14 May 2020
Capt. Bob Smith


A properly-prepared resume can distinguish you from other candidates.  Your resume is a snapshot of you, your qualifications, your knowledge, skills and abilities.  Putting too much information on a resume is almost as bad as not putting enough information.

The people hiring you want to read your resume in less than a minute.  Do you believe that your current resume gives a great impression of yourself in less than a minute?

In reviewing hundreds of resumes, I’ve determined that most resumes are poorly done.  The business resume format is not the best for firefighter candidates, because with the high volume of candidates, the raters only have a few moments to look at your resume before you walk into the room.

I believe the best format is a one-page resume without a cover letter, not in a binder or folder.  Do not give us a book.  We will not read it.  Keep it short and leave plenty of open space, distinguishing between things you want to stand out.

Do not come into the oral interview thinking you are going to hand out your resume and we're going to read it.  That is not going to happen.  We're going to read your application and resume before you come in the room.  If you submit a resume, get it to the Personnel/Human Resources Department to be placed in your file before the interview. 

My suggestion for a firefighter resume format:  name, address, phone number and email address, professional experience, training/certifications/licenses, education, volunteer and community service.  That's all you need.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Keep it simple.   

Many people start their resume with their education.  I like to see professional experience jump right off the page.  With that experience, show me some kind of training, fire school, EMT, Paramedic, Certified Firefighter - whatever it is I want to see those first.  

That doesn't necessarily have to be in chronological order of fire service experience.  If you bury your important certificates and licenses way down at the bottom of the first page because that's how it falls in chronological order, I might not see it or put the appropriate emphasis on it. 

If you have certifications/licenses, don’t list 50 of them you’ve received.  Pick out the top ones to go on your resume.

I once asked a candidate, "What are the most important items on your resume?"  He said, "My Firefighter I and Paramedic Certification."  I asked him, “Well, why are they at the bottom of the page?” 

Always list your present job but don’t get excessive.  List no more than 3 employers – don’t list every employer you have ever worked for.  Remember – the application will be where you will list your entire work history.  Your resume should be the jobs you feel are relevant and important to the position you are trying to obtain with the fire department. 

Are you performing volunteer work?  Most departments expect their candidates to have some experience and community service work.  When I say community service, it’s being involved in the community, your church, etc.

Do you speak or read a second language fluently?  If so, list it.  Many departments these days would like someone who speaks a second language.

Print your resume on good quality paper and use a laser printer.  If you don’t have access to one, take it to an office supply store/print shop to be printed.  Make numerous copies of your resume.  You never know when you're going to that job interview. 

I believe that if you’re not updating and adding to your resume at least once every 2-3 months, are you really serious about becoming a firefighter?  Are you doing everything you possibly can to prepare yourself for this job and putting yourself in position as the best candidate?  Are you taking classes for new certifications or adding a new volunteer position? 

At times, the hiring process takes 6-9 months before you are in a position to be hired by a department.  The application you submitted at the time you applied to take the test may need to be updated.  If so, you need to update your resume with any new information such as new certifications or volunteer information.  You need to turn in that updated resume to Human Resources and the Fire Department prior to your interview.  

Good luck in your pursuit of the greatest job on the face of the earth!  Remember – luck goes to the prepared!