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My resume has received 43 rejections in the past ten weeks


Christopher Patterson Louisville, KY

Resume is crafted by my career coach from the former KentuckyKnox organization that is now USACares. The resume is revised to fit the position requirements but has not landed any interview requests. Each application included a cover letter that compared my strengths with the position requirements.

9 April 2019 31 replies Resumes & Cover Letters



Bernard Agrest Tulsa, OK

Hi Christopher,

I hope you’re well! First off, thank you very much for your service.

I’m sorry to hear about your experience, and hopefully I can offer some advice that will make your search a little easier!

1. Make sure that your resume doesn’t have unnecessary information on it.
2. Make sure that you have action verbs (led, coordinated, etc) in your bullet points.
3. Quantify your experiences and results as often as you can. Hard numbers and results always read better to hiring managers.
4. Make sure that your resume doesn’t have military jargon in it - corporate recruiters and hiring managers don’t understand it, and won’t spend the time to try to figure it out.
5. Try to keep your resume to one page. I know that it isn’t easy to condense 30 years of service into 1 page, but recruiters and hiring managers rarely spend more than a minute looking through resumes, and I know that oftentimes they won't look at more than the first page.

I would also encourage you to reach out to employees at the companies you’re applying to, to connect with them and discus the particular position you’re applying for. You can use ACP AdvisorNet's Community page, or LinkedIn to target these companies and identify employees.

They can often provide you perspective on how to tailor the resume, and the cover letter. And, if they’re former service themselves, they can provide additional perspective on how they successfully made that transition.

I’m also including a few resources on resume/cover letter writing below, which I hope are helpful:

Please feel free to reach out if there’s anything I can do, and I wish you luck in your search!



10 April 2019 Helpful answer


Steven Mathews Spring, TX

I have a format written into a memo that guides you through a process to create a Top 1% Resume. However, it will take you 3-4 hours to create the resume. If you are not willing to expend that much effort, do not respond. There are several dozen people like you who have made the effort and typically get calls for interviews within 24-72 hours. Or, you can continue your current course and obtain some kind of position around 9 months from now.

21 April 2019 Helpful answer


Rex Conger Gilbert, SC

I am sorry that has been your experience.

I hate to assume that your resume is not supporting your cover letter (and I believe both must be adjusted for each new application) but unless your qualifications do not meet the job basic requirements - there appears to be no other explanation.

I will be glad to review your latest failed attempt by looking at the position description (advertisement) and your cover letter and resume submitted and make my suggestions.

While you are waiting - I suggest you remain as active as possible on linkedIn trying to use your current network to find new potential contacts who may have "inside" information regarding opportunities.


10 April 2019 Helpful answer


Carl Warren Holland, OH

I am sorry you are being rejected. I found that it may take extra time, but try making your resume job specific. There are often keywords in the responsibilities or job description that the system picks up on just to pull your resume. Good luck and keep your head up something will break soon.

6 June 2019 Helpful answer


Denise Kalm Walnut Creek, CA

It's probably not your resume, unless you are applying directly to a person. If you are submitting online, you are entering one of 5 ATS' - Application Tracking Systems. Their goal is to kick out as many people as possible. The first step is looking for any excuse to bounce you. If you survive this, then they score your application (not your resume) and HR will only invite a few to come in for the HR interview. Odds are lousy. Instead, network your way in. You need to find 1st and 2nd contacts on LinkedIn who can get your great res and cover letter to a hiring manager. Even strangers will do this if you look good; they usually get some money for a successful hire. Give it a try - this is just a summary of my networking advice, but most people just aren't getting past the ATS.

4 June 2019 Helpful answer


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Christopher, my guess is that you don't have a resume problem rather an access problem. I assume your intent is to get an interview. If you are not networking start. Speak to anyone who will listen about what you want to do. However, there is a right way to do this. Join a networking event. I belong to Network After Dark. I believe they are national in scope and run events across the country. It is very inexpensive to join. The problem most people have when trying to meet new people is they believe they have to come across as an interesting person. Shift your strategy and come across as an interested person. Ask that person what they do? Why? What have been their most gratifying experiences? People love to talk about themselves, let them.

