Military To Civilian Resume: How To Translate Your Military Skills

by Heidi Cope
Get The Job - 12 months ago

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“Looking for a civilian job?”

Finding a job after a career in the military can be a complicated process and it’s not surprising that some veterans find it difficult to transition out of the military and find civilian jobs.

So why is it so hard for some to find a civilian job? One reason veteran job-seekers have a difficult time finding a civilian job is that they are using a military resume. A military resume is great, but it is filled with complex military-specific language that many civilian hiring managers have no idea how to interpret.

One key thing you can do to help improve your chances of landing a job as a veteran is crafting a great civilian resume.

Here are some highlights to keep in mind about making the perfect civilian resume as a veteran:

  • Get rid of the technical military language and find keywords that fit your experience that civilian hiring managers are looking for.
  • Find the appropriate civilian job title equivalent to your military one and use it in your career history section.
  • Detail the skills you have, both hard and soft skills, that can apply to the civilian job you are applying to.

Military to Civilian Resume

Being in the military can be an incredibly valuable experience for your career and leaves veterans with a mass of transferable skills to apply to civilian jobs.

The transition from military to civilian, however, isn’t always an easy one to make. The good thing is that many countries have programs to help veterans seek civilian jobs after their military career. If you are part of the U.S. Military, there are many websites and resources you can use to help find the perfect civilian job.

Some resources include:

Once you have found the best job fit through sites like Zippia or some of the resources listed above, you will have to write a resume. This next step requires you to make a civilian resume, not a military one.

So even if you are a pro at making resumes, if all your resumes have been military ones, you will likely need a brief refresher on how to transform that military resume to a civilian one.

How To Add Military Experience To a Resume

The first step is to get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training. This document is available through the Department of Defense and details the training you learned in your military career. It can be incredibly helpful, especially if you’ve had a really niche job in the military and are unsure what to put down in a civilian context.

Next, think about your skills. Skills come in two forms: Hard skills and soft skills. A veteran has many skills that can be easily transferred to hard and soft skills on a civilian resume. For example, if you worked a job that required computer/IT skills or engineering, list those computer languages you are fluent in. Think about software programs the military uses that are applicable in civilian settings.

Soft skills are different in that there is no tangible component to them. They are more about leadership and how you work within a team. Luckily for you, being in the military is one of the best places to learn leadership and teamwork skills.

In addition to leadership and teamwork skills, veterans often have excellent skills in self-discipline, management, budgeting, communication, conflict resolution, flexibility, working in diverse environments, and sometimes even foreign languages.

Now that you’ve had a brief overlook at why your experiences can make you a great candidate for a civilian job, how do you actually write a civilian resume?
military resume

Source: Cpl. Grace L. Waladkewics

Military Resume Examples

One of the most important things you can do to make your civilian resume a good one is writing it assuming the person reading it has little to no experience with the military.

Unless you are applying to a highly technical Department of Defense job that is military all but in name, the person reading your resume likely has no military knowledge.

With that in mind, be careful about how you write your job history and skills section. Don’t fill up the resume with military-specific lingo and jargon. It might look impressive, but if they don’t know how it can be applied to the job they are trying to fill, they will likely move on to the next candidate.

You have a ton of transferable skills– you just have to package it differently.

For example, you likely have a code associated with your job title and a specific military title. Most people won’t know what they mean and they won’t take the time to look it up. So ask yourself: “What is the main purpose of my job?” You likely will come up with something like “supervisor,” “team leader,” or “manager.” Those are titles civilians understand. Use them.

If you are unsure what your military job title translates to, check out this Military to Civilian Occupation Translator tool. It will give you a better idea of which civilian jobs have similar job descriptions and titles as your military one.

Military Career History and Skills Sections

After you have figured out the civilian equivalent of your military job, you will have to describe your duties and skills under your title in the job history section of your resume. Again, avoid military terms and think about what recruiters are looking for in a job candidate that your military experience can exemplify.

Here are some job skills that can be detailed in your careers section that may apply to you:

  • Supervision
  • Surveillance
  • Management
  • Security
  • Leadership
  • Defensive and logistical support
  • Budgeting

When describing your job history, don’t forget to detail your deliverables and achievements. How effective are you at supervision? How many people were under your command? How well did you budget? How much money did you save? What were the big-picture outcomes? These are the types of questions you should answer in this section.

Finally, after you have filled our your career history and your skills sections (remember to include both hard and soft skills as mentioned in the sections above), think about what else you have to offer.

These are some other things to keep in mind that some jobs might be seeking, but are harder to find in candidates outside of the military:

  • Security clearances
  • Recent education with a background full of experience
  • Ability to relocate
  • Ability to work in stressful environments
  • Physical abilities

Military Career Summary

Finally, think about the big picture. What is your career history and skills shape you to be in terms of a civilian jobseeker? When you write your career objective or career summary, avoid the military jargon.

Think about keywords job recruiters are looking for that describe your military experience. These keywords are often the same or similar to the keywords you would include in your skills section.

Military Education

Sometimes veterans don’t have degrees in the same way civilian job seekers do and that’s OK. When filling out your resume section, you can include your job training given to you by the military and any certificates you have earned during your employment.

If you do have more traditional education, list it. But if not, don’t leave the section blank. The military gives you a ton of training that makes a military education.

Summary Of Transferring A Military Resume To The Civillian World

Navigating the civilian job market can be daunting after years in the military, but remember that your military experience can be a valuable asset in the job search process.

Many employers like the dependability of veteran workers but they often have trouble understanding complex military language. Make it easy for hiring managers to read your resume and make it easier forthem to see why the military experience has made you an excellent candidate for the job.

And finally, use Zippia’s Veterans Resource Guide and the resources your country provides to veterans. These resources can help you find employers seeking veterans because they value the military experience.

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