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Thread: Resumes for inexperienced firefighters, what do you include on yours?

  1. #1
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    Nov 2013

    Question Resumes for inexperienced firefighters, what do you include on yours?

    Hey folks,

    I'm a 27 year old with a BA looking to move into the fire service as a career. I'm presently an EMT-B and finishing Fire1 in 2 weeks. I have hazmat ops, rescue site ops, and EVOC, and I've got a short list of courses I'll be taking next year, including paramedic.

    I know paramedic changes the game and makes me very hireable, but until then I'm looking at semi-related jobs like IFT EMS, and I'm not going to turn down a chance to apply into the career service if one turns up. I ultimately want to be a Fire Medic / HazMat Medic, but I ain't getting any younger, so getting into the career department is a priority.

    When I'm making a resume that wants to be somewhat fire-specific, should I omit qualifications and certifications from other fields? I've worked for several years as a pharmacy technician and I'm a certified pharmacy technician. I presently work at a psychiatric hospital and so I'm certified in crisis intervention and physical non-violent restraint techniques as well as some other odds and ends.

    In the rest of the world, I'd include those sort of "as related." I'd probably not emphasize that I can hold a dude safely if I was applying back into pharmacy. I'd probably include my CPhT regardless, because it's a certification that demonstrates learning etc etc etc.

    I'm not sure what to include for fire service though. I am a volunteer, but like I said, I'm green as heck and just finishing Fire 1, so I don't have a lot of fire-specific experience to show.

    Basically, I'm wanting to front-load fire and general important information (my degree) on this thing so as not to send the interviewers on a chase for the relevant info, but I also don't want to include a bunch of rubbish.

  2. #2
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    FyredUp's Avatar
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    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    My advice is while documenting your ems and fire training and experience you should also document other education and work experience. With a limited fire background they will look to see your work history. Have you bounced from job to job with no long term work history?
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Port Royal, SC


    Many departments, regardless of your background, will send you through their recruit school. So they will train you to be a firefighter the way they want you to be. Big thing is work related experience and what type of person are you. Do you have a good work history, have you worked as a team before, worked in high pressure situations, can you be taught, have you held positions of trust, etc. Good luck to you it's a great career!

  4. #4
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    Mar 2003


    The best way to "Frontload" your resume is to actually do things that are important toward your career. You mentioned IFT (Interfacility transport), while this does get you some hands on experience, I would much rather see you working as an EMT running first in 911 calls. You will gain so much more experience than simply transporting grandma to and from her doctor's appointment. Ideally, you can get a job in a 1 plus one system (EMT driving a paramedic).

    Other things I like to see on a resume are opportunities where you have been put in a leadership role such as field training officer, shift supervisor at McDonalds et. Other things I like to see are positions where you work(ed) with your hands learning mechanical aptitude such as maintenance and/or handy man.

    Red flags on a resume are multiple jobs. This indicates someone who MAY have a poor work history or someone who MAY have trouble getting along. Of course there are plenty of exceptions such as moving to a higher paying job, getting laid off, or simply moving on.

    The following is a chapter excerpt from my book The Aspiring Firefighter's Two Year Plan that goes into much more detail about the importance of resumes.

    Many firefighter candidates believe that their resume doesn’t have to be perfect. Some feel as if they can explain themselves in the interview: “My resume doesn’t have to be perfect; I’ll worry about it if they ask me.”

    In most testing processes, a resume is submitted with the initial application. By the time a candidate reaches the oral interview, the panel has already reviewed the application and attached resume. If there are any discrepancies, the evaluators will circle them and ask the candidate during the interview.
    Inconsistencies can include a typographical error, a gap in employment or a lack of follow through in completing a degree.

    Whichever the case, your resume is a statement of who you are that arrives long before you do.
    Oral interviews are usually scheduled in rapid succession. As a result, the interviewers do not have a lot of time to extract information from the resume. Studies show that the average interviewer spends 8-15 seconds reviewing a resume. If your resume is not clear and concise, it will be of no value since
    the reader will not dig deeply for information.

    Standard fire department resumes should be kept to one page. Some departments will allow two pages, but these seem to be in the minority. Consequently, the resume must be clear and concise and spell out your accomplishments. If all of your “gold” is buried, the board will not discover it. Before putting down a single word, take a few moments to outline your accomplishments. Decide what your best accomplishments are and build around them.

    Many of the candidates we encounter are working professionals who have decided on a career change. The resume that worked to get them a job as a teacher, computer programmer or stockbroker does not work for the fire department. Fire departments are not looking for resumes loaded with
    “credentials” that do not apply to the job. We are not impressed if you are proficient on Java Script or Excel spread sheets. Are these helpful? Well, technically yes, but we would rather see EMT, fire science courses and practical hands on experience.

    Common mistakes these professionals make is taking up too much space on the descriptions of their job duties. We really are not interested in the fact that you were part of a technical team which incorporated new software into the computer network or that you were in charge of adding the food coloring
    to the drink dispenser at the fast food restaurant. My suggestion is to keep the job descriptions brief. If we want to know more, we will ask you. Use the valuable space listing items related to the job of a firefighter.

    Resumes should be created using clear, concise language describing tangible, no-nonsense skills: competent in Vertical Ventilation, able to converse in Spanish…. Always steer clear of fluff words and phrases like the following: self-motivated, excellent track record and honest. That’s up to the panel to

    Another thing to avoid putting on a fire department resume is “References available upon request.” If you are going to be selected to continue in the employment process, you will be asked to provide them. Besides, nobody ever puts anyone down as a reference who would say something negative about
    him or her. In other words, references really don’t add much to the package. Email addresses aren’t worth the space they take on the resume. This is particularly true if your personal email address is unconventional or “cute.” Leave them off the page. Besides, email addresses change like the weather
    and your application will be on file for the life of the list, which often exceeds four years. If the fire department needs to contact you, they have your phone number and address.

    If you are like many of the applicants who are trying to “squeeze” in all of their related coursework and certificates, you may try organizing your achievements in two or three columns instead of listing them in a single column. This allows you to get the maximum usage out of each line.

    Evaluate the relevancy of your early experience. Taking a first aid and CPR course is great, but it loses its importance once you have completed an EMT course. In fact, if it is still in place the reader gets the impression you are trying to “fluff” up your resume.

    A clean, clear and concise resume can be designed on your personal computer using a resume program. Once the basic template has been designed, the user is able to add or delete information with ease. In addition, the resume may be customized to include the name of the department you
    are applying for.

    If you are having difficulty designing your resume, enlist the services of a friend. If this is not possible, professional resume writers can be located in the phone book. The downside of having your resume professionally done is that each time you want to add a new class or accomplishment, you have to pay
    for it. It is also costly to tailor it each time you apply for a different department. A solution may be to have a professional resume writer create a template and provide you with a disc that you can save in your computer. This would allow you to make future modifications without incurring further expense.

    Always proofread your resume. Once you are finished with it, give it to a friend or two. It is very difficult to proofread your own material. You know what it should say and overlook the errors.
    Last edited by paulLepore; 01-05-2014 at 11:41 AM.
    ffbam24, EMAGUY, FF14 and 1 others like this.
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief

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