What to Include in a Fire Resume
Every firefighter, fire inspector and fire investigator will follow a different career path and will gain vital experience and training through different venues. Some investigators begin their careers as volunteer firefighters and start taking courses offered through local community colleges or municipal fire companies. Some earn two- or four-year degrees in fire science or forensics before entering this field. Some fire investigators began their careers in other fields, like structural engineering or criminal justice.
No matter how you started down this career path, you’ll need to make your background and skill sets clear to your potential employers, and you’ll start by organizing your document into the standard subheadings listed here:
- Resume Summary Section
- Resume Education Section
- Resume Work History Section
- Resume Skills Section
As you’ll notice, the fire resume samples presented here include all of these sections, even though the information included in each section varies from one profile to the next.
You may also notice that these fire resume samples organize their work history sections in either of two distinct formats. These two formatting options are called chronological and functional, and they each offer different benefits.
As you choose your formatting style, note that the chronological option presents your job history according to a timeline, beginning with the most recent position. This makes it a better choice for those with an orderly progression of titles and responsibilities.
By comparison, the functional resume focuses on a list of the candidate’s most relevant and impressive capabilities and potential contributions, and foregoes listing a work history according to date. As the functional resume does not require employment dates or organize responsibilities and accomplishments by position, it’s a wiser option for candidates who are changing careers or who have noticeable employment gaps.
How to Write the Fire Resume Summary Statement
Your resume, like the fire resume samples presented here, should begin with a brief summary of your credentials and most relevant experience. This section will resemble a block or paragraph of text between three and five lines long, and it should cover the basics, since this may be the first (and sometimes the only) section that employers and recruiters may read before deciding to move on with their candidate search.
Your resume summary should be clear, well-written, and specific. Avoid generic details about your background and focus on the unique elements of your profile that set you apart from the competition.
Here are a few examples (check the fire resume samples for more):
Dedicated fire inspector with proven leadership and risk assessment skills. Excels in evidence collection, data analysis, and the design and execution of fire safety training programs. Certified Building Inspector, certified Fire Investigator, and certified Fire Prevention expert.
Fire investigator with strong background in education, forensics, and fire science. Designed and published multiple studies of fire behavior and multi-phased fire prevention, including assessment of chemical inventories, equipment, standards, and plans. Offer regular training seminars on identifying charge and fuel types.
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How to Write the Fire Education Section
Regardless of how much schooling you’ve completed, your firefighter or fire investigator/inspector resume will need to include a section dedicated to your education credentials. For most fire experts, this section will include two essential elements of detail: your formal academic degrees and your individual certifications and licenses. Both of these will play a very strong role in the hiring process, so make sure both are equally and prominently represented.
Each entry in your education section should include the specific degree, diploma, or certification your earned, followed by the institution that granted it and the location of the institution. List these accomplishments in the order in which you acquired them, beginning with the most recent. If you choose, you can also include your completion dates, grade point averages, and special honors and distinctions.
As you may notice, some of these fire resume samples contain these optional elements and some don’t. You’ll need to decide which of these details will work in your favor.
How to Write the Fire Work Experience Section
As mentioned above (and illustrated in the fire resume samples), the work experience section of your document can be presented using one of two different formatting styles: chronological or functional.
If you choose the chronological format, you’ll create this section by listing each of your previous relevant positions in a distinct entry, starting with the most recent position and moving backwards over time. Each entry should include the title of the position you held, followed by the name of your employer, the location of the company, and your start and end dates. After these basic data points, you’ll create a short bullet-pointed list of your core responsibilities in this position, followed by a description of the most important victories and accomplishments that you achieved during your tenure.
If you choose the functional format instead, you’ll pare down your work history significantly and beef up your skills section. The skills section will list your most important skills and the abilities and talents that you’ll bring to your new workplace. These will not be connected with any specific jobs from your past.
Following your list of skills and contributions, you’ll create a facts-only list of your previous job titles. Don’t add any additional detail about your responsibilities or accomplishments, and don’t include your dates of employment. The functional resume will keep the spotlight focused on what you’re able to do in the future, not what you’ve done in the past.
Action Verbs to Include in Your Fire Work Experience Section
Here are a few action verbs you can use as you draft and edit your fire resume:
How to Write the Fire Skills Section
Fire science, fire safety, firefighting and fire investigation skill sets vary widely, and since technical skills are of vital importance to your potential employers, this section will play a critical role in your profile.
List the skills you hold within each of these categories: Software skills, leadership skills, training and organizational skills, communication and public speaking, inductive reasoning, equipment operation, and skills related to data collection and analysis. If you know how to use specific tools and machinery, or how to use industry-specific software modules, don’t fail to mention this. Safety, search and rescue, structural inspection, and any other skills you hold should appear here.
Remember, your employers may be filtering resumes by using keyword searches, and if you accidentally omit a vital skill from your document, your resume may not make it thought the review process.
Should I Include References in my Fire Resume?
If your employers have not specifically asked you to do so, there’s no need to include a list of personal or professional references within the text of your resume document. But since you’ll probably be asked for this list before the selection process ends, you’ll want to have it ready.
Create a list that includes the names and contact information for at least three people who can directly attest to your skills and strengths on the job. Choose direct supervisors, coworkers, or upper level managers, and make sure these people know that you’ve listed them as professional references. When you’re asked for the list, you can go ahead and hand it over. You can also submit it as a separate document along with your resume and cover letter.
Fire Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
As you create your profile using fire resume samples as a guide, watch out for these common mistakes:
Missing an opportunity in your skills section: You may be a Certified Building Inspector, and this credential may imply a host of critical skill sets, but not all of your employers and reviewers will be industry experts, so they may not know this. If you have a skill set that matters, be sure to name it explicitly.
Broad strokes: In every section of your resume, use terms and descriptions that are specific, not general. Instead of calling yourself a strong leader, provide clear examples and quantify them if you can. Find ways to stand out and set yourself apart from the rest of the applicant pool.
Confusion: Above all else, make sure that your credentials and accomplishments are stated clearly. Everything you say should make sense, both logically and grammatically. Have a friend or editor review your resume before you submit it so that you can smooth out phrases that don’t work.
Job Prospects in the Fire Industry
In 2012 employers offered about 12,200 new positions in this field, and by 2022, this number is expected to grow by about 6 percent. This is slightly under the average for all positions in all industries, but it still suggests that hiring in this field is steady and the outlook for fire inspectors and investigators will be positive during the next decade.
Similarly, job prospects for firefighters are expected to grow by 7 percent between 2012 and 2022.