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How to add military experience to a resume

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Misty Edwards
2525 Elm Street

Magnolia, Georgia
[email protected]

Military Experience
Cyber Network Defender 08/2015-Present

Fort Hayes, Georgia

  • Responded to emergency situations in the network to address cyber threats to computer systems.
  • Utilized reports and information to identify potential threats to the network and implemented security measures to protect confidential data and information.
  • Regularly conducted assessments of the information systems to identify vulnerabilities and threats.

Information Technology Specialist 05/2013-8/2015

Fort Gordon, Georgia

  • Managed military computer systems and performed routine maintenance and security checks.
  • Developed specialized computer programs and supervised testing and editing of these applications.
  • Trained and supervised a team of 10 information specialists in analyzing complex computing problems and identifying solutions.

Work History
Computer Lab Assistant 08/2010-08/2012
Magnolia College, Magnolia, Georgia

  • Managed the help desk at college computing lab and provided support to students who needed assistance.
  • Provided routine maintenance of computer hardware and software and regularly updated the systems.

Sales Associate 06/2009-08/2010
Best Buy, Magnolia, Georgia

  • Assisted customers with finding electronics that met their needs and budget.
  • Educated customers on the features of many different types of electronics.
  • Achievement Medal, Information Technology, Fort Gordon (2014)
  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude, Magnolia College (2012)
  • Trained in computer programming software
  • Skilled in maintenance and repair of computer hardware
  • Knowledge of code and programming languages JavaScript and Python
  • Expert knowledge of Microsoft Office
  • Proficient in Spanish

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

As a member of the U.S military, one cultivates valuable skills and experience that come in handy in the civilian workforce.

However, translating this information and getting the message across during a job hunt can be a struggle. With only thirty seconds to impress the hiring manager, you need them to understand what you can offer. So, to learn how to add military experience to a resume, follow these steps.

● Avoid military jargon or acronyms

One of the significant steps of presenting your military experience on a resume is doing away with military jargon and acronyms. Any hiring manager should be in a position to understand all the information you have outlined in your resume. None of them have the time to research what the military jobs you held means.

Make it easier for them, according to, who offer essay writing services. Use plain language to explain all your experience, rankings, duties, and accomplishments. Also, utilize online tools that rephrase military terms into words understandable to civilians. In this way, the hiring managers understand and appreciate all you have to offer without much struggle.

● Focus on military experience that shows your leadership characteristics

Another step in transforming a military to civilian resume is exhibiting your main strengths. Many employers want potential employees who are go-getters and independent. So, according to WikiHow, capitalize on all your skills that depict your leadership positions and achievements in the military.

Among what to put under leadership on resume include leadership positions, training, solving problems, teamwork, and excellent communication skills. To be successful at this, you will need to have an art of matching military experience to the position of interest by finding where these characteristics overlap.

For example, if you were in charge of the infantry (training) in the military and you are eyeing a customer service job. You need to show how leadership and problem-solving skills came in and the experience you got that relate to the position.

● List your military positions, responsibilities & honors

While writing your resume is aimed at introducing you to the civilian workforce, your military experience is essential to your job hunt. However much you need to translate it, you need to let employers know how valuable an army member you were. If you still feel that your resume is not perfect you can ask professionals:

“Will you rewrite my resume?”. They offer resume writing services, including them in a different section of military experience. Begin by noting down the military positions and skills you have had. For example, were you a Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, or Major General?

Next, list your accomplishments such as promotions, initiatives you introduced, and training you spearheaded. Indeed also encourages you to include military honors as well and any training expertise.

● List any technical skills

Another step to transform a veteran resume into a civilian one is outlining your technical skills. While your military experience may be impressive, other job applicants may have just as remarkable experiences too. So, to stand out, you need to show any additional technical expertise you acquired during your military career, which makes you an ideal employee. Such could include foreign languages learned, budgeting skills, skills in computer programming, analysis of intelligence, and managing projects. Such technical skills bring out your hands-on proficiencies that are vital in today’s job market.

● Proofread and edit your resume

Going through your resume and editing it is another step you should not ignore when adding military experience to a civilian resume. You want to put across all your qualifications and expertise so that the hiring manager can get to know you. So, having mistakes and typos in your resume is unacceptable. An experienced job seeker needs to be perfect, and having excellent writing skills is the way to go. Ensure you read through your resume as many times as possible and identify typos, grammatical, spelling, or punctuation mistakes. Correct them and ensure your writing goes straight to the point; it is clear and explains everything about you.

● Ask a civilian to read your resume and make notes

While you may be good at correcting mistakes and drafting a resume to perfection, according to, fresh eyes are better. In this case, a non-military individual would be ideal, as they have composed several civilian resumes before. Also, you are transforming your resume from what you know to what an ordinary person would understand. So, a civilian would be better at letting you know whether you have succeeded. Have them make notes on what they think about it, and what they recommend that you change.

Adding experience gained through military work to a civilian resume can seem like an impossible task to undertake. However, all those valuable skills you have acquired over the years are vital in making you a capable employee. With only a few minutes to tell a hiring manager why you are the ideal candidate, these steps will make civilians understand you. It will present your experience hence, giving you a shot at the job you want.

Quick Navigation:

Transitioning into a civilian career may take some time for former military personnel. It is best to choose a specific career path before you begin updating your resume for your job search. Each military job has different experiences and it is important to identify the military experience that is applicable to jobs you are interested in. In this article, you can learn what military experience is, how to list military experience on your resume and review some examples that show how you can list your military experience on your resume.

What is military experience?

Military experience consists of any relevant job experience obtained while enlisted in a branch of military service. This may include any skills, achievements, duties, discipline or other experiences an individual has gained during active service in the military.

How to list military experience on your resume

Here are a few steps you may follow to list military experience on your resume:

1. First, create a separate section called ‘Military experience’

It is important to list your military work experience separately from your other work experience. The goal is to create a resume that is easy for employers to read and understand. Under the main section title, you can then choose to organize your work experience with sub-sections under your job title, listed in reverse chronological order. Your most recent position in the military should be listed first and your oldest position should be at the bottom.