Eventually this will lead to them asking you what you do? You never know when you are going to meet that "right" person. Let me give you an example. My son in law was the number one sales person in the US for a company that was headquartered in Paris. A corporate decision was made to close down US operations. For the next six months my son in law was taking interviews as he was looking for a $250,000++ opportunity.
One day he was having lunch and using the techniques I outlined above struck up a conversation with another gentleman. After a few minutes this man said to him,"I know a billionaire who could use a guy with your talents and track record." He set up the interview. To make a long story short my son in law joined the company, proved himself and five years later has a $500,000+ plus job and is now a partner.

The lessons are you need people who can introduce you to the right person. That is how the good opportunities happen. Stop rewriting your resume and start becoming a confident net worker.
One other example in case you think my son in law is unique. I was asked to mentor a 27 year old vet who was coming out. During the first four weeks of our relationship, I explained how to network to him. Two weeks later he was on vacation in Mexico with his wife. He followed my advice and struck up a conversation with a guy who turned out to a high level partner in one of the Big Four Accounting Firms. He offered him a position as a consultant. He started at $130,000 plus a $10,000 signing bonus.

I could go on but I can't remember the word resume being in either of the conversations. Best of luck.

3 June 2019 Helpful answer


Nancy Quartey Palo Alto, CA

Hi Christopher,
Have you considered taking your career into your own hands and starting your own business? It's easier than it may seem in the franchising world. Imagine not depending on someone else to see the value you bring, but believing in yourself and making things happen for your own benefit. Many people assume franchising is expensive or limited to fast-food. This is simply not the case. I'd be happy to talk to you more about it if you're interested to learn more. Send me a message and we can find a time to talk.
Nancy Quartey

23 April 2019 Helpful answer


Alan Santos Arlington, VA

Hi Christopher. Maybe we could brainstorm on ideas around how to capitalize on your professional network to make sure you get your resume in the hands of folks who really understand your skill set and value. Happy to chat with you regarding your experience and feel free to message me directly on the ACP site and maybe we can connect via phone.


Jordie Kern Amherst, MA

The resume is not the problem. It's your focus. Instead of spending all of your time and energy revising a piece a paper, go for coffee once a day with a professional in your field. Don't ask for a job -- ask for their advice and suggestions. Build relationships. That's what will get you hired. Within 30 days you'll have all the interviews you can handle. Most people will be honored to help you (starting w/ me! Call me anytime 914-469-9875).


Joshua Bastman Madison, AL

The struggle is real. I found my door into a company via LinkedIn, and not by using a connection of somebody important but by a guy I had never met in real life, who was in a webinar for Customs. I emailed him, he connected me to the Veteran recruiter to Northrop Grumman, and a week later had one interview per week, sometimes 2, and then a job offer.

I can assist you with Northrop. I can point you to Saab Defense US if you want to take a jab.

Congrats on retirement! Welcome to the team.


Patrick E Alcorn Arlington, TX

Self employment is a viable option. Join us at to learn how. Check out the FREE Boots to Business TAPS class near you:

No excuse:


Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

I see some excellent answers - advice here, so I'll start by just reinforcing action verbs, results, accomplishments, accomplishments, accomplishments! I think you're getting consistent advice so I'm hoping your resume now reflects that.

As with some many here, I'll be happy to review it -- and perhaps with a different POV -- mine is typically stronger than some. Plus consider this problem I've seen on too many resumes from vets with long careers:


Bridget Tally Lakeland, FL

A lot of companies have started to use software to weed through the massive amounts of applications they get. In turn, they often lose great candidates due to the parameters put into the search. I would suggest looking for keywords in the job posting and seeing if they are mirrored on the resume.


Lex Levin Ellicott City, MD


I'm happy to review your resume and advise. I'm a full-time professional resume writer specializing in working with Service Members transitioning to private sector or Federal jobs for the last ten years.

