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Updated: May 12, 2021

A successful resume tells the story of someone different than the rest of the candidate pool. It isn't uncommon for managers to look through a pile of resumes and job applications that look nearly identical. Most people seem to Google search a resume format and fill in the blanks. What is your name? Where do you live? Do you have any formal education or skills? Employers need something new people!

Some of the best resumes I have seen offer something different, such as working towards community service, a study abroad program that made an impact, or a personal achievement. I remember one candidate who had all of the credentials as the others but participated in the Peace Corps for two years working in a third-world country. During her stay, she helped locals learn how to farm to build a sustainable income to support their families. Her stories were excellent, and the experience broadened her perspective on the world. From a manager's perspective, that type of added value may push you into the "select" category. So what do YOU have to offer employers other than your formal education? If you have nothing, let me show you a path forward.

I understand that many do not want to serve the Peace Corp. You have bills to pay. I get it. There is a good chance your local fire department is looking for people to assist them in serving your community. They are tasked with responding to many types of emergencies in the community and stopping them from getting worse. Over the years, they have become the Swiss Army Knife who can solve most problems that occur. To become a firefighter, you have to be vetted. That means the community conducts a criminal history check on you, sends you through a health screening process, and may even have you complete a psychological evaluation. Although that may not sound like a lot of fun, it adds considerable value to your resume. If a community entrusts you to handle their emergencies and drive million-dollar trucks, why wouldn't an employer? Trust me, it works!

As a firefighter, you learn new skills that will carry into your personal life and offer work skills. You manage complex tasks on a team and help people solve problems. Would an employer want someone who can work within a team? Absolutely! The fire service offers you an opportunity to become a leader and make presentations in front of community members. After all, you would become a local expert. That too adds value to your resume.

On top of all of the benefits, it would cost you nothing but time. Fire departments pay for your training and equipment. Some even pay for your time. So if you want to be that candidate with the resume that stands out, consider serving on your local fire department. You may find a new purpose that other people will find impressive.

If you need information on becoming a firefighter and want to connect with your local Fire Chief, contact Minnesota Fire Hire at Good luck!


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