If you do not have other work experience, then you may simply include your military experience under a ‘Relevant experience’ section.

2. Second, use simple and easy-to-understand language

Your military experience should be listed in a way that is easy for recruiters to comprehend. Military terminology and codes that are used to describe a job title or experience should be avoided in your resume since many civilian recruiters and employers likely won’t understand what they mean. You may use your military job title instead of your military occupational specialty. For example, instead of listing your job position as a commissioned officer, you can list it as a supervisor. There are many websites you can search for that will offer a civilian translation of your military job title if you are unable to figure out the correct translation.

3. Third, list experience with bullet points

The best way to list your military experience is by using bullet points and by keeping each line short while maintaining an accurate description of the duties you performed. When you list your experience, it is also important to extract keywords from job descriptions. For example, if the job you are applying for wants to hire someone who has experience with bookkeeping or budgeting, then you should add those exact keywords to your relevant experience if they are applicable.

It is also important to avoid using detailed experiences from active combat or deployment in your resume. You will need to consider how to word your experience with combat operations in a way that is relevant to the jobs you are interested in applying for. For example, you may include missions you assisted with if it includes relevant leadership skills or conflict resolution.

4. Fourth, focus on leadership experience

Leadership experience is valuable in a wide range of jobs and occupations. The best way to convey leadership experience is to include action words in civilian terms. For example, you can state that you ‘provided strategic advice to meet team operational goals resulting in standards being met.’ Listing leadership experience this way will make hiring managers aware that your leadership experience can extend beyond military exercises and battle plans.

5. Fifth, highlight your accomplishments

It is important to highlight small and large accomplishments in your resume. This may include things such as successfully decreasing the number of unexpected repairs on a submarine, aircraft or another mechanical system in the military; or achievements, honors and awards that you received during active duty. It’s important to spotlight your accomplishments to emphasize your strengths and expertise. Employers will likely notice and be impressed with your dedication. This will give them a more accurate idea of your work ethic and your ability to produce results.

Examples for listing military experience on your resume

Here are some examples of how you can list military experience on your resume:

Example #1

Distributions Supervisor – U.S. Marine Corps

  • Developed an effective routing and transportation system with five team members to safely transport $30 million dollars worth of supplies
  • Monitored all transportation operations, ensuring quality control and all distribution methods met regulatory requirements
  • Managed routing, dispatching, shipping and tracking of equipment to certify safe and effective delivery
  • Trained new personnel on all operations and distributions systems

Example #2

Information Technology Specialist Supervisor – U.S. Army

  • Supervised a team of 15 Information Technology Specialists
  • Developed complex computer programming
  • Analyzed computer systems to identify issues and initiated resolutions
  • Performed security checks and routine maintenance on computer systems
  • High honors achievement medal, Information Security Systems, Fort Carson (2008)

Example #3

Operations Officer – U.S. Navy

  • Set short-term and long-term objectives for strategic maneuvers to achieve cross-departmental goals
  • Conducted meetings to communicate operational expectations and goals
  • Evaluated information and advised teams based on careful analysis of operational information

When including military experience on your resume, it may be helpful to think about the wording you use to describe your experience in a way that makes sense to civilian recruiters. You should demonstrate your experience, accomplishments and skills in a way that translates your hard-work and your ability to adapt to civilian employment.

Presenting your military experience on your resume is key for making the career transition from military to civilian life. Translating your military experience into common workplace skills can help employers identify the value of your service to their organizations. In this article, we will discuss the reasons for including your military experience on your resume and how to present your experience for potential employers.

You can also fill out our Military Indeed Resume Review questionnaire to receive personalized feedback from a professional resume writer.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Why show military experience on your resume?

The time you served in the military can make you more desirable to employers for several reasons. Showing your military experience on your resume helps potential employers understand the tasks you performed in the military and the skills you acquired that may benefit their organizations. Your military experience can also help your resume stand out from other applicants. Including military experience on your resume shows potential employers you have the following desirable qualities:

  • Leadership
  • A strong work ethic
  • Discipline
  • Integrity
  • Discretion
  • Respect for superiors
  • Reliability
  • Resourcefulness
  • The ability to work as part of a team

How to add military experience to your resume

Incorporate your military experience throughout your resume. Add military experience to your resume using the same format as work experience, with the most recent positions listed first. Supplemental sections can highlight your honors and skills. Once you are satisfied with your resume, you can start submitting it to potential employers with jobs that match your skillset.

Follow these steps to add your military experience to your resume:

  1. Write your summary.
  2. List your military positions and responsibilities.
  3. List any military honors.
  4. List any additional training or technical skills.
  5. Proofread and revise your resume.

Ask a non-military contact to read your resume.

###1. Write your summary.
If your military experience is recent, it deserves a place in your resume summary. Mention the position you hope to obtain with your application, the position you held while serving and the experience or qualities that make you suitable for this role. Four or five lines of text are ideal. If your military experience is not recent, you may omit it from your summary.

###2. List your military positions and responsibilities.
Create a military experience section with subheadings listing your military positions and the dates you held each position. Separating your military experience from regular work experience, if applicable, helps it stand out.

Add a bulleted list of your responsibilities and achievements under each position. Highlight military experience that uses skills required in the jobs you are applying for. Look for keywords in job descriptions to make sure you are targeting the right skills. Quantify your achievements with statistics where possible.

###3. List any military honors.
Your military honors prove your excellence and commitment to your work, so make sure you include them on your resume. Receiving any military medals, awards or an honorable discharge should all be included to showcase your achievements and service. Consider listing honors under the specific military role in which you earned them or create a separate supplemental military honors section.

###4. List any additional training or technical skills.
Add a separate training and skills section to show further experience gained in the military. This section could include details of the languages you learned while serving abroad or training programs you undertook, even if you did not use the training during your military career.