Please go to my website's Contact page to upload your resume and answer a few questions, and I'll review and write you back.

Best wishes,



Jim Rohrbach Evanston, IL

Hi Christopher! I've helped several ACP veterans with their search. Forward me your resume and we can set up a time to chat.


Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

I see some strong answers but I will add my willingness -- and a sometimes stronger take on what a strong resume should include -- to review your resume.


Andy Bergin Greenwich, CT

You've had good advice from a lot of smart people already. Let me take a different tack. Dump the resume. Build a brand instead. As a job-seeker, employers see your 30 years experience and they tune out. They can hire someone with 10 years experience at half the salary. I saw your LinkedIn profile - you've got a strong platform to build off of with Booz and the exemplary service record. Try pitching yourself as an independent operations consultant. Then they see 30 years experience and it oozes gravitas. As long as you're current with ops technologies and project management methodologies, your background tells a great story. Then you add value but don't add to headcount. A new approach and networking your way in versus applying your way in may be just the approach you need. My career ended after 28 years on Wall Street but my own business is now in it's 11th year. I realized no one would hire me at that stage so I didn't fight it - I built a new brand off my 28 years of experience. It may not be the answer for you but it might beat the heck out of having your resumes shredded by an anonymous Gen Xer. Contact me and we can game plan your approach if you want.


Erick Gonzalez Woodbridge, VA

Keep your hopes up Cristopher! You will land a job very soon.


Mike Salaka New York, NY

They said there is no discrimination against gender, race, ethnicity, age, etc. I felt same way never landed in a job that I wanted. Hard to get an interview; even after interview I received rejection letter left and right. I feel they check our background and make decision based on our profile like age gender etc. I gave up!


mike gordon

Chris I know this experience has been less then fun, but take it from me it happens. Back in the old hand mail resume days I received over 100 rejection letters, I have actually kept them as occasional motivation. Even in this digital age the personal touch still works, it's important to break through the crowd and actually try to talk with people. I like LinkedIn because it helps you personally contact people you might know at companies you're interested in. Feel free to reach out to me, at if I can help.


Denise Kalm Walnut Creek, CA

The problem is that the systems are designed to work against you, unless you network your way in. Likely it isn't the resume so much as your approach to job search. Look into bypassing automated systems by getting your resume directly in front of hiring managers thru employees at your desired company.


Phillip Batson Tacoma, WA


Let me start by saying thank you for volunteering to lead guys and gals like me for so long, it truly is a major accomplishment in itself. And secondly, I had some of the same issues that you speak of. As mentioned before, remove as much military jargon as humanly possible. This is especially true if you are applying for a position in an area that may not be so military friendly. It took me a while to understand that people that haven't been in or around the military much only understand that you served, you were in charge of people, and generalizations of equipment such as tanks, helicopters, bombs. And that's if they are friendly towards us. Don't come to Southern California if that is an issue. I had to translate everything militarily in my resume to civilian/corporate terms, leaving only that I was active army, and currently in the reserves on there, . Everything else was slick. This helped take me from receiving rejected resume notifications, to we'd like to interview you notifications. And as another also correctly previously stated, at your management level, there are a lot of places that prefer to hire a person from within that has been groomed and tailored to the higher positions. But, I believe that with networking, you can build that rapport with the right individuals to get in. Hopefully, this helps a little bit.


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Oops, HireHeroesUSA.ORG is one of the best organizations out their for resume and other job search material. I would hook up with them, you receive a dedicated person that will work with you to create documents that civilians want.


