So you're leaving the service and are faced with the daunting task of developing your resume. No doubt your military career is studded with accomplishments, but even the most decorated veteran needs to figure out how to make the transition to a civilian position. Instructions are listed below.
What is Your Civilian Job Objective?
You can't effectively market yourself for a civilian job if you don't have a clearly defined goal. Before writing your resume, research occupations and pinpoint a specific career path. If you find that you cannot set only one goal, you can have multiple resumes.
Create a Resume Employers' Want to Read
Now that your objective is defined, you are ready to go and write that eye-popping resume. Consider a resume's purpose: To answer the employer's question, "What can this person do for me?" Know what the employer wants and write your resume to their needs and job postings. Research what types of skills and experiences employers are seeking. What aspects of your military and civilian background are most relevant?
Any information that does not relate to your goal should be eliminated or de-emphasized, and this includes any unrelated military awards, training and distinctions. For example, that medal you won for rifle marksmanship doesn't belong on a civilian resume. This is often the hardest step for ex-military personnel, which is why it's so common to see military resumes span five pages or longer. As you make the decision about which information to include, ask yourself, "Will a potential employer care about this experience?" Only include information that will help you land an interview.
When Writing Your Resume Assume the Employer Does Not Know You
Demilitarize your job titles, duties, accomplishments, training and awards to appeal to civilian hiring managers. Employers with no military background don't understand military terminology, so translate these into words they can understand. Show your resume to several non-military friends and ask them to point out terms they don't understand.
Highlight Your Past Accomplishments
Your military career has offered you excellent opportunities for training, practical experience and advancement. Tell them about your accomplishments so the average civilian understands the importance of your achievements.
* Here's an example of a demilitarized accomplishment statement:
"Increased employee retention rate by 16 percent by focusing on training, team building and recognition programs. Earned reputation as one of the most progressive and innovative IT organizations in the Army's communications and IT community."
* Here's an example of incorporating a military award so employers understand its value:
"Received Army Achievement Medal for completing 400+ medical evaluations and developing patient database using MS Access. The database improved reporting functions and tracked patient demographics, records, medication, appointments and status."
Make Your Military Background Stand Out
You might have heard you need to downplay your military experience, but the opposite is true. Your military background is an asset and should be marketed as such. Many employers realize the value of bringing veterans on board. Attributes honed in the military include dedication, leadership, teamwork, positive work ethic and cross-functional skills. If you fear a potential employer won't realize the significance of your military experience, make sure your resume clearly communicates the value that you bring to the table.
If You Were in Active Combat, Do Not Specify the Details
Defending your country and its interests is among the most admirable pursuits, but the sad truth is actual references to the horrors of combat leave many employers squeamish. While you might have worked in a short-range air defense engagement zone, this experience might not relate to your future goal. Tone down or remove references to the battlefield.
♦ Click here to view a sample military resume
Professional Military Resume
Usar Unit AdministratorXxxx Xxxxxxxxxxxx
Master of Business Administrator in Finance, University of Texas (20xx)
Bachelor of Science, University of Texas (20xx)