###5. Proofread and revise your resume.
Proofreading and revising your resume helps you identify typos and spelling and grammatical mistakes before you apply for jobs. Correct these problems to demonstrate an attention to detail as well as show your commitment to professionalism.

###6. Ask a non-military contact to read your resume.
A non-military contact can identify parts of your resume that may not be clear enough to civilians. Use their feedback to refine your resume so your military experience is clearer to potential employers. If you make substantial changes, you may like to get your contact to read your resume again to confirm that they can understand it.

Tips for adding military experience to your resume

Follow these tips to add your military experience to your resume:

  • Use plain language. Any potential employer should be able to understand the experience you have outlined in your resume. You can offer clear explanations for military terminology, including acronyms, some rankings, duties and accomplishments.

Be clear and concise. A clear, concise resume is easily read and understood by potential employers. Including only relevant details will help streamline your resume. For example, you may focus on your work developing mission plans, as these show your leadership and problem-solving ability, but omit details of your combat missions. Your resume should be between one and two pages.

Include all relevant information. Use your resume to celebrate your achievements. While resumes should be concise, they should include all the information employers need to understand your experience and accomplishments.

Use keywords. Include keywords featured in job descriptions in your resume to show employers you are a good match for their positions. These keywords can also help your resume pass Applicant Tracking System software that searches for specific words and phrases preferred by employers to quickly identify the strongest resumes.

Resume with military experience example

Use this example of resume with military experience as a guide for incorporating your own military history into your resume:

Cameron Flanagan
(298) 307-0845
[email protected]

Police officer with 8 years’ experience with US Air National Guard seeking a senior police role. Successfully trained 120 team members and reduced disciplinary incidences within unit by 30%.

Security Forces Staff Sergeant
US Air National Guard, 2013–2019

  • Led teams supporting operations and security
  • Trained 120 team members on collective and individual security procedures
  • Used attention to detail providing surveillance, safety inspections and asset security checks
  • Managed disciplinary actions in the team, cutting incidents by 30%
  • Developed problem-solving skills working with superiors to improve security metrics, routinely before deadlines

Security Specialist
US Air National Guard, 2011–2012

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Best Tips on How to Add Military Experience to Civilian Resume

Job applications can be tiresome and overwhelming more so if you have a military background. Transitioning from military to civilian life is not easy as you need to ensure that you translate our military experience into skills and abilities that will impress the hiring manager. But, experts who cooperate with reliable online resume service state that you should not fret as they are there to help you. Furthermore, below are some tips that you can use to learn how to add military experience to a civilian resume.

Do not use military jargons or acronyms

Your hiring manager is not familiar with military jargon or acronyms. Hence, when translating your achievements, military ranking, and duties, ensure you do so in a language that they can understand. For instance, you can try using online tools that can rephrase military vocabulary into civilian terms such as a one-ton line. Or, you can restate your military background to someone who is not in the military and see if they comprehend.

Focus on military background that shows your best characteristics

Many recruiters want candidates who can embrace ingenuity and be self-starters. Thus, you need to include your military experience on a resume that pinpoints any headship positions you held. Prove to your hiring managers that you have the confidence and the knack or propensity to be assertive and lead others, when necessary. Whether you were the leader of a small group or a large team, you had the responsibility of delegating tasks to others.

Include your military positions, responsibilities, and honors

Develop a military background section with subheadings on your document. List all the military posts and the dates you held each of them. Alienating your military background from your day-to-day work experience will not only make your resume stand out but also show that you know what to put under leadership on the resume.
Additionally, you need to incorporate your military honors. These prove your merit and obligation to your work. List these honors under the particular roles you earned them.

Proofread and edit

Proofreading and editing are some of the fundamental steps in creating a perfect veteran resume. Additionally, it helps remove all the errors and showcase your commitment to expertise. So, go through your document to warranty that it does not encompass any spelling, grammatical, and punctuation mistakes. Moreover, you need to ensure that all the information you provide is correct and true to your knowledge.

Invite a civilian to read your resume and give you feedback

Another efficient technique of crafting the perfect military to civilian resume is to ask a civilian to read through your resume. They can identify the parts which may not be clear or articulate enough for hiring managers. Utilize their feedback to refine your document. This will help make your military experience more articulate to potential employers. In case you make any additional changes, have your civilian friend go through the document once more to ensure that they understand it.

In conclusion, veterans face the challenge of transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce. Irrespective of your professional background, elucidating what you did in relevant terms to someone who does not comprehend the translation of your qualifications can be overwhelming. Hence, you ought to ask for professional assistance to write the perfect military to civilian resume. Additionally, above are some tips and techniques that you can use to learn how to add military experience to a resume.

If you have comments or feedback about any article, please email your thoughts to [email protected]

About the Author

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Jasmin Throndson Advisor from Almont , MI 10 years experience

Jasmine Trondson is a freelance writer and editor in Southwestern Michigan. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Jasmine is fond of politics, social issues.

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How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Thousands of people enter the armed forces every day, and much gets said about the things they do while they’re out in the world, defending our country and whatnot.

But it’s easy to overlook the fact that all of these people need jobs once they come back from their service.

And it’s not always easy for them to explain to those who haven’t served just what makes their service so valuable to the workforce at large.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

So how does someone in this position relate their experiences to someone who has no frame of reference for what those experiences might mean?

Your friends here at Zippia have put together a guide to help you figure out precisely that.

1. What Do Employers Like to See in Applicants With Military Experience?

More than anything, someone with military experience understands how a chain of command works, and knows how to follow through with pretty much any set of marching orders they’re given.

Even if serving in the military came with no additional experience or other benefits, this would still be massively valuable to employers.

It’s tough to understate how much incompetence people in most industries face on a day to day basis, no matter what level of the company they’re in.

So when someone shows up who knows how to get things done quickly and efficiently, employers take notice fast.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

But of course, these skills aren’t the only ones employers need to see when they’re making the decision to hire somebody.

And people who have spent years in the military don’t always know the best way to describe the things that they’re capable of doing in less — well — military-specific terms.