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

I took a peak at your LinkedIn account and your TAG line may need some tweaking, depending upon some research into positions. It is paramount that your TAG hits the keywords that match positions you wish to be called for. I am attaching an article on LinkedIn profiles, you may need to provide more value and less description of job duties. Personally I would drop the resume and letter. LinkedIn is used to network electronically by a short well written TAG line and a couple of accomplishments that show value-matching the market you are heading into. Once you receive an offer to submit the resume and cover 1) do some research into the company, or even the department-be very specific about how you feel you fit the organization or department, get down to accomplishments that may align with their corporate goals. 2) Make that resume into a TARGETED resume that matches that job posting-create value, be the person that could hit the ground running and has solved problems and brought value to all your roles.
I am not an IT person, but are you missing some certificates or a degree? I assume you picked up the other civilian jobs via networking, attempt to get back in touch with some of those folks. Outside of that, spend some time on Indeed looking at just job opening in your field-see what the requirements are-do you match up. Here is the article I spoke about, outside of value accomplishments your profile is pretty good. Your first jobs were with very military companies, maybe true civilian organizations are not understanding your value. Keep in mind only 0.5% of Americans will serve their country, and veterans in the hiring manager capacity will continue to drop, they thank you for your service, but do not understand your value? Speaking of that, thanks for your years of dedicated service and sacrifices. God Bless.


John Volpe Seaford, NY


All the responses offer interesting suggestions. Yes it’s critical to have a resume that is well written , concise and tailored to the position. However , employers receive thousand of resumes and having yours stand out is a crapshoot.

I think I concur with Sotir’s suggestion that networking is a more effective employment strategy. You need to network with other professionals, veterans and potential decision makers . You also need to learn as much about potential target industries and companies and identify and communicate with specific individuals who can assist you in your search .

Having more in-depth information about the company should help you determine where you will fit in best and how your experience and skills can benefit the company .

Good luck



Sotir Koev Washington, DC

Instead of sending resumes and cover letters, meet decision makers where you live, executives / officers / people who actually run the companies and can appreciate what you bring to the table. The resume/cover letters are just formalities then.


Po Wong Orlando, FL

Hi Christopher,
Thanks for your service!

Besides an appropriate Resume, are you applying the correct level of jobs? Most well run established companies have annual succession planning for their senior management positions (Director, VP….) It is difficult to get in from the outside unless one has a unique skills or network within the targeted company.

Understand initially it is very challenging for a senior military officer to accept a “lower” level job in the civilian world but the main idea is “Get in the door” and then have the opportunity to show your stuff! (witness many examples in my career). The current J&J CEO was a captain, West Point graduate, started as a sale representative. Today he manages one of the world’s top company.

Good luck!


Sam Hoffman Roslyn Heights, NY

Don't be discouraged, you need to send out about 50 a day if you are applying online, and expect it to take at least a month before you hear back from anyone.
There are other tricks you can try, message me direct if you want to hear more


William (Liam) Hickey Chicago, IL


For your situation, three possibilities stand out to me:

1) Most likely, your résumé needs more numbers. Most résumés I have ever seen don't have numbers (or enough numbers) in the bullets. Numbers are interesting, and you have to catch their interest. ($, %, etc.) I have an article on this to clarify. (See below.)
Numbers like percent increase or decrease, customer satisfaction ratings, budget amount and costs, size of your team, etc. help catch an employer's attention the most and show that you understand business. This is the one big change that will start getting you responses.


2) You may have typos (or inconsistencies). You may need a fresh pair of eyes to spot them for you. If you know someone really good with grammar and has an eye for detail, ask for a read-through.

3) Your résumé layout may be unreadable. If it hurts to look at your résumé, then people won't. If people don't see interesting information right away, then it gets passed over. In these cases, the content and experience don't matter.

If you would like another example, here is my own LinkedIn profile.


Liam Hickey


Ilka Farley Anna, OH

HI Christopher,

I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulties. Military skills and jargon can often be difficult to translate. It may be the case that your career advisor tried this and the skill sets did not match the exact civilian jobs.
I would focus on trying to identify the relatable skills rather than the job title. I had a couple of veterans resumes that had some very transferable skills however they did not fit the civilian jobs they were seeking.


Scott Gagnon Winthrop, MA

Hi Christopher, My employer, Navisite, manages the Veterans Job Exchange specifically assisting veterans in your situation. Try looking here for some possible assistance:

Thank you for your service and all the best in your search.

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