Getting an online degree in fire science is a smart investment if you wish to advance your career. But in order to be considered for the job you want, you also need an outstanding resume. In the time it takes a potential employer to look it over — which is often less than a minute — your resume needs to make a good enough impression that any hiring manager will want to bring you in for an interview.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, "prospective firefighters will likely face strong competition for jobs." For leadership positions, such as fire chief, the field of applicants is even more competitive.
Here are some tips to help you write a resume that will make you an outstanding candidate to climb up the ladder.
Be Strategic about Resume Content
Your resume is so much more than just a list of work experience; it can convey accomplishments, motivations, and personality traits that make you stand out from the crowd. Take advantage of the opportunity to show hiring managers what makes you uniquely qualified for a particular job.
To start, pay close attention to the job description. What particular knowledge and skills are required for the position? Identify key buzzwords and use them in your resume. When describing your experience, stick to simple language and use “strong, compelling action verbs that will catch hiring managers’ eyes.”
For example, if you are applying for a fire chief position and the job posting calls for “the ability to oversee and implement successful fire investigations and analysis,” your resume should emphasize the successful outcome of your investigations at previous positions, as well as any completed coursework in fire investigation and analysis.
Keep in mind that you should also use similar language and examples during the interview process. Everything should align: a job description, a resume and interview answers should all have the same fire service industry-related keywords.
Your resume should include:
- Contact Information – At the very least, include your name, address, phone number and email so you can be easily reached.
- Summary – This is a concise statement (two to three sentences long) that explains who you are, what you do, and how you do it, in relation to the position for which you are applying. It should include useful information specific to your background, experience, and objectives instead of generalities.
- Experience – As you list your work experience, consider writing a short description for each that highlights key accomplishments and specific duties mentioned in the job description.
- Education – Unless you already completed your bachelor’s in fire science, include your high school diploma, but it is not necessary to list your graduation date. If you did not graduate but completed coursework, be sure to mention it; you can list course titles from a fire science degree program that relate to the job description.
- Certifications & Training – There is no need to include detailed descriptions, but try to list these in order of importance.
- Awards & Recognition – List those most relevant to the position for which you're applying first; if you do not have anything for this section, leave it out altogether.
- Skills & Interests – This is where you can highlight the personality traits and abilities that make you uniquely qualified for the position. Mentioning recreational activities and volunteer work in this section not only makes you appear well rounded but also creates the potential for personal connection.
Make a Good First Impression
Keep in mind that this is no time to be modest; the purpose of a resume is to (humbly) show off. That doesn't mean, however, that you should exaggerate your experience or overshare. Be honest, keep the tone formal and respectful, and avoid writing in the first or third person.
While the information you share in your resume is key, the way you format it is equally important. Try to immediately draw the reader's eye to the most critical information, such as relevant skills and experience, by putting it toward the top. Also, if you can, try to make your resume fit on one page.
Lastly, ensure your resume is well written. Use spellcheck and a grammar checker to avoid typos and errors. Before you submit it, have a friend or relative review your resume for mistakes, which can make you seem sloppy or careless.
Enrolling in Anna Maria College's Online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science can give you an advantage over other job applicants. For more information, contact us today at 877-265-3201 or visit online.annamaria.edu/fire-science.
- “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Firefighters.” Bls.gov. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/firefighters.htm (accessed July 22, 2016).
- “185 powerful verbs that will make your resume awesome.” TheMuse.com. https://www.themuse.com/advice/185-powerful-verbs-that-will-make-your-resume-awesome (accessed August 5, 2016).