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A Deepdive into my Resume and Cover Letter


Harry Edelman Pittsburgh, PA

I need some real honest feedback on my cover letter and resume to help me find out what the "sticking point" is with my potential applications.

I have just recently graduated from my masters degree in Emergency and Disaster Management after getting out of the Army in 2017. I have been applying to positions since about February/March timeline to organizations such as OSCE, various UN agencies and organizations, NATO and various NGOs in the international disaster relief sector.

My first issue is that I am not hearing back from organizations after applying, which I don't think there is anything that can be done about that.

But the second part is that the applications that I have received feedback from have simply been an automated no message. Something along the lines of, "Thanks, but we have decided to go with another candidate." That leads me to believe that there is something wrong with my resume or cover letter that isn't hitting the applicant tracking systems or I am not qualifying my experiences correctly. If someone is willing to help me scrub these- it would be great. Thank you so much for your help.

22 June 2019 8 replies Career Advancement



Jo Prabhu Long Beach, CA

Its much more difficult in todays automated environment for your resume to get ‘noticed’ or come up in automated searches based upon 'qualifications' and 'experience'. When I first started out as a Recruiter in the job world in the late 80’s, we humans sorted through paper resumes sent via snail mail and applicants found innovative ways to stand out-some would use yellow, blue or pink colored pages and it worked!

Landing a job today as an ex-service person is even more difficult as you are competing with civilians for the same workspace and your key words ex-service’ or ‘military’ or ‘navy’ do not come up in computer searches for civilian jobs.

Unfortunately, most of our universities offer courses and degrees that look good on your resume but don't guarantee a spot in the real world. This is clearly evident from the massive student debt that is impossible to repay. It’s a sad and rather unfortunate state of affairs, especially for patriots from the front lines like you trying to get in.

There are a few companies like Ross Perot’s who made it a point to hire from the service because he found they had among other skills, integrity, diligence, a strong work ethic and most important, reliability. Everything else could be taught!

For you starting at the ground floor may require a different approach such as face to face networking with the Emergency and Disaster Management organizations you mention. These agencies have monthly, quarterly or yearly meetings you can go to. You can even offer to help the organizers as a Volunteer whether is greeting people at the door or cleaning up after the event. You will meet and connect directly with decision makers-have a bunch of your resumes handy and hand it to them personally at their events and make sure you get their business cards and send them an email reminder after a week!

They also have specific associations listed online with names and emails of directors and decision makers. Send them a resume directly. It may be a hit and miss but if you get innovative with a heartfelt cover letter, this should make all the difference.

22 June 2019 Helpful answer


Beheruz N. Sethna Carrollton, GA

Dear Capt. Edelman,

I am no expert in Emergency and Disaster Management; in fact, not even knowledgeable of the field. However, I have looked at a lot of resumes and cover letters in my time, and will be happy to share some thoughts with you if you want to send me a copy of what you have. For more prompt responses, please send them to my e-mail address ( and please give me your e-mail address as well.

Since you are a recent graduate, have you consulted your Career Services department for advice for you resume and cover letter? They are the experts.

Best wishes,

Beheruz N. Sethna
Professor of Marketing
Former University President

22 June 2019 Helpful answer


Allison Pinchak Van Nuys, CA

Hi Harry,

Something I was told when I was applying for jobs was that to get past the applicant screening systems you should pull a handful of keywords from the job posting and include them in your cover letter and resume. Hope that helps!



David Schneider San Diego, CA

Happy to review it and give you my thoughts. Thanks.


Sarah Johnson Houston, TX


Cracking the code of resumes to get past the bots and in front of a live person is half the battle I believe. I am happy to look over your resume if you like.

Additionally most large companies have emergency response and crisis & continuity plans and sections that aid their employees and business in time of disaster. Perhaps this may be an area you would consider expanding your search and look into.


Steven Mathews Spring, TX

I have helped over 100 people in the past 6+ years acquire jobs within 2-4 weeks after they had spent weeks and months with no calls to set up an interview. They had the same skills and talents as before. I showed them how to market themselves better.

I spent some time in the AF Reserve as a Disaster Preparedness Officer. I know enough about your field to be very dangerous.

For free assistance,


Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

You're getting some great advice -- but I'll add my perspective to it. Always willing to review your resume and cover letter. Plus you can find somewhat different advice in many cases in articles I've published to this site -- and many more at


Henry ("Dr. Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fundamentally, I LIKE the idea of personal and informal interactions with those who are already established in the industry. That is sage counsel. Employment is a highly competitive task and anything that will positively differentiate you from the crowd has value.

Secondarily, I have found that in my decades of recruiting/hiring candidates, those applicants who have stood out are those who emphasize their TALENTS over their experience and education.

To me, education simply tells me that you CAN learn and have demonstrated the same with your degree. Experience tells me that you have an inkling of doing the tasks that I need to have done. But, talent tells me that you want and enjoy doing the job. That is, in theme, "people will do what you want them to do when what they do is what they want to do."

So, what do you want to do and what are your talents associated with that job? Step back, make that assessment, and use that theme as the thrust of your interactions with potential employers.

If you need some guidance (FREE) defining your talents, do this assessment:

If you need help interpreting the results (also FREE), contact me at with the 4 letters and percentages of each. I will be glad to help.

Dr. Hank

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