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CAREER RESCUE Strengthen first responder resume using some key skills

October 7, 2018

First responders cover a wide range of professionals including firefighters, policemen and paramedics, who all must perform under pressure while remaining calm in emergencies, two key areas that are crucial, yet most will overlook these skills when putting together their resumes.

Even though a resume is just one thing in your job search toolbox, none perhaps carry the significance of making a good first impression. You have approximately six seconds to make an impact on the reader and as a first responder, your goal is to produce a resume that will generate attention by demonstrating your distinctive qualities, contributions and key skills.

In the past, first responders might have counted on listing job duties in lieu of presenting key skills, but the new resume philosophy gives you more freedom to adapt to a changing marketplace. Today’s resumes are more like unique marketing tools that connect to the employer’s needs while presenting your qualifications.

Think of your resume as a marketing sheet. Much like a product description that points out the benefits to a buyer, your resume serves to highlight your capabilities and attributes.

The greatest challenge a first responder might face is overcoming the fear of bragging. Most first responders typically avoid taking personal credit and would rather focus on helping others during times of crisis. Their humble mindset often leads them to downplaying their talents by listing job duties instead of key skills.

Communication skills are an absolute must for first responders, and a resume gives you the opportunity to present your experience and clearly outline your qualifications. You can strengthen you resume by choosing your words carefully; each word is important when forming an impression. For example, instead of using, “Responsible for…” to showcase your knowledge, consider using action words like “identifying problems” or “evaluating options….”

To compete in a thriving job market where opportunities to expand your career are prevalent, you must structure your experience in an interesting way that captures a peotential employer’s attention. The best way to start is by identifying your most relevant skills, abilities and knowledge.

First responders are a talented group of professionals who spend countless hours acquiring certifications and qualifications to handle emergency situations. Including your certifications and educational requirements in your resume is a must, but never underestimate what makes you successful in your first responder role.

Here are some of the top key skills first responders should mention in their resume: active listening, problem solving, training, monitoring, coordinating, time management, communication, decision-making and evaluating.

Think of your resume as a fluid document, changing as new options come your way.

Kimberly Thompson is a board-certified counselor. Send questions to kim@careerrescue.com or Houston Chronicle, P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/careerrescue.

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