2. How To Bring Up Military Experience on Your Resume

The first thing to remember when you’re trying to decide how to include your service on your resume is that you should absolutely include as much of your service as you can.

Never feel self-conscious about describing the specifics of the work you did — just keep in mind who’s going to be reading it.

You might get lucky and send it along to someone who knows exactly what certain terms mean — but you’re much more likely to encounter an employer whose closest connections to military service are through the Call of Duty matchmaking games they play on weekends.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

So keep the following things in mind when you’re listing your military experience on your resume:

  • Avoid acronyms and military-specific jargon. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be tough to remember which terms you’re familiar with because you’re a human who’s been alive as long as you have, and which ones you only know because of your service. Take care to exclude the latter ones where possible.
  • Leave out irrelevant certifications. If you trained as an electrical engineer while you were in the service, that’s probably a good thing to bring up. Weapons training is probably not quite as relevant.
  • List it the same way that you would any other work experience — even if the truth is a bit more complicated, anyone reading your resume should be able to understand the short version of your experience at a glance. Stick to a few short bullet points, and make sure to list dates.
  • Lastly, make sure that any training or certifications you have that isn’t totally self-explanatory gets at least a cursory description — and remember that you might have a different perspective of what is or isn’t self-explanatory.

3. How to Use Military Experience to Your Advantage During Your Interview

When you list military experience on your resume, that isn’t the end of the story.

Odds are that, one way or another, you’re still going to have to talk about it during your interview.

And depending on how well you’ve prepared to do so, the experience can be either easy enough or totally excruciating.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Keep these things in mind when describing your military experience during your interview:

  • One way or another, keep the conversation on topic. An employer might spend far too much time grilling you on your military experience, which can sometimes paint you in a light you’re not comfortable with. On the other hand, some civilian employers might be hesitant to bring up your military background out of nervousness. In either case, a balance is necessary — make sure it gets brought up, but don’t let it take things over.
  • If you have a decade or more of military experience, remember that the rules are the same as with civilian job experience — talk about the most relevant thing first. It’s not super useful to talk about your early training if you’ve been in the Armed Forces for a dozen or so years.
  • If the questions someone is asking regarding your service are inappropriate or too personal, don’t be afraid to shut them down. Your military experience is your own, and not for them to dissect — bring up what’s relevant, and make sure they respect your privacy about the rest.

Wrapping Up:

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind:

When talking about your experience, framing it as a story is the most important thing.

Regardless of whether you really “learned anything” in a big cosmic sense from your military experience, people are going to expect you to be able to codify the experience into some kind of employment-related fable.

That means becoming comfortable saying things like “doing [this particular thing I did] in the military really taught me about [some hogwash like responsibility or respect or something like that].”

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

It’s possible you really feel that you have some sort of major, easily-digestible takeaway from your experience — in which case, congratulations!

But life is messy, and often what an experience means to you can be tough to parse out.

So whatever you do, make sure you think about what your own service means to you beforehand, because — fair or not — people are going to expect you to have an answer on that count.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume


  • Learn how to translate your military experience to the civilian work
  • Provide a complete picture of your military experience

Transitioning out of uniform can be hard. Whether you are finishing one enlistment or retiring after 20 or more years, it is common to feel uncertain about your future—especially your career.

Finding a civilian job isn’t always easy. However, employment is important not just for your finances. It can also help your psychological health and overall well-being.

Fortunately, the military has given you training and skills that employers want. Also, each military branch has transition assistance programs. If you already left the service, the Department of Veterans Affairs has additional resources to help.

With a little work, and the following tips and resources, you can launch a new career and find a sense of purpose and belonging out of uniform.

Translate Your Experience

The first step to landing a job is figuring out how your military experience applies to the civilian workforce. A good place to start is the Department of Labor’s Military to Civilian Occupation Translator. This online tool helps figure out what types of jobs are a good match for you.

Once it is time to put together your resume, write a cover letter or interview, remember:

  1. Avoid military jargon. Put your military job title, skills and experiences into terms employers understand. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Military Skills Translator can help. If you use terms you learned in the service, a future civilian employer probably won’t know their meaning.
  2. Provide a complete picture of your military experience. Describe your:
    • Technical Skills: You might, for example, understand communications gear or be a financial management expert. These skills may reduce the time an employer has to spend training you.
    • Interpersonal Skills: To execute missions in the military you likely coordinated with commanders, teammates and subordinates. Give examples that show how you unite people to accomplish tasks.
    • Leadership Skills: Leadership experience, whether as a noncommissioned officer or unit commander, is valued by employers. These experiences could make you a good project manager or team leader.

Use Resources for Veterans in Transition

The most important resource you can leverage is your service-specific transition program.

These programs can help you go back to school, get a job or start a business.

If you have already left the service, use these resources:

  • Employment – The Essentials (Military OneSource): Includes useful information and articles about finding a job for service members and their spouses.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment: Free educational and vocational training services for qualifying veterans.
  • Veterans Employment Toolkit (VA): This toolkit helps veterans find jobs and excel in the workplace.
  • Veteran and Military Transition Center (CareerOneStop): A Department of Labor resource that helps veterans find a job, manage a career or go back to school.

Training and practical job search assistance is important. However, finding a job is just one piece of the puzzle. There is also help if you are struggling to adjust to civilian life. It can be hard to leave a tight-knit community. Your first job might not give you the same sense of service and higher purpose. But, you don’t have to transition alone. If you are struggling, know that reaching out is a sign of strength. The following can help:

  • inTransition: Free assistance for service members and veterans who needing psychological health care.
  • Vet Centers (Department of Veterans Affairs): Around-the-clock assistance for combat veterans.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: A free, confidential, 24/7 emergency resource for veterans and service members in crisis.

If you or a loved one needs additional support, contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants. Call 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. You can also see a list of key psychological health resources here.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Servicemembers in the Guard and Reserves have military careers that are the most complex career when it comes to translating experience into a resume for a federal job. With the Iraq war, the typical Guard Member and Reservist was deployed 3 to 5 times. Post deployment, the Guard or Reserve member’s former civilian career may have changed dramatically. And now two careers must be blended into one resume.

