Get your Military Resume in Shape

So you have been mulling over hanging your boots and taking the plunge into civil society. You have heard about ex-Veterans having a blazing second career and those whose second careers have simply not taken off. Understandably, you are concerned. You were in the smart kid category when you joined the Academy. You have a list of military accomplishments, and have won hard earned decorations in the service of the country. How do you now transfer your military experience to a civilian job?

Define your next job: The best way to do this is to search the job portals – both open to all and company specific. You will get a sense of the jobs available in the market. Which jobs appeal most to you? Which skills do you have which can add value to these jobs? Research different options and think about your next career path. A common mistake that most military resumes have is that they are often too generic. The prospective employer does not get a sense of how this person can add value to the specific role. I recommend that if you would like to explore a couple of goals, then make different resumes for each goal. If you are having trouble with this step, talk to a career coach. 

Customize your resume: This is very critical. The medal you won for excellent marksmanship, probably does not belong in a resume for a civilian job. There could be some awards which are relevant. A very common mistake is that military resumes often don’t know what to omit and can reach upto 4-5 pages. The military life is so entwined with family life, that very often the military resume will contain details about family, which is definitely not needed for a job application. This is a very hard step for a military person. You need to critically evaluate your experience and ask yourself “Does this experience/award, need to be up there?”

Speak to the layman: There is no guarantee that the person who receives the resume has any knowledge of the military. Hence, make the resume such that the language talks to the layman. Elaborate on the job responsibility. For e.g. what does quartermaster mean? Show your resume to a civilian friend and ask them if they understand the resume. 

Portray your accomplishments correctly: You need to portray your accomplishments in a quantifiable manner. E.g. I was able to reduce costs of the unit by 15%, by re-engineering the purchase process. You can incorporate an award into accomplishments by writing it as “I made a database for all supplies, with the capability to generate reports. This was done in a short period of 2 months. “ This way, your resume clearly communicates the value that you bring to the table. 

Be Bold & Flaunt your skills: There are many aspects of military experience, which are coveted by employers. Leadership, teamwork, positive work attitude, manage with less are but some of these. You need to list all the key attributes and make sure they are included in your resume. The resume needs to be SEO (Search Engine Optimized) ready. Get the help of a talent resume coach to ensure this is covered. 

Maintain Confidentiality: So, you had access to confidential information.  Or you were in actual battle. There is absolutely no need to talk too about such details. It is not relevant for the employer, and your nation has to remain first. Be careful that your resume does not leak any confidential information. 

Note: The author herself has is from a military family and has worked with senior veterans from India, USA, and UK.

I am passionate about helping individuals maximize their career potential. With over 15 years of HR leadership experience, I offer a professional, personalized and affordable resume refresh experience.

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