Your civilian resume summarizes your background and experience, and it’s likely to be the first information about you that an employer will see.
With your military service, you already have impressive skills and knowledge. These tips will help you make a resume that will stand out.
Collect Your Assets
- Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) through the Department of Defense. Your VMET will give an overview of the skills you’ve gained in the military.
- Make a list of your technical skills.
- Computer technicians, mechanics and engineers have skills that can be easily converted to civilian jobs.
- Convert your military job training into civilian terms. For example, budgeting is a critical skill in civilian companies.
- Make a list of your intangible skills. This list should include leadership, discipline and a strong work ethic.
Select Your Resume Style
Your resume should highlight your unique qualifications. There are different ways to organize your resume. Pick a style that highlights your strengths.
- Chronological resume
- Your employment history is highlighted in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.
- Include your responsibilities and accomplishments under each particular job.
- Functional resume
- Your skills are highlighted. Your work history and gaps are de-emphasized.
- Skills and accomplishments should be divided into specific areas of expertise.
- Combination resume
- Your skills earned in various jobs are highlighted using a job history format.
- Your specific skills will form the main body of the resume, followed by a concise employment history.
Include These Essential Components:
- Contact information: In the heading, include your name, address, phone number and email address.
- Objective or job target: In one or two lines, say what kind of job you’re looking or applying for and what makes you uniquely qualified.
- Summary of qualifications: This is a bulleted section just below the objective in the visual center of the resume.
- Include five or six lines highlighting the skills that qualify you for the job.
- This will include your experience, certifications and related training.
- Title this section Highlights of Qualifications, Summary of Skills or Summary of Experience.
- Employment history: This will vary depending on the type of resume.
- Education and training: List colleges, schools or military training schools you attended. You can list the school’s name and location, but not necessarily the dates.
- Special skills: Include foreign languages, computer skills or any other relevant skills that will set you apart.
Make Your Resume Unique to You
You’ve got the basics down. Now use your resume to showcase your unique abilities and accomplishments.
- Target your resume. Change and tailor your resume for the job you’re targeting. Learn what this employer looks for and highlight those qualities.
- Translate everything into civilian terms.
- For example, replace “officer in charge” with “managed.”
- Take out the acronyms and use terms civilians understand. For example, replace “SNOIC for 2d MarDiv G-3, planning and executing all logistics for operations conducted in our AOR” with “Supervised staff of 15 people. Planned and coordinated operations conducted by various subordinate units within our division.”
- Include your accomplishments. Use numbers to highlight achievements, if possible. For example, “Managed budget of $100K” or “Reduced training time from 26 weeks to 24 weeks.”
- Be concise. Limit your resume to one or two pages.
- Include volunteer experience if it’s relevant to the job. Volunteer experience can add to credibility and character.
- Leave off unnecessary details. Don’t include marital status, height and weight or religious affiliation. Leave off salary information unless it was explicitly requested.
- Check spelling and accuracy. Proofread your resume, ask someone else to proofread it and read your resume backward to catch typos.
Write a Cover Letter
Always send a cover letter with your resume. Your cover letter will explain why you’re interested in the position and how your skills make you the best choice for the job.
- Get the name of the person in charge of hiring. Send your email or cover letter to them. Usually, you can just call the company and ask for their name.
- Mention the job that you’re applying for in the first paragraph. Focus on describing how your skills and abilities can help the company.
- Keep it to one page. Use a business-letter format.
- Always follow up. Mention that you will call to follow up, and don’t forget to do it.
Tap Into Resume-Building Tools
These websites have tools to help you build your resume and translate your military credentials and experience into civilian skills. They reference veterans, but they’re also for active duty.
- Veterans.gov from the U.S. Department of Labor has an online job exchange with access to employers, skills translators, resume builders, interest profilers, etc.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs at va.gov offers an interest profiler, educational and career counseling and links to other job resources, such as support for veteran-owned small businesses.
Prepare for Your Job Search Early
The earlier you can start your preparation for civilian employment, the better. The Transition Assistance Program office on your installation can help you get started. Military OneSource also offers the Transitioning Veterans specialty consultation to further assist you in transitioning from the military to civilian life.
Taking the next step in your career can be intimidating, but it’s far from impossible. You are qualified and equipped with the right tools. Go get them!