Reserves and Guard part-time: Pre 9/11, the typical Reserve or Guard service hours were designated for weekend and summer active duty.

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

Active Duty Deployment: For the past 3 to 5 years, the Reserves and Guard have been activated and trained for readiness and deployments as long as 9 months to a year. The Active duty deployments must be included in the resume, federal compliance requires that the resume is complete in the chronology.

Rethinking the former civilian career: The former civilian career went on hold to meet the military active duty objectives. Now it’s time to re-examine the past civilian career, but also incorporate the new military skills and experiences for a successful job search with Federal agencies or defense contractors.

What career or job will you be targeting now? – Your former civilian career, which may or may not be available* A new civilian career in private industry – Or a public service career based on your new military experience, training, knowledge, skills and abilities with the federal government

There are five basic steps to writing a new federal resume covering both your past civilian career and your Guard or Reservist Active Duty and Reserves experience and training.

1. MAKE TWO LISTS OF YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY – One civilian, one military

Write a chronological work history for each of your careers. Two separate lists. Make sure each period of reserves and active duty deployment is listed separately. Each deployment needs the specific locations, dates and your MOS. This is complicated information, but it must be clear for the Federal Human Resources Specialist to understand your specialized experience and how long you performed certain skills.

Related: To apply for jobs that match your skills, visit the Military Skills Translator.

Civilian Chronology: Dates, job title, name of organization, city, state, salary; duties

Reserves/ Guard Chronology: Dates, job title, rank, name of organization, city, sate, salary


What are you top three skills for each of your careers? Write at least three for each. Here are a few career and MOS scenarios and top three transferrable skills:

Truck driver as a civilian: Your best skills would be: safe driving, scheduling and safety. If you are in a transportation battalion, your best skills will be: transportation logistics, supply management, and teamwork.

Mortgage broker: Your best skills would be: communications, documentation, analysis. If your military MOS was readiness, your new skills would be: instructor, curriculum development, and planner.

Sales Representative: Communications, negotiations, customer services; military skills if you are an Intelligence Analyst, might be: analytical, investigative, and research.

Teacher: Communications, curriculum design, instructor; military skills if you were an Executive Officer: leader, strategic planner, and readiness planner.


The hardest part of all of this is not the resume writing, it’s deciding what career, job, or industry you will be seeking post-war, post-deployment, and after all the new training you have received. Corporate America and the U.S. Government have shown serious interest and support for hiring veterans into numerous positions and agencies. You have a lot of choices. But even though they are offering jobs to you, the resume must still show qualifications, knowledge, skills and abilities that will support a certain next career. This is why it is important to have a combination of both your civilian career and military career in ONE RESUME. The HR specialists and supervisor will look at the total of your career and see the skills and abilities that you bring to your new career.

Related: Discover your perfect career path and get customized job recommendations based on your military experience and vocational interests with’s Military Skills Translator + Personality Assessment.


Now it’s time to blend the civilian career and the military career into a coherent (albeit complex) set of dates, places, duties, skills and accomplishments. If you need help with the resume, GET HELP. VA for Vets has Vet Coaches for free to help you with targeting your resume. There are career coaches who would help you with blending your experiences and determining your next realistic career objectives based on the new world (since you were active duty).


If you are applying for federal positions, test your resume. Your resume might need tweaking for each announcement to pick up different skills and keywords. In order to get the best score, and match the One Year specialized experience, the resume might need to be tweaked a little for each announcement. This is a little time-consumer, but this is a strategy to hit the mark of 70 or more points for each application. Give your resume 30 days, and watch your results. Change the resume slightly for each job application or type of position. Make this a game. Watch number of applications submitted (civilian or federal). Watch the results: qualified, referred, interviewed. If you are not getting interviews or referred to supervisors, the resume isn’t working. Get help. Rewrite the resume. Rethink the direction.


Confidence comes with practice, information, knowledge, and the ability to ask for help when you need it. If you need help with a career counselor, job coach, vet rep, Voc Rehab counselor, résumé writer, GET IT. DO NOT HESITATE. Your next career and life will depend on it.

* The Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), is a non-profit that advocates for veterans rights while they are mobilized for federal service. They ensure that the positions are held for deployed reservists, and provide legal counsel as well. But, with the economic downturn since November of 2008, many companies, industries and jobs have simply ended.

If your time in the military is coming to an end, you may be worrying about the transition back to civilian life. One of the biggest things to get in order is a civilian job. Your military makes you a great fit for leadership opportunities in the corporate world, as long as you know how to frame them correctly. Here are a few tips for including your military experience in your resume.

Avoid military jargon
Titles like Battery Commander, Auxiliary Officer, Equipment Operator, and Assistant G-3 Training Officer sound impressive to others who’ve spent time in the military. But, civilians who have spent no time in the military have little frame of reference to what those titles mean. While in an interview you would be able to explain what these terms mean, recruiters may not select you for an interview if they don’t understand your experience. You want to explain the duties of these titles with the civilian application of your military skills on your resume.

Provide a full picture of your military experience
During your time in the military, you likely worked in a variety of positions that have taught you valuable corporate skills. Include your interpersonal skills gained from coordinating with teammates, subordinates and commanders. Share how you were able to unite these different groups. Whether you were a unit commander or noncommissioned officer, you gained leadership experience throughout your service.


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If you served in the military, you may have acquired job skills that employers in the civilian workforce are looking for. For example, you might have gained leadership, organizational and time management skills. By listing jobs that required you to use these and other skills on your resume, you may be able to improve your employment opportunities.

Opportunity to Land Civilian Government Jobs

You can receive preferential treatment if you apply for civilian government jobs after you are honorably discharged from the military. For example, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management states that you may have five or more points added to your test score when you take examinations for government jobs. To receive the credit, you generally must have served during a war, be disabled and have received an honorable discharge.

