How to Write a Military to Civilian Resume

Making a military to civilian resume boils down to transferring your skills to the job you're applying for.

How to Write a Military to Civilian Resume

Leaving the military and re-entering civilian life can be tough. There are lots of differences to get used to.

Communication is no longer straightforward and uses subtlety. One of the most difficult tasks you are going to encounter is writing a military to civilian resume.

You might be used to writing field service records to show your qualifications, but for a civilian resume, that won’t cut it. Furthermore, all your military skills may seem irrelevant to your potential employers.

Lucky for you, there is an easy way to translate all your experience and skills to a language that is easy to understand by potential employers. You would still need to have some extra caution about the skills required in your chosen industry, but with some extra effort, you’ll nail it.

In this article, we are going to explore the following topics:

  • What is rmilitary to civilian resume?
  • How to write military to civilian resume?

And we are going to leave you off with some great tips and tricks to get you started.

If you need to refresh your memory about the basics of a good resume, check out how to make your resume stand out.

But if you are ready to start your military to civilian resume, stick around.

What is a Military To Civilian Resume?

The first thing we need to do is define what a military to civilian resume actually is.

In simple words, it is a resume that shows your relevant and transferable military experience and skills. It should translate in a way that a civilian would be able to understand and appreciate all your qualifications.

Apart from that, your military to civilian resume should include all the typical sections that any other would:

It can also include any other section you would like, as long as it is relevant.

Other sections that are typically added to a resume are the certifications section and awards section.

How to write a military to civilian resume.

Now that you understand what a military to civilian resume is, it is time to get to work.

As your military experience and skills would not be easily recognizable by hiring managers, many of your resume sections would need to be tailored. Let’s go through every section you need for your resume one by one.

Contact information

The first important thing you need to list is your contact information.

This is the first thing that the hiring manager sees on your resume, so make sure you do it right.

Your contact information should include:

  • Your full name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Location
  • Website/Portfolio

There are some specifics that we need to spend some time on here. When it comes to your email address, make sure you list a professional one.

The safest way to go is to use a provider like Gmail and a standard format like firstname.lastname@domain.com.

Your phone number should also have some specifics. Make sure you have listed your country code at the beginning of the number.

Last, but not least, don’t list more than needed for your location. Listing just your city and state is more than enough for your potential employer. After all, you wouldn’t want too much personal information on your resume, in case it ends up in the wrong hands.

Once you are done with all that, take the time to check it once again. You would want your contact information to be accurate and up to date.

Resume summary

A resume summary is a short description of who you are at the top of your resume. It can be either a paragraph of 3-4 sentences or a bullet list, depending on what you would like to share.

The purpose of a resume summary is to give the hiring manager a quick glance at your best skills, achievements, and experience.

That short section is one of the most important ones on your resume.

It should be written in a way that would intrigue the hiring manager and make them spend more time on your resume. To do this right for a military to civilian resume, think about all the questions that a hiring manager would like to ask when seeing it.

Once you have that, you need to make sure you have all these answers right there.

The questions that you absolutely should have an answer for in your resume summary are:

  • What is the position you are targeting?
  • What makes you a valuable asset for your potential employer?
  • How many years of relevant work experience do you have?

Last, but not least, scan the job listing for any keywords that the hiring manager might be looking for. You’d want to use those to highlight your resume summary and improve your chances of getting an interview.

Work experience

Once you nail your resume summary, the hiring manager would like to take a look at your work experience section.

That’s where you list your relevant work experience. You absolutely have to do it in reverse chronological order. Make sure you list any job position that you find relevant to the job you are applying for, starting with the most recent one.

Under every position you include, you should add a bullet list, where you explain in more detail your best accomplishments for that particular job role.

That can include your achievements in the workplace, skills you developed, and anything else related to the position that you would like to share.

That’s another crucial place to describe your military experience in an easy-to-understand way. Think about the skills and accomplishments and see how they can relate to the job position you are applying for.

It might not seem relevant at all at first, but most skills are transferable, and your potential employer would appreciate them if you present them correctly.

Skills

Another place you can outline once again your transferable skills is the skills section of your resume. Let’s go over how to do it in civilian terms so that the hiring manager understands and appreciates your skillset.

The military has surely taught you tons of valuable skills. Both soft and hard skills.

If you are wondering what skills you can list on your military to civilian resume, here are a few, that you most likely possess, but don’t know how to list:

  • Reliable team player
  • Strong problem solver
  • Critical thinker
  • Team leader
  • Detail-oriented

These are all extremely valuable skills to most employers, and there would be no doubt about your strengths in them on your military to civilian resume.

Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to just the skills you have gained in the military. Think about all the skills you have from earlier on in life.

For creating your skills section correctly, it is usually best to create a list of all your skills and pick the most relevant ones for your current resume.

Don’t forget to tailor your skills section, and your whole resume, for every job position you are applying for.

Just like in the resume summary, you can work greatly with keywords from the job listing in your skills section.

Education

Another section that you would need on your resume is your education section.

That’s where you should list all your academic accomplishments.

Make sure you start with the highest degree you have earned, as it is the most important one. It is best to list only associate’s, bachelor’s, master's, and doctoral degrees on your resume.

The only reason you need to consider including your high school education is if you have not pursued higher education.

No matter what the degree and institution is, you need to list the same things for each entry:

  • Name of Academic Institution
  • Degree you have earned
  • Graduation date
  • GPA
  • Honors (if applicable)

That’s also where you should list any extra courses or workshops you took while in the military.

If you have any certification relevant to the position, you should list those too.

One way to go is to include them in your education section, but if you would like to, you can also create a separate certifications section.

Tips and tricks for your military to civilian resume

That’s all you need to know about your military to civilian resume. But we wouldn’t let you go without giving you some extra tips and tricks to get you going.

Plan your career path while still in the military

It might seem obvious to you, but that is often not the case. Many people leave the military without a plan of what they would like to do afterward.

The shift  to civilian life is hard enough as it is, so you would want to make it a little easier by having plans for the future.

The first thing you need to do is pick a few industries that you are interested in. As soon as you are ready with this, you need to do some research on each one.

Different industries require different experience levels and sets of skills. That’s why you need to know where you have enough transferable experience and skills.

If you have not thought about that yet, don’t panic. Just think about it and make your post-military plan as soon as possible.

Don’t use too many military acronyms or jargon

While in the military, you have probably gotten used to using acronyms and jargon. That is okay, but only while you are still in the military.

As soon as you leave it, all that would probably make no sense to a civilian. And that’s one more thing you need to adapt to.

You would want to make your military experience as clear as possible to the hiring manager.

Make sure you take the time to translate all your military experience into words that the hiring manager would definitely understand.

Takeaways

When you’re shifting back to a civilian lifestyle, finding a non-military-related job can be tricky. You’ve worked so hard during your military career, there’s no way you aren’t used to a completely different lifestyle.

Just don’t forget to:

  • Think about what you’re great at and use that point of view to impress the hiring manager.
  • Skip on the jargon and strictly military speech, as most civilians won’t understand you.
  • Show that you’re a great team player and fast thinker in critical situations.
  • Focus on accomplishments rather than being afraid you have mostly military experience.