The RE-4, Resume Writing and Revision System

By the time many service members separate from active service, their civilian resumes have become stale and out of date. Before you go littering the internet landscape, or the literal one for that matter, STOP and apply the basic RE-4 (REFORE) method.

The RE-4 method is best applied to civilian employment/non-government sector resumes. The basic RE-4 method was designed under the expectation that the applicant will use a cover letter to accompany the resume.(IE, the OBJECTIVE portion of the resume is not included and there is no great detail applied with respect to each job).

The basic RE-4 helps create a streamlined and concise single page resume. I have used the basic and advanced RE-4 method for the past 6 years. The method derives from personal experiences as a hiring manager and educational background.

The RE-4 method consists of four steps: REVIEW, REFRESH, REVISE, and REWRITE. Applying the RE-4 method can address most of the major issues with old, cluttered, incomplete, and outright tired resumes.

Step 1. REVIEW

1. Print a copy of your most recent resume.

2. Read over the document and check for key features:

  • Name and Information (Full Name, Address(optional), Contact information)
  • Education (College, HS if within 4 years of graduation)
  • Work Experience (Three most recent employers and 4-5 task statements for each)
  • Applicable Skills and/or Training(Training with certifications, accreditation, etc is preferred)

3. Write notes in the margins addressing missing or outdated information that should be part of the key features.


Anything you noted during the REVIEW process needs to be addressed at this point.

1. Update your contact information, add education, add your most recent employment or job title,  add skills or certifications/training, etc.

2. Add Task statements: Task statements are used to define the scope and expectation of a specific job/duty. For the purpose of a resume, you can use the same recipe but with fewer servings. List five tasks that you performed most often in the course of your job, four tasks you performed occasionally, and three that you rarely performed. This should leave you with 12 tasks that you performed within the course of your job/employment.

3. Group the associated tasks together into Primary, Secondary, and Ancillary task groups. For example, as a Police Officer you may access the NCIC (National Criminal Information Center) from your cruiser every day. This may be one of the tasks you perform MOST often, however, it is not a PRIMARY task. This is an Ancillary task that acts in support of Primary or Secondary Tasks.

Primary tasks define your position or job.

Primary tasks of a Police Patrolman: Protect personnel and property. Enforce laws and regulations, patrols assigned grid or areas

Secondary tasks define your position as it relates to subordinates/peers or is a task that acts in support of your primary tasks.

Secondary tasks of a Police Patrolman: Respond to emergency calls, take witness statements, interview suspects

Ancillary tasks are neither primary, nor secondary. These tasks act in support of primary and/or secondary tasks.

Ancillary tasks of a Police Patrolman: Operate a motor vehicle at high speed, exercise judgement with respect to policy and procedure

4. Pull four tasks from the twelve you listed. These four tasks must accurately encompass the scope of your job(past or current employment) or the job you are pursuing. (Ancillary tasks can be paired with Primary or Secondary tasks to create complete task statements)

5. Create your task statements. Use an action verb and describe the object of the action. (attempt to describe the result of the performed task,reference the source of instruction if possible, and address the frequency at which you performed the task). Make certain to address any tensing issues. If it is a PAST employment make sure that you use past-tense when creating the task statement. This helps keep the resume reviewers mind on task.

For example:

  • Enforce(d) laws and regulations judiciously andin accordance with AFI31-201.
  • Regularly enforce laws and regulations in accordance with AFI31-201.

Step 3. REVISE

This is where you address spelling issues, grammatical errors, statistical specifics or data etc. This is your FINAL revision process.

1. Type your resume into a word processing program (if it is still on paper). Use a Microsoft Word template that is appealing to you but not cluttered or “busy.” The template will address how you organize:

Education – dates Attended/Graduated, Location, degree pursued
Work Experience – Dates Employed/Ended Employment – Location. (USE TASK STATEMENT METHOD)

2. Use the spelling and grammar check to address simple errors.

3. Consult a former co-worker or battle buddy/wingman who held the same position or similar. Work with your wingman to address any technical discrepancies or personal oversight.

4. Find your 12th Grade English Teacher, or English 101 professor…and beg them to PROOF your resume…wouldn’t that be nice! In all seriousness, have a fresh set of eyes look over the resume once you have completed steps 1-3. Most colleges and universities have a career advancement center as well as a resource center that helps students with reports, papers, and even resumes. These resources are invaluable and most are free to students enrolled at that college or university.


This is a discretionary step, but one that I would suggest. There are a lot of people who have exceptional resumes, but they do not tailor the resume to the job they want.

1. Research the general tasks and job description for the job you want.

2. Create task groups for the job you are pursuing.

3. Use the task creation guidelines listed in this article to create task statements that better correspond to the job you want. This is where your 12 Tasks come in to play. Most jobs have an abundance of tasks that are found in most if not all other jobs. This doesn’t require you to be vague about your duties/tasks, it just requires you to focus on the job you want, not the job you have or had.

A Police Patrolman:

Enforced laws and regulations judiciously and in accordance with AFI31-201.
That Patrolman is transitioning and wants to transition out of law enforcement and into international shipping and logistics.

Enforced regulations while maintaining an exemplary compliance record in accordance with AFI31-201 standards and procedures. The second task statement focuses more on Regulations, Standards, Attention to Detail, and Consistency.

4. REVISE the resume and follow all of the steps listed in the REVISE section. (try and speak with someone who works in the field you are pursuing and if possible have them review your REWRITE)

At this point you should be able to reconstruct an existing resume and possibly construct a resume from scratch. The RE-4 method has served me well and has helped many people find jobs, move from underemployment, and seamlessly transition into the civilian workforce.

I will address cover letters, RE-4 GOV resumes, as well as Advanced RE-4 in upcoming articles. Meanwhile, let me know what you think of this in the comments below!