Explain Gaps in Civilian Employment

Because employers often want you to explain gaps in your employment history, it may be helpful to put your military experience on your resume. For example, if you served in the military for four or more years, including the experience on your resume lets employers know that you were gainfully employed rather than unemployed. If you serve in the military reserves, employers can also be aware that you’ll need to perform at least two weeks of active duty service a year.

Employer Tax Credits

Employers who hire you can apply to receive tax credits. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit allow qualifying employers to receive tax credits when they hire military veterans. For example, the White House’s May 31, 2012 “Military Skills for America’s Future: Leveraging Military Service and Experience to Put Veterans and Military Spouses Back to Work” report states that the tax credit “provides an incentive of up to $5,600 for firms to hire unemployed veterans and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit doubles to up to $9,600 the previous tax credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities.”

Specific Job Experience

If you’re applying for managerial and supervisory jobs and you managed teams of people while you were in the military, putting this information on your resume can let employers know that you may be qualified to step into senior roles. Furthermore, if you gained other skills and abilities while you served in the military that help you to meet civilian job qualifications, hiring managers and human resource recruiters need to know about them. For example, if you worked as a nurse in the military and put this experience on your resume, you may be considered for nursing jobs at hospitals and clinics.

Tips on Preparing a Resume

When adding military work experience to your resume, use terms that civilian employers are familiar with. For example, instead of saying you were an Enlisted Chief Petty Officer (E-7) supervisor, you could state that you were a senior supervisor in the Navy who managed 30 people. Also, highlight military training, education, awards and citations you received that are relevant to civilian jobs you’re applying for. You can also make a list of the strongest skills you gained while serving in the military, skills such as negotiation and problem solving, and include them on your resume. Furthermore, if you had a security clearance while you were in the military, be sure to include this on your resume so employers who handle confidential information can see that you passed a military background check and have experience working with confidential data.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

A military job like U.S. Air Force aircraft controller doesn’t exactly translate to the majority of civilian career options. At least that’s how Eric Lundberg felt once he gave the Air Force his notice to retire.

Lundberg is not alone. Sixty-eight percent of veterans say that securing employment opportunities that match their military experience is one of the main challenges to finding a civilian job, according to a 2014 survey by VetAdvisor and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. “There is a critical element in transition,” says Ruth Christopherson, SVP of Citi Community Development and program director of Citi Salutes , Citi’s company-wide initiative that supports service members, veterans and their families. “That’s the translation. Not everyone knows that veteran military language.”

Some of that difficulty is a result of the military mind-set that there is a playbook for everything — including finding a job. After all, most military operating procedures, from running a nuclear submarine to changing battery frequency, are spelled out in some sort of field manual. That’s just not the case, though, when it comes to snagging a job in the corporate or tech sectors.

For Angel McDowell, who was a major in the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps, one of her challenges was that she followed the career map provided by the Army, as opposed to fine-tuning her skills to one unique specialization. In her two decades of service, her enlisted duties ranged from medical lab technician to troop commander — not one of which easily translated onto a résumé. As a result, she stuck to focusing on project management.

“I asked my mentor for advice, hired a résumé writer and started looking for a job,” she says. “I followed all the transition steps you learn about while still in Army, but I did not have much success.”

For someone who enlists after high school or has never had to apply for a civilian job, the process can be daunting. Translating military skills to an appealing civilian résumé can be particularly challenging, because military titles are often obscure — “field officer” and “financial technician,” to name a few. Military-transition and mentoring programs, like Veterans on Wall Street or the university-accredited FourBlock (which prides itself on having a strong relationship with diverse employers), can help find clarity.

“Each veteran’s transition is unique,” Christopherson says. “Every aspect of their life is up in the air. Mentoring is that personal touch that takes the unknown and makes it less scary and less of an obstacle to be successful.”

Experts recommend that vets making the transition to civilian life outline their work duties in a typical day as well as for an atypical day. But, they add, it’s best to remove all military jargon. “Explain it as if you’re talking to a 4-year-old,” says Robyn Coburn, a résumé coach specializing in the entertainment industry and founder of “Then you can start seeing how your particular duties translate to job-speak.”

Veterans shouldn’t feel compelled to find a new job that exactly mirrors their former military duties. In fact, one of the perks of having general responsibilities like report acquisition and handling of multimillion-dollar equipment is that they translate to a myriad of jobs, from script supervisor to operations manager. Industries all across the board value personal interests and unique experiences that go beyond job titles.

For veterans seeking a civilian job, experts recommend creating a résumé that reflects a desired trajectory: Look up descriptions for dreams jobs and then incorporate keywords from those descriptions onto the résumé itself.

For vets who choose to go back to school, the Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration offers online mod ules that go hand-in-hand with specific higher education coursework. The program is like having an insider whisper all the tips and tricks to getting through school, from effective note-taking to navigating campus life. “Here is a university that understands the [transitioning] veteran,” says Christopherson. “Columbia’s program and partnerships help guide a career path into the workforce.”

Transitioning vets are also privy to tech-forward resources designed to help them enter civilian life. For example,’s Transition App , which is part of Monster Worldwide and supported by Citi, links vets with job matches based on specific experience and title by aggregating data from’s employment website. In matching skills developed while in the military to databases, the app recommends jobs that not only target primary skills, such as leadership, but also takes secondary and tertiary skills into account. It also offers an interactive checklist to assist with transition concerns, like financial education and preparing for relocation. A planned update to the Transition App this spring will expand content for military spouses and veterans with disabilities, further assisting a smooth transition for the entire family.

Shift , a tech-focused recruiting platform for those transitioning from the military, is another service that assists with career changes. Shift’s founder, Mike Slagh, a former U.S. Navy bomb-squad officer, started the company in 2016 to give future veterans a leg up in finding tech careers by facilitating fellowships before officially leaving the military.

When Lundberg gave the military his six-months’ notice, he started to look for a civilian job. “The transition is crazy,” he says.

