Condensing even just a few years of military service onto one piece of paper is no easy challenge, especially when taking the difficulty of translating military achievements to “civilian speak” into consideration. However, to get that office job servicemen and women need to rethink how their resumes are written.
There are many challenges in writing a resume for the general public after years working in a military mindset that is more focused on acronyms and objectives vs. a mindset focused on ROI and cost-benefit analysis.
Fortunately translating a military resume into a civilian resume is more than just possible, it can actually result in a resume that stands above other civilian resumes because of the unique and inherent skills involved with dedicated military service.
The below tips were based off of this professional Senior Combat Engineer resume template and writing guide.
Write for a Hiring Manager and Not for an Officer
Getting the tone and vocabulary down is the most important part in properly translating a military resume. Acronyms don’t mean a thing to civilian HR manager.
It’s critical to first change your mindset before writing your civilian resume.
Use a military-to-civilian occupation translator to help turn your military occupation code into applicable civilian occupations to find out what type of resume you’ll need to write.
Target Positions in Which you Have Directly Relevant Skills
Once you’ve used a MOC translator you’ll have an idea of what the civilian variation of your military career is and you can go about finding jobs and positions that you are qualified for. You can apply to as many jobs as you want, but like shots, if they’re not on target they won’t count.
For example, if you are an air force vet you are most likely very qualified for a plethora of private aviation jobs. Transport, IT and engineering transfer with equal fluidity into the private sector.
Applying to a job where you already have years of experience will do a lot in progressing your civilian career. If the MOC translator comes up empty you may want to consider going back to school to pursue a different career path.
Translate The Transferable Skills you Do Have Into Civilian Workplace Lingo
The most challenging part translating a military resume is actually finding replacement words for the lingo you’ve come to view as “standard” during your years of service yet is anything but to the layperson.
This means translating things such as “Army Arms Combat Generalist’s” skills into something simpler and broadly appreciated such as “risk management skills”.
Likewise you could highlight the “critical thinking skills” required of any proficient Navy Information Warfare Officer, or the “leadership abilities” of a Marine Infantry Officer.
Don’t just list your MOC IDs and military acronyms, as they may make perfect sense to you but won’t mean anything to a civilian reader.
Tackle the above “Big 3” translation hurdles and you’ll be poised at the top of the pack amongst job hunters as the a career in the military provides individuals with proven skills inherent to the responsibilities of service men and women.
To make sure your resume is fully “civilian-ified” send it to a few friends who aren’t vets and ask for an honest critique. If it makes sense to your college friends or significant other then it will probably pass mustard with the HR’s as well.