Fifteen Ways to Create a Better Entry-level Resume

You need to have an attention-grabbing resume that is easy to read and straight to the point.

I have no problem with the Oakland Raiders. But what if the person reading your resume is a 49'er fan and hates the Raiders? Or what if you are a female on the oral panel reviewing resumes and you see a I know we're not supposed to be biased, but can you blame them if they are? Also, for those of you with e-mail accounts: if you have a member profile, I would suggest reviewing it to make sure you would not be ashamed if a fire chief that was looking to hire you saw that profile. I make the EMT students at the college provide a resume to me and every now and then, I go check to see if they have a member profile, and there are always a few students that list things that would probably be found to be "unprofessional."

13. Don't list hobbies on your resume. You're not getting hired for your hobbies - you're getting hired for your knowledge, skills, and abilities (in addition to how well you perform throughout the testing process). Nothing says you can't talk about them during the interview, go ahead. To me it is a waste of space on your resume. Also, what might be a "cool" hobby to you (snowboarding, bungee-jumping, motorcycling, jet skiing, etc.) might not be so "cool" to the chief officer reviewing your resume.

Getting back to subjectivity - every fire department has probably experienced folks getting injured off-duty doing some of those "cool" things. The last thing we need is another injury that is just waiting to happen. Chief Officers are usually trained or educated in risk management concepts. Let me see, this candidate likes to jump from planes, race fast vehicles, etc... If they take risks off duty, they might do them on duty..... Don't let people's minds wander - they will go places you don't want them to go.

14. Have somebody else take a look at your resume to proofread it for errors or things that just don't make sense. Remember when you've been staring at your "masterpiece" for a while, changing things, adding things, etc., you are going to get tunnel vision and after a while, you wouldn't even be able to realize you had misspelled your name. Trust me, been there, done that, got the t-shirt. One misspelled word can be enough to have the person reading it convinced that you don't care about the way you present yourself.

15. Last, but not least, make a copy of every resume you ever turn in. You should be making a copy of everything you turn in to a department (application, resume, etc.) and keeping it in a file. Other relevant items to keep are the initial job flyer and any information you obtained in the process. Keeping a copy of your resume can jog your memory when you get that interview four years later (I was actually called by a department I had tested with four years prior, to see if I wanted to be considered for employment). I didn't go to the interview because I had already been hired in a "dream department." Imagine if I had gone to that interview and they had asked me "What have you done since the time you turned in the original application?" If I hadn't kept a copy of the application, I would have looked pretty stupid. If I had kept copies, I could have been able to say with confidence "Look what I have done since then," to show my motivation and drive towards becoming a firefighter.


That is about all I have to offer in regards to producing the best resume you can. Use what you feel might benefit you. That first 30 seconds or so when you walk through the door to greet the oral interview panel are some of the most valuable seconds you will ever have to make a first impression. Already having produced a quality resume prior to the interview (and having turned it in with your application) will help set the stage for your entrance into the room since the interview panel usually reviews your application and resume prior to interviewing you. It will also start you out on a good note, thus leaving a positive first impression. Even if you turn in your first resume at the time of oral interview when you walk in the door, or you provide an updated resume at this time, it is still counted as part of your "first impression time."

The bottom line is that you always need to have a resume ready to go at any given time. Keep it on your computer, backed up on disc, so that you can change the objective for every test you take, and be able to easily add the achievements you have accomplished since the last time you updated the resume.

Just remember -- you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!

  • See author Steve Prziborowski Live at Firehouse World! Quinn will be presenting "Responsibilities of the First-Due Company Officer" and "How to Excel at Promotional Exams - The Fireground Simulation Exercise" at Firehouse World in San Diego, Feb. 28 - March 4.