Applying for promotion in the fire service is a multi step process. One of the first steps involved in firefighter promotion is submitting an application and resume. If you don’t want your application going directly in the trash upon receipt be sure to avoid these mistakes.
Mistakes To Avoid
One of the first things a hiring officer will notice when they see your resume is how long it is. If your resume is over a page long they may lose interest in it or be overwhelmed by it. You want to keep your resume to a page. Some ways to fit a whole lot of information on one page is to tweak the margins and make the spacing tight. Don’t shrink the font too much though because then it will be hard for them to read. The higher up the ranks you move the more history you will have to include on the resume so it can get tricky. Remember, there are other ways to get the hiring officers to see the information you can’t fit on your resume such as a cover letter and during the interview process.
Forgetting The Cover Letter
When you apply for promotion in the fire service, there will be specific requests of you and one of those requests may be a cover letter included with your resume. A cover letter is just a way to get more information to the hiring officers in a more informal manner. It should include information that is different from your resume. Use it as a space to include random applicable skills you have, awards, and so on that do not fit on your resume but that you want them to know. A cover letter is also a great space to tell them a bit more about yourself and your personality. Not every department will ask for a cover letter but you can still include one. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to give them more information about yourself. The only time I would not include a cover letter is if they explicitly say not to.
Spelling and Grammar Errors
A great way to get your application thrown right into the trash can is spelling and grammar errors. It may seem like a simple thing that can be overlooked but it can have an impact on who they hire. The higher up the ranks you go the more important spelling and grammar becomes because the more administrative work you will have to do. No department wants to promote someone to chief if they can not spell. Luckily there is so much software available now to check your spelling and grammar, it should be easier to catch your mistakes. Just take it slow and proofread before submitting your final application. Also don’t hesitate to ask someone to review it for you, it can be so easy to miss your own mistake.
Lying About Your Skill Set
The worst thing you can do on a resume is lie about your skill sets. If you get caught doing this you will obviously not get the position you are applying for but it may also have a negative impact on your current position and you may end up fired. So many people lie or exaggerate their skillset thinking they can learn the skills by the time they are promoted or simply that no one will ever find out. Just don’t do it. They will find out eventually and you will lose any trust you ever had with the department.
The font you use for your resume matters. It may seem silly and unimportant, but it is true. Avoid any font that’s hard to read and whatever you do, do not put your resume in comic sans font. You want to use a font that is easy to read, when in doubt pick Times New Roman. The small details matter.
Ninety-nine percent of applications are online, but if you work in or are applying to a small department that still makes you handwrite an application, do not make it sloppy. No matter how bad your handwriting normally is, they know you're a firefighter, not a calligrapher, you need to make it legible. No hiring officer is going to take the time to decode your poor penmanship and it will end in the trash can. So take it slow and even practice if you need to before putting that pen to your final application.
Whatever you do, make sure your application is complete before you turn it in. Make sure you turn in all of the other required paperwork as well, whether it be resume, cover letter, certificates and so on. If you complete your application online, most computer software won’t let you submit your application unless it is complete, but make sure you double and triple check everything. No one wants to be skipped over for a job because they made an easily avoidable mistake.
You have to remember that more likely than not hiring officers are going to have many applications to weed through. They have no problem throwing candidates out for things that may seem small to you. Keep that application and resume precise, accurate and legible and yours will make its way to the top of the pile of candidates to move along with the promotion process.