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Everyone Needs a Resume

There is a misconception in the ship repair industry that only management professionals and college graduates need a resume; not tradesmen and women. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many trades personnel don’t keep a resume; and when it’s time to fill out an application for a job, new position, or promotion, they try to rely on memory. We all forget dates, projects, qualifications, skills, accomplishments, etc.

I recently came across a job application for a mechanic. In the block, Work Performed in his previous job, this applicant answered, “CHT.”  For those who aren’t familiar, CHT is an acronym for Collection, Holding, and Transfer; a system installed on Navy ships to collect and hold shipboard sewage. This tells the potential employer nothing about the applicant’s capabilities or job performance history.  

As another example, one of my daughters had a job in high school bathing dogs and was trained as a dog groomer. In helping her write a resume/application for college, I asked her what she did; her response was, “I groom dogs.”  After googling “dog groomer” and talking to her employer at the shop, “I groom dogs” turned into a job description that included, “…using knowledge of breed-specific characteristics and following industry standards in grooming techniques, safety, and sanitation…”

As a tradesman or woman, i.e., welder, shipfitter, electrician, etc., don’t underestimate the importance of your on-the-job training, education, and technical knowledge. The statement, “I’m a welder”could very easily turn into, “Accomplished ship-fitting/fabrication and TIG welding of 5xxx series aluminum under intense conditions in extremely tight spaces and in a shop environment. Interpreted and ‘red-lined’ drawings and assisted in scheduling large-scale structural jobs. Gained proficiency in thin-wall aluminum pipe, thin-wall stainless pipe, …”

Start by realizing that resumés aren’t written; they are built. Lean in; step up; volunteer to learn new skills. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are to an employer. Don’t forget to write down your achievements as you go along. If you work for the government or a government contractor, your payroll department will likely be able to print you a list of your charge numbers. This list can be used to refresh your memory. Remember, don’t stress about how to write a resumé; work at increasing your level of expertise, qualifications, etc. - the resumé will write itself. After the personal information such as name, trade, address, phone, email, and citizenship, a resume can simply be a list (an example follows).


  • Degree, College Name, City, State (year)
  • Degree, Name of Community College, City, State (year)
  • Apprenticeship, Shipyard or School Name, City, State (year)
  • Diploma, Name High School, City, State (1990)
  • GED, School Name, City, State (year)


  • Workmanship and Visual Acuity (NDT Level 1)
  • OSHA-10
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Firewatch

Welder Qualifications:


Group No.

Base Material

Joint Design



S/S – S/S








C/S – C/S




C/S – HY80




C/S – C/S


Work Experience:

  • Job Title, Company Name, Location (mm/yyyy – present)
    • CIWS foundation modification
    • VCHT piping modifications
    • Job Title, Company Name, Location (mm/yyyy – mm/yyyy)


  • Name, Job Title, Company, Phone, Email
  • Name, Job Title, Company, Phone, Email

About the Author

Jan Schuler-Rivas is currently the Director, Proposal Development and FSO at Técnico Corporation.  She graduated from University of Virginia in 1981 with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and held the following positions: Nuclear Engineer at Charleston Naval Shipyard (1981–1987); Sr. Electrical Engineer at Electric Boat in Ballston Spa, NY (1987-1994); and Technical Proposal Manager at QED Systems (2003-2007).  Jan is STEM committee chair with American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) and a member of VSRA Committees, Security and Communications.  


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