Expert Strategies for Crafting A Cleared Resume That Gets Results

Posted by Ashley Jones
cleared resume

In a competitive cleared job market, writing a standout resume is not just a nice-to-have—it’s a necessity. Recruiters sift through numerous resumes, making it crucial for yours to capture attention swiftly and effectively.

In this roundup of top resume tips, we delve deeply into the insights shared by seasoned recruitment professionals featured on our Security Cleared Jobs: Who’s Hiring & How podcast, offering you a guide to create a compelling cleared resume that truly shines.

Understanding How Big the Resume Pile Is

Why is perfecting your cleared resume so important? The reality is, recruiters like Mike Barnum from Raytheon wade through a large amount of resumes each day. Imagine your resume as a single drop in a raging river of applicants, each vying for attention. Mike’s job openings can easily garner 20 to 30 applicants each, leading him to sift through dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes on a regular basis.

“On a good day, I look at a minimum of 40 to 50 resumes. On a busy day where I’m up late burning the midnight oil, I’m probably looking at 100 to 200 resumes,” says Mike. “I always hear this stat…A recruiter only looks at a resume for 10 to 15 seconds. And honestly in some cases, I’m not afraid to say that’s true.”

To ensure your cleared resume doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, it’s imperative that it’s in tip top shape. On a first pass, recruiters often scan over your resume at lightning speed. No matter how impressive your skills and experience might be, you only have a matter of seconds to sell yourself as a qualified candidate to the reader.

Recruiters like Mike are looking for specific things in your resume. If they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly, odds are they’ll be on to the next resume in the hopper.

“If you have a clearance – big one to anyone listening – list it on your resume,” urges Mike. “Ctrl F is a very powerful tool when I’ve got a couple hundred resumes to go through.”

Listen to Mike’s podcast episode here >>

Less Is More

You’ve likely heard that a resume should be one to two pages. That’s typically good advice for most job seekers, because it forces you to craft a purposeful resume. Your prospective employer doesn’t need to read about a job you had 20 years ago, or a job unrelated to what you want to do next. They want to see what’s most relevant, and often, recent.

Dr. Jim Rebesco, CEO of Striveworks, advocates for a focused approach in resume writing. A broad resume that reads like a biography often gets lost in the crowd. Jim’s advice centers on making your resume purposeful and tailored to what you’re best at.

We always have this tendency to think more is better,” says Jim. “And the challenge you run into with resumes is, when you do that, it becomes very hard for someone looking at it to immediately suss out what your strength is…What are the one or two things that you really want to hang your hat on? What makes you truly world class?

It can be hard to embrace a less is more approach when writing your resume. Keep these tips in mind to help you strategically focus your cleared resume:

  • Identify Your Passion: Reflect on your career goals and the roles that genuinely excite you. Understanding your passion and what you want to do next is the first step towards crafting a focused resume.
  • Highlight Your Expertise: Instead of presenting a laundry list of skills, focus on your key strengths. Make it clear what you excel at and what you are passionate about.
  • Showcase Relevant Experience: Prioritize relevant experiences and achievements related to your desired role. The spotlight should be on experiences that directly align with the job you’re applying for, so get familiar with the job description as you review your resume for revisions.

Listen to Jim’s podcast episode here >>

Format with Attention to Detail

No matter what information you include in your cleared resume, it won’t likely be read if your formatting is a mess. National laboratory recruiter, Meg Duba, sheds light on the importance of creating resumes that are visually appealing and easy to navigate.

I need small, bite-sized bullets that have a little bit of space in between them, because of the way my eye moves,” explains Meg. “I’m able to psychologically comprehend and break down the information a little bit easier than the big paragraph resumes.”

Keep these formatting tips in mind as you write and review your cleared resume:

  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in formatting elements like font style, size, and the type of bullet points used throughout your resume. Other than your name perhaps being a larger font size, everything else should be the same size, and not too small. Try to stick with a standard 12 point font if possible.
  • Whitespace: Don’t squeeze everything but the kitchen sink into your resume. Embrace whitespace. Opt for bullet points over paragraphs and include line breaks where possible to make it easier for the eye to track.
  • Professional: Keep your colors and font choices professional. You don’t need color to stand out. Stick to black text and a standard font like Times or Arial.

In addition to paying attention to formatting, Meg also urges job seekers to proofread.

“I see lots of misspellings on resumes,” shares Meg. “It’s a tiny thing, but if it’s a position that requires lots of attention to detail, it kind of speaks volumes if the attention to detail was not paid on the actual resume…And as crazy as this sounds, make sure that the document you’re uploading is your resume,” warns Meg. “I’ve seen some crazy documents come through that are not actually resumes.”

Listen to Meg’s podcast episode with INL here >>

Tailor Your Resume with Keywords

Another resume insight that is perhaps one of the most important of all is tailoring your resume. You might think it’s more time efficient to simply use one perfected version of your resume, but Tony Gilbert from Raytheon will advise you otherwise.

You have to tailor your resume to every job you apply to,” shares Tony. “You’re better off applying for five jobs with a specific, tailored resume to the basic qualifications or basic requirements of the job, then applying to 100 jobs with a general resume.”

But why is that the case? Tony explains that large companies might have as many as 500 resumes to consider for one position. He simply doesn’t have the time to get through that many manually.

“I’m gonna start putting keyword searches into our applicant tracking system (ATS),” says Tony. “If there’s a qualification for a bachelor’s degree, I’m gonna put ‘bachelors,’ and it’s going to narrow from 500 to 100. And then I’m going to keep putting more qualifications until I have my top five or 10. And then I’m going to look at their resumes and I’m going to do a recruiter screen. But if you’re missing one of the major qualifications, because you just didn’t know or you’re just too lazy to tailor your resume, then you could have missed out on the perfect opportunity.”

Tailoring your resume doesn’t mean you’re writing a new version from scratch each time. You’re just tweaking it. Look at the job description and highlight the key qualifications the recruiter or ATS will likely be filtering with. Are those reflected on your resume? Use the exact language used in the job posting, not a synonym or acronym.

Listen to Tony’s podcast episode here >>

A+B=C Formula

You know you need to tailor your resume and format it appropriately with whitespace and bullet points. But what goes into those bullet points? Dee Brown of CNA simplifies things down to a science:

“A+B=C,” states Dee. “It’s simple as this. (a) This is what I did. (b) This is how I did it. (c) This is the implication or the results of my work. So if you follow that pattern of what you did, how you did it, and the results, you will be able to really put together a great resume.”

Accomplishment statements like these can transform an ordinary resume into an impactful narrative that showcases your value as a candidate.

“A lot of people think it’s about putting your day-to-day duties and responsibilities,” shares Dee. “We want to know, how are you able to elevate the role that you were last in, and also how you’re able to elevate the next role that you’re in.”

Keep these tips in mind as you work on your accomplishment statements:

  • Use Action Words: Begin each bullet point with action verbs. Action words like “improved,” “developed,” or “won” show employer’s what you’re capable of, rather than what you were merely responsible for.
  • Skip Subjective Phrases: Don’t waste precious space on subjective filler and fluff like “results-driven” or “detail-oriented.”
  • Include Quantifiable Achievements: Use numbers to quantify your achievements. Whether it’s sales figures, project completion rates, or cost savings, numerical data adds credibility.

Listen to Dee’s podcast episode here >>

By incorporating the insights shared by these seasoned recruitment professionals, your resume stands to become a powerful cleared job search tool. Start crafting your success story today.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

    View all posts
This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 12:41 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation