Transition from military life to the civilian world is something quite a few struggle with. The lingo, structure, and well, everything is very different. When you are in the military, you know where to be and at what time, what to wear, and what needs to get done for the day. Civilian life is a little more…. relaxed.
For some, this can prove to be difficult to navigate. Especially when it comes to finding a job in the outside world. Resume writing in general seems to be an art, but interpreting military skills into a plausible language to get a job in the civilian sector that isn’t minimum wage- well, that can seem impossible at first.
First thing’s first with a resume, you will have two. The first one is a shell that shows details of every job held for around the last 10 years (20 if you are going for a senior management level position). This is the resume you will base the second version off of, which will be a ‘targeted’ resume. This is the resume you will change and use for each job you apply for, making sure it fits the exact job you are attempting to get. (For more in-depth info, click here for a reference.)
Second, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate resume sections. If you look at the job ad you are applying for, it may even hint with different keywords on what sections you should incorporate. Words like ‘objective,’ ‘work history,’ ‘applicable skills,’ etc. are what you may see. If you look up different resume examples, you will also see the aforementioned words as titled sections on a resume.
Third, you will need to focus on the details. Again, the job advertisement may even tell you to list to-from dates, a point of contact, job title, description, and so forth. Even if it does not say, typically a job title, the dates worked and a description of what you did are important. Now, if you have been Active the whole time, you would list different jobs you held (e.g. supply sergeant, training NCO, platoon leader, etc.).
Next, take out the military jargon and try to stay away from using “I” in your sentences. Instead of “I did this” or “I was in charge of that,” say “assisted section to accomplished this task” or “trained, supervised x amount of personnel to perform this task.” Not sure how to translate your skills into civilian plain speak? There are plenty of resources online. All you have to do is enter your MOS, rank achieved, and on some, the schools you accomplished and it will output relatable civilian skills and jobs to search. (Click here for Military.com’s skill translator)
Last, keep it simple. Resumes need to be 1-2 pages max, have clear sections with titles (bold them to stand out), give a full idea of your job history, education level, and relevant experience. There is no need for fancy graphics, text, or anything else that may draw attention away from your actual experience. Also, do NOT ever use ‘text speak’! While it is the 20th century, this is a MAJOR turn off for most employers and they will automatically trash your resume.
There is no right way to write resumes 100% of the time, but there are wrong ways. The more advanced and technical job sphere requires even a little more than what we mentioned above, so do your research. Make sure you know how to utilize keywords from job advertisements within your descriptors and know when to stay away from irrelevant items in your job history.
Still need help? That is okay! Find a good friend in a similar position to what you would like and ask them to review your resume or send theirs as an example. Search for additional resources, walk into a resource center, or look online for examples.
Transitioning is never easy and no matter what you did in the service, what your current skill level is, or what your future goals are, you do deserve a well-paying job. We hope this helped!
Additional resources we found, used to write this article: