than 7,000 Reserve Citizen Airmen and those closest to them learn about education benefits, health care, retirement information and more at Yellow Ribbon events.