After 10 months of searching on his own, Lundberg reached out to Shift. The recruiter matched Lundberg’s Air Force skill set with the needs of tech companies, resulting in a three-month fellowship with Citrine Informatics, an AI platform aiding in the acceleration of materials and product development. As part of his fellowship, Lundberg educates material scientists on how to optimize Citrine’s AI platform by providing customized training.

“That’s exactly what I was doing in the Air Force,” he says. “When I’m at a training event, I can translate what I did to what I am doing now.”


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The professional backgrounds of military and civilian personnel are notably different, which typically results in contrasting resume styles. While servicemen and women frequently possess skills that are transferable to the civilian workplace, employers who lack military knowledge often find it difficult to see past the camouflage. Understanding the differences in terminology, content and design can help veterans tailor their resume to appeal to civilian employers.

Military Resumes

A resume outlines relevant accomplishments and experience to secure a specific job. Since each profession calls for its own unique set of skills, resumes typically vary in terminology, content and style. This is especially true for military resumes. Service members hold multiple jobs and work at a number of duty stations over the course of their enlistment or career, making a functional resume the preferred format of military professionals. This format is a skill-based style that highlights areas of expertise rather than the chronological order of positions. Military-specific jargon and acronyms — such as Baseops, OPTEMO and insurgency — also are commonly used to describe roles and responsibilities.

Civilian Resumes

Civilian resumes tend to follow a chronological format, starting with your current or most recent position and working backwards. This allows hiring managers and recruiters to see the progression of responsibilities and provides a frame of reference for key accomplishments. Jobs are laid out according to employer, with a brief paragraph summarizing key responsibilities followed by achievements listed in bullet format.


Career structure, terminology and format are key differences between military and civilian resumes. Because of the contrast in experience and verbiage, assuming the reader has no existing knowledge of military operations can be beneficial to veterans seeking to transition into the civilian workforce. Spelling out acronyms and simplifying the way in which responsibilities and accomplishments are described also will help keep a resume clear and concise, which helps recruiters and hiring managers better understand an applicant’s skill set.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

One of the most commonly expressed challenges hiring managers face when trying to recruit or hire military veterans is understanding the military resume. The following is an excerpt from my book, Engaging with Veteran Talent: A quick and practical guide to souring, hiring, onboarding, and developing Veteran employees:

Reading the Resume

Hiring managers are typically not trained to read a military resume. If the resume is not “civilianized,” it can appear full of acronyms and terminology that make a civilian’s eyes glaze over. What does being an E-6 mean? What does it mean to be an Airborne Cryptologic Language Specialist in the Air Force, and how is it relevant for this open position?

If your recruiters and hiring managers encounter military resumes, some tips to efficiently review the resume for relevancy include the following:

  • Allow time to read the resume. Most recruiters scan resumes quickly, looking for keywords and highlights. Instead, spend a few more minutes reviewing when you see that the resume includes military experience.
  • In reviewing a military resume, look at tangible results and benchmarks. Scan for dollar amounts attached to results, accomplishments in leadership, and results delivered. (Don’t be surprised if you see large dollar amounts and personnel experience at a young age.)
  • Consider length of service by looking for service dates. A Veteran with twenty-plus years of military service will likely show greater results, milestones, and training than someone medically discharged after three years of duty. Both candidates potentially offer great skills, qualities, and value to the company.
  • Consider deployments. While not an indicator of resiliency, multiple deployments can point to flexibility, adaptability, and increased skills. Fewer deployments can showcase longer-term assignments or different levels of responsibility during those assignments.
  • Read the cover letter. Veterans are encouraged to keep their resumes tactical and express goals and values in the cover letter. Encourage your recruiters and hiring managers to read the cover letters of Veteran job candidates, and consider the totality of the cover letter/resume package.

You can remind military Veterans that the resume is simply a tool in the toolkit of the transition. When Veterans support their experience and work history with examples of their passions, vision, and talents, the resume becomes more a reflection of who they are and where they can add value in the company.

Understanding Military Career Progression

Military career placements can follow the rule of two-up, two-down. This means for certain jobs, especially those that are technical, it is expected that the service member be able handle the responsibilities two levels above their own grade, and will roll up their sleeves to accomplish the mission by working at least two levels below their own.

As you think about military career progress, consider how this example could correspond to a civilian career track in your industry or organization:

1. First, you serve as a Platoon Leader (2nd or 1st Lieutenant) managing and directing 50 people. That’s like being a manager, supervisor, or project officer in the civilian world.

2. Then you are a Company Commander (Captain), managing and directing three to four Platoons and a small headquarters section, totaling 150-180 people. That’s like being a senior manager, senior supervisor, or project manager in the civilian world.

3. Then you become a Battalion Commander (Lieutenant Colonel), responsible for managing and directing four to six companies totaling 750-800 people. That’s similar to being a CEO of a small company.

4. Next, you become a Brigade Commander (Colonel), responsible for managing and directing four to seven battalions totaling 3,500-5,000 people. That’s like being a CEO of a medium-sized company.

There are variances in the number of people you’ll supervise and direct, because there are many kinds of organizations in the military. For example, infantry platoons, companies, battalions, and brigades have different numbers than armor (tank), artillery, aviation, engineer, logistics, signal, and military intelligence platoons/companies/battalions/brigades.

Other examples of military ranks and duties and how they might equate to a civilian position include:

Posted July 11 2016

As a veteran-owned and operated company, we know the value in our military veterans and the quality experience that they can bring to potential civilian employers. We take pride in putting our veterans to work.

How to Add Military Experience to a ResumeWhen converting your military experience into a resume fit for civilian life, it’s important to remember to:

– List your specific skills (labor and/or clerical) and trades that you learned during your military career

– Highlight your leadership, teamwork, discipline, and hard work

– Tie your experience to the career you are pursuing in the civilian world; use the job description to give you ideas of the wording used by your potential employer – use those same words on your resume to describe your background in their terms

– Use a resume template online for a clean, easy-to-read layout; some tools and information you learned from your TAP class may be helpful

As a veteran, you have extensive experience that can help you land the career you desire. Your disciplined work ethic can open opportunities for advancement and promotion if you put the effort into creating your resume, learning how to interview well, and believing you have the skills and knowledge to add value to an organization.

