Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
  • 04/20/2015
  • sop

I’ve hit a wall with my resume and it needs some zest or a professional touch. Has anyone used a writing service or can you recommend the next alternative?  I’m no stranger to federal employment and have gotten most jobs I’ve desired but I know my resume can be better. Any pertinent advice will be appreciated!  Stay safe TheySaiders, Thanks!

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  1. krs
    April 23, 2015 Reply


    I used their service quite a few years ago, and was very happy with the product.

  2. Anon
    April 23, 2015 Reply


    Utilizing resume services, in my opinion, lack integrity and inherently provide a false portrayal of the applicants skills and abilities due to the fact that it is not the applicant writing it. If you need help drafting a resume or developing your writing skills, community colleges and online forums have endless resources to help you develop your resume and improve your writing proficiency. I would recommend attending a resume workshop at a community college. They are free and open to the public. Remember, you are your biggest advocate. Not only will writing your own resume positively reflect who you are, but in the process of writing and rewriting you will improve upon valuable communication skills needed for a lasting career in wildland fire.

    Good luck!

    1. Kelly
      April 28, 2015 Reply

      @Anon, I’m glad Bethany responded below to your misguided and inaccurate remarks about résumé services — and her response is far better than mine would have been. Your statement that hiring résumé help lacks integrity and provides a false portrayal of skills and abilities is not grounded in any kind of fact; that’s like saying Norman Maclean was unethical as a published writer because of the services/assistance of an editor. Many of the very best and brightest and most highly skilled firefighters and fire managers out there — like the rest of the population — just aren’t highly skilled writers.

      That’s like saying a homeowner should not pay for professional help with creating defensible space around his home — just go to a community college and learn to run a chainsaw, right?

    2. BillM
      May 13, 2015 Reply

      I don’t know squadoosh about fighting fires, but I know writing. In my professional judgement, the OP is written to a higher standard of clarity and with fewer errors than your screed, including the suggestion to “improve your writing proficiency [sic].”

      To an outsider, all jobs look easy. But even as a professional editor, I would be loath to polish resumes for a living – it’s a skill I do not possess.

  3. Bethany Hannah
    April 24, 2015 Reply

    Thank you Krs, for your supportive post; I appreciate the endorsement.

    Anon, I’m the owner of Wildland Fire Careers. I come from an operational background (including six years as a Hotshot) and will have a Masters in wildland fire management and communications in three weeks’ time. I’ve helped hundreds of wildland firefighters get through the application process by crafting resumes and take offense to the idea that they lack integrity simply because they opt to use a service to help advance their careers.

    A huge majority of my clients are skilled, well-respected firefighters within the community; most people who use my services are folks who either don’t have time to dedicate to developing their resume or simply want to have professional assistance to get through the process (just like they would seek out a tax preparer to make sure they’re covering their bases within our complicated tax system). My clients include entry level firefighters all the way up to forest chiefs and folks on NIMO teams. In other words, they aren’t seeking professional assistance because they want to game the system or lack integrity, they’re seeking it out because they want help.

    The federal human resources system has official avenues they can use if they want to evaluate a candidate’s writing abilities, but a resume isn’t part of that process. It would be illegal for a federal hiring official (or SME) to consider a professionally prepared resume as a negative against posted selection criteria unless the announcement specifically prohibited it (just as it would be inappropriate to disregard someone’s resume because it wasn’t professionally prepared). Furthermore, my clients verify that their resumes are accurate, true, and free from errors and omissions when they accept their final product. This is a huge sticking point for me, due, in part, to my operational background.

    Although I agree that attending a resume writing workshop is great advice, and taking any opportunity to develop communications skills is well worth the effort, many resume writing workshops and presentations do not cover the unique aspects of federal resumes (which are significantly different than in the private sector). This is not to say they wouldn’t be valuable to attend, but perhaps not always pertinent. However, I totally agree that there is a ton of great advice out there about federal resumes (and other career development documents) – for free. Everyone has an opinion, but if you’re diligent, you’ll find the information you need. I also agree that writing and revising your own resume over time can help improve your ability to communicate, as well as your ability to think objectively and critically about your own career. I am a huge advocate of developing resumes on your own. And, like you, I actively promote the idea of being your own biggest advocate. But, I would never criticize or think poorly of someone who sought out professional assistance – and not just because I happen to own a resume writing business.

    The reason I started my business was because I was witnessing my peers…really incredible firefighters, sawyers, and fireline leaders—who were qualified and ready for the next level—get bypassed because they couldn’t get through the convoluted application system (often because they didn’t know how to present their experience in a good way). I would hate to think that people would go to the other extreme and bypass really good candidates because they sought help in presenting their experience in a professional manner.

