Optimising your resume for firefighting work
In searching for a job, your first impression, and often your main impression for quite a while, comes from your resume. So to find a firefighting job, there’s a big advantage in having a resume that will make a favorable impression on the fire chiefs at the various fire stations you’re interested in.
Your resume lays down the foundations of your image in employers’ eyes, and is the primary source for key hard data on which employment decisions are made.
In one or two pages which can be digested in a minute or two, your resume should summarize your qualifications for the job and present a general image. Very expository discussions and detailed explanations can be saved for the interview. Think of a resume as well-chosen highlights.
Beginning at the interview, and throughout your employment if you get the job, is the time for people to get to know you as a whole person and hear your entire story. But to get this point, give some good attention to presenting the key highlights in your resume.
Including an “objective” that states what your goal is has become the norm in resumes, but in the past some resumes had a “summary” with a short statement of qualifications, history and current career situation instead. Some resumes now contain both sections, but in general the essential one is the “objective” section.
Tailor your “objective” section to each individual organization and job you apply for.
The first thing that a fire chief or other fire-fighting human resources manager will look at is your education and training. It’s basic and it’s generally assumed that any applicant will at least meet these criteria, so attention will focus on other factors afterward – but these basics are essential, so it’s usually the first thing that employers check.
So make sure your educational information is complete, accurate, clearly organized and well-presented.
Describe the most applicable work experience you have related to fire-fighting work. If you haven’t had any related work experience, discuss any type of experience which may be relevant.
For example, sports experience with team-work can be relevant, as well as any other type of accomplishment or life experience that shows responsibility, resourcefulness, cooperation, collaboration, reliability, dedication, hard work, physical endurance, courage, presence-of-mind under pressure, or problem-solving.
As discussed elsewhere on this site, any experience directly related to firefighting can be a significant advantage. So if you don’t yet have specific fire-fighting training or education, or fire-fighting work experience, talk about any related volunteer work you have done.
Good presentation of any relevant achievements is one thing that can really make your resume stand out. Even if the achievement is something like writing an essay about firefighting in grade-school, it will show your genuine passion and long-standing commitment to your goal.
Accomplishments that are not directly related to fire-fighting, but dovetail with aspects of fire-fighting work can also be valuable. Whether they relate to medical experience or community service or success in forging an accomplishment in any field through team-work or effective management of a volatile situation, these experiences can say a lot. If you present it well, even a garage-mechanic’s safety-management of volatile liquids can show a great aptitude and sensibility for fire-fighting work.
List all relevant skills. Don’t be too quick to assume you don’t have relevant skills – look elsewhere on this site for the section on the qualifications needed for firefighting work to see how broad the range of important skills is. Just a sample of those skills clearly includes medical, scientific, chemical, interpersonal, sports teamwork, organizational, leadership, first-aid, mechanical, computer, security experience, endurance, technical aptitudes, plumbing, electrical, construction, and many more.
Don’t limit your skills to those proven through job experience or educational accomplishment – any skills you’ve demonstrated in your personal interests or hobbies can also be included.
Don’t feel rushed or pressured to get your resume exactly right on the first try. It’s okay to go through numerous drafts before you get it right. The important and helpful thing is to get started. You’ll be surprised how much easier it makes it to just start writing each section, instead of worrying about it!
Once you’ve written it all the way through, even if it’s terrible, it’ll be much easier to fine-tune each section until it’s just right. When you feel it has all the essential data, and covers your highlights for fire-fighting work, you’re ready to use your resume to make the best first impression.
And that positive first impression is an excellent first step towards your fire-fighting career goals and dreams. To make getting started even easier, we provide a template fire-fighting employment resume below.