How To Write a Military-Civilian Resume

When job hunting, having a great resume is an essential tool for securing an interview. This documentation represents and provides the necessary information to recruiters.

Having finished serving in the military, you now wish to transition into a civilian career.

Only, doing this is not always as easy as you might think. Identifying skills and experiences you obtained during your military service that would appeal to a civilian recruiting team is vital to writing a military-civilian resume.

In this write-up we provide you with information on how to write a military-civilian resume and improve your chances of landing that new job.

What to Consider before Writing a Resume?

Before getting together the information you need and starting to write your resume, you have to identify and understand its objectives. What should your documentation strive to achieve?

The Objectives of Writing a Resume

  • It should highlight your skills, achievements, and work experience, while also portraying these attributes in a manner that is attractive to a recruiting team.
  • It should influence job recruiters to offer you a shot at interview for the position for which you have applied.
  • It should also double up as a guide for interviews.

The Jobs Available for You

You need to identify the careers which are available for you, then narrow your list to those where your skillsets are most valued.

There are various ways in which you can find veteran jobs, some of which include researching job postings and connecting with veteran job fairs.

Steps to Writing an Ideal Military-Civilian Resume

Below is a list of steps that can help you develop a resume for your civilian career. You could always get professional help and advice from military to civilian resume writing services.

The Main Focus of your Resume should be your Future Self

Many veterans seeking jobs in the civilian industry fall prey to this mistake. They tend to spend too much time discussing skill-sets that highlight their past rather than those necessary to achieve success in their new field.

Yes, stating the prominent skill-set that saw you excel while in service is not necessarily a bad idea, but it is best if you only touch on this briefly (unless the role you are applying for requires it!).

Focus your resume on skills that help to highlight the perception you want the recruiting team to have of you. Your goal should be to come across as one who is fit for the job and adorned with the necessary skills to carry out the perfect job.

Keep in mind that not all your skills need to be listed on your resume, only those relevant to your new job.

Avoid using Military Terminology Foreign to Recruiters

Unless you are going to employed as a civilian by the military, few recruiters are knowledgeable with military terms and acronyms. This means that when you use such terminology in your resume, most of the information may fly over their heads – putting you at a disadvantage.

Recruiters have a hard enough time sorting out potential candidates from the numerous applicants, so use terminology that is easy to understand, and yet professional and related to the field of your application.

Your best bet to navigating this possible pitfall is to have the perception that the recruiting team does not know anything about the military. This way you do not lose focus and keep your written language and tone to that of a civilian.

Your write-up should have no place for military code, acronyms, or technical jargon. Don’t use “AFB” in place of “Base”, or “Non-Commissioned” in place of “Supervisor”, for example.

Thanks to the internet, getting the civilian equivalent of your designated job title in service can be relatively easy. There are numerous sites available online to help you convert your military job description into its civilian equivalent, which recruiters will be more easily able to understand.

To perform this you will need basic information such as your military branch, job description, or military occupational specialty (MOS) code if applicable.

State your Educational Background and Relevant Training

Highlight relevant formal education and training you have under your belt. It is common to see resumes filled with educational qualifications that are not needed for the job – you should avoid this practice in your resume.

If your training or educational qualifications are not relevant, but could improve your standing with the recruiter, you should create a separate section for such information.

State your Secondary Skills Relevant to the Position

Remember not all acquired skills from your service years are limited to your job description.

When in military service it is only natural that you also pick up some secondary skills.

Some of these skills include mentorship, leadership, discipline, attentiveness to details, and high level of concentration even when under duress.

Find creative ways to subtly input this knowledge in your resume.

Sell and Polish your Military Experience

One of the objectives of your resume is to entice the recruiting team into considering you as a viable candidate for the job position you are applying for.

You must sell your military experience, in a civilian light, as best as you can. Here is an example to guide you.

  • The military experience:
    • Led a 10-man assault team in successfully carrying out combat missions.
    • Helped provide tactics and technical guidance which assisted commanding officers and subordinates in completing multiple missions.
  • How to demonstrate this in a civilian resume:
    • Led a 10 person team in achieving multiple set objectives.
    • Was instrumental in completing multiple organisational challenges as I provided my team and superiors with the required strategies to attain success.


Leadership skills and managerial skills are highlighted in the example described above.

The latter explains the hierarchy described in the former with its civilian equivalent. “Subordinates” and “commanding officers” are switched out for “my team” and “superiors”. This wordplay prevents the recruiting team from limiting your ability to lead and manage is limited to the military field only.

Selling your Accomplishments

It is best to input numerical values to improve the sense of your accomplishments where applicable.

For accomplishments that can not be quantified, or maybe difficult to quantify, dedicate about two sentences to discuss them. Ensure you highlight the attributes of such accomplishments relevant to your applied job.

Input your Certificates and Clearances

Providing a list of your security clearances and certifications is beneficial and also a welcome idea on your resume.

These pieces of information could sway the recruiting team into selecting you for the job, as acquiring such certifications and clearances are often expensive.

How Relevant is your Combat Experience?

Ask yourself the above question before putting down active combat experience in your resume.

Is such experience relevant to the position you are applying for? Outside law enforcement and security fields, there are few careers where this is necessary.

While it is valiant to have defended the country there is a chance that some recruiters may be wary of the ill effects of such experiences on veterans.

Final Thoughts

The first step to securing a civilian job after a military career is to identify a job that suits your skills.

Highlight your skills and experience in understandable civilian terms.

Also remember to highlight educational qualifications, training, certifications, and security clearances.


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