    SOP – My biggest advice is this: Don’t sell yourself short – specifically highlight your accomplishments, the special projects you’ve tackled, and the challenges that you’ve overcome (even if you feel like you’re bragging a little – it’s okay to be proud of your work). Be thorough in describing your work experience (refer to the PD of your target position to make sure you’re covering the skill sets they’re looking for – don’t, however, copy-and-paste a PD into your work experience blocks). Organize your content so that it’s easy for the SMEs to find the information they’re looking for – it doesn’t have to be pretty to be effective, but it does need to be organized. I’m a big proponent of bullet points, but if you use a paragraph style, keep the paragraphs short so that the important information doesn’t get buried in a huge block of text. Highlight your core strengths – one of the biggest mistakes people make is forgetting to convey what they’re good at simply because they’re too busy telling about what they do. Here is a link to a resume writing self-assessment worksheet — it may help focus your efforts: http://wildlandfirecareers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/WFC-resume_writing_assess.pdf.

    Best of luck to you,
    Bethany Hannah, owner
    Wildland Fire Careers

  4. Irritated
    April 29, 2015 Reply

    Here’s the thing, unfortunately the younger generations these days have horrible penmanship, grammar and communication skills. Have we just adopted the “Pay for it” attitude now? Instead of seeking self improvement and honing one’s skills in the arena of Written Communication, which by the way is a KSA question they ask your abilities on, we’ve resigned to the fact that instead it’s alright to just pay someone? To give a false sense of competent written communication skills to a potential employer? In a profession where the ability to legibly and coherently write reports, draft burn plans and an endless number of documents that you will at some point in your career be expected to write, we’re ok with someone falsely displaying that skill and paying for it? I’m sorry but he was right, where is the integrity in that. And to attack him when he has pointed the Original Poster in the right direction to educate himself on the matter he’s asking for help in is even more absurd. Obviously some of the responses are crafted by individuals who have a monetary interest in the perpetuation of underskilled, poor communicators in the work force. I personally have spent 40+ hours working on my resume, revising it and tweaking it and am quite proud of the product that I MYSELF have created. I have also achieved every promotion I have sought and have received nothing but the highest remarks on the quality of my resume that I paid absolutely ZERO money for. If you are weak in an area, SEEK IMPROVEMENT, ask questions on how you can improve and better yourself. Seek feedback and constructive criticism, better yourself. Take a class and learn. Attend a workshop. Utilize the programs, seminars and workshops available to you. You will thank yourself down the road when you achieve a career that you earned yourself, not by paying someone to portray who you are. To me there’s nothing more fake.

  5. fuels guy
    April 30, 2015 Reply

    I utilized Bethany’s services when I promoted from an Engine Captain to a Fuels Battalion Chief. I graduated college, successfully passed TFM (back in 2000 it required both good oral and written skills). I did not have the time to put into completing my resume due work, home, etc…

    If the individuals who utilize this service are misrepresenting themselves it will become apparent during the SME portion of fire hire.

  6. SOP
    May 2, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for the suggestions, I will check out wildlandfirecareers.com. As for the accusations, let me give you a little insight as to why I am at this point posting this question. I have spent well over a hundred hours on my resume, I have had several mentors and bosses review my resume and provide feedback, suggestions and insight on how to improve it, I have taken multiple English courses at a local community college and I have read plenty of literature on resume writing as well as reviewed others and sought ideas. Like I posted I’ve hit a wall with my own capabilities and know my resume can be better which has lead me to seek out further guidance. I pride myself on integrity and honestly I am offended someone can so easily question it. I feel I am a superior firefighter which is supported by every EPAP and Performance Appraisal I have ever received and I feel that I am a valuable asset to any district or agency I choose to work for; unfortunately, I am blessed with many positive qualities that don’t include expert resume writer. Some might say that I don’t deserve a position because my resume is not at the top tier, that is their opinion and I respect it but I can promise you if I’m ever shoulder to shoulder with you on the line I am confident you will be happy I’m there.

  7. Tree Mechanic
    June 7, 2015 Reply

    With 28 yrs in fire ; hotshots,smokejumpers,engines, prevention and tanker base experience.. It is hard to reflect my experience , training, awards and collateral duties without going over 11 pages. My wife says a resume should only be 1-2 pages. Is she correct ? Writing a resume for a federal job is an entirely different beast in my opinion….. Suggestions ?

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