You may also consider networking through social media, such as the over 250 veteran-related groups on LinkedIn, as well as groups through Facebook and Twitter. You never know how a connection could lead to an opportunity. Of course, we have worked with clients who are very interested in candidates with military backgrounds. Be sure you come to our office to speak with a Staffing Coordinator about our current job openings that may be a fit with your prior military experience.

Here are a few specific social networking groups you may be interested in joining:

(Article taken from our July 2016 newsletter. Read all articles here.)

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Military personnel have many jobs while on active and reserve duty. Military personnel are often discharged from the military with little to no information on the process of converting military experience into civilian sector terminology. Military experience is not easily understood by the civilian sector. There are easy ways to convert military experience into civilian verbiage using job description templates found on the Internet.

It is important for military personnel to write out experience as it relates to civilian jobs. This is done utilizing job descriptions sites such as O*Net, Indeed and Career Builder. These sites provide job description information civilian sectors are using to hire applicants. Job experience should be broken down into bullets, which is the basic resume structure. A helpful book when completing this task is “Job Search, Marketing Your Military Experience By David G. Henderson.” This book provides excellent information on how to convert your military experience into civilian experience. It is an easy to understand book that provides examples and tips for converting military experience and is useful for all military forces.

Do some research on military specialties, then get detailed about what the specialty entails. Explain the experience in layman terms, and remember to keep it simple. Conduct Internet searches on “Job Descriptions” to find examples of pre-written job descriptions. Copy and paste the desired job description example and use it as a template to assist with converting military experience into civilian experience.

Create 3 resumes, a short, medium and long resume. The short resume provides a brief overview of position held and tasks. The medium adds tools and technologies of the positions. Finally, the long resume is a combination of all of experience from the first position held to present position. This includes job summary, tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities, tools and technologies of the position. Remember to create the long resume first, use the long resume to create the medium and the short resume.

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I was in the Army National Guard. I was in basic from 01/2006 until 03/2006, AIT from 03/2006 until 07/2006, then doing drills with my unit until I was honorably discharged in 02/2007. I was a 68W (Medic) and never activated/deployed. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to put this on a resume. I’m applying for a job as a Med Tech at a local hospital, so my prior experience as a Medic would be great to put down. Your help would be great. Thanks!

10 Answers

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

just like you would a job

Army National Guard 01-2006 to 02-2007

-Active Duty Training 01-2006 to 07-2006

Just an example, you want to keep it simple on paper so that you have something to talk about at the interview

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Adding Military Experience To Resume

You just need to put down exactly what you have put up there. It is usually best to put experience in date order in a resume so just create a list and add those things into it. Xx

– Army National Guard, Basic (01/2006 – 03/2006)

AIT (03/2006 – 07/2006)

Unit drills ( till 02/2007)

68W Medic (never activated/deployed)

^^ That is just a rough example.

As you leave the military there is manditory ACAP, which is the Army Career Alumni Program, as as E-5 he should know about this. While in ACAP there are classes on resume writing. Spending time in the military and recieving an honorable discharge at the rank of SGT can be enough and no other justification will be needed to become a police officer. If his job was in someway related to police work it could be helpful to include his duties in the resume.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

Use that book they gave you when you got out if you were an e-4 you can put dept head etc you have a ton of experience you can you from the military to put on a resume

This site can help translate your military skills into civilian ones. You can also check with your state unemployment office as they usually offer classes on how to write a resume.

Make a separate section, usually underneath your work history. List it off just like you listed it here. I’m sure you will find something good you are very intelligent from what I can tell. Good luck!

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

If you would allow email I would send you a sample (the military section) of the professional CV/Resume I paid for.

Writing an exceptional résumé is hard for anyone, however a military spouse resume is a bit more difficult, and will look different than a resume of someone who has been in one place for more than three years. The endless amount of jobs, short durations and drastic career changes makes it quite difficult to create an appealing résumé. However, with a little creativity and exploration, it can be accomplished.

1 Choose the Correct Résumé FormatHow to Add Military Experience to a Resume

There are several résumé styles to choose from, including chronological, functional, combination, and targeted. It is important to choose the right résumé style that best reflects your skills so explore each style and format and tailor your résumé to the one that best highlights your capabilities.

For example, if you have large employment gaps or numerous short-term positions, perhaps you should consider using a non-traditional “functional” résumé or a “combination” résumé. A functional résumé is geared toward those individuals who want to highlight their skills and abilities rather than focusing on the time frame of each job they’ve held.

A combination resume also highlights skills and is great to consider for recent graduates, and those with gaps in employment. It provides both a list of skills, as well as a chronological list of relevant employment history. This kind of resume can be easily altered for different applications to include keywords and phrases.

Finally, start each descriptive line of your resume with “strong action verbs,” such as the ones in this list, to help highlight your experience and provide a list of descriptive terms so your future employer can understand exactly what you did. Below is a line from a military spouse resume sample.Example: Bookseller at Bookstore X
Line 1:Provided excellent customer service by understanding store policies and search techniques
Instead of
Line 1: Helped customers find books by searching the system and knowing the store’s layout

Although these two descriptions say similar things, the top is more direct and uses better verbs. I usually use three descriptive lines for each job listing. It can be a daunting task to start a resume, but once you create a copy with everything you might possibly want on it, then Save As new copies for each job and simply remove the least relevant information for each job you’re applying for.

2 Include a Captivating Cover Letter

A cover letter is considered a must in today’s job market. You can have a remarkable résumé but if it doesn’t accompany a high-quality cover letter, it will most likely end up in the “NO” pile. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and to highlight your skills relevant to the position. If you do a good job of relaying this information correctly and precisely, hiring manager will more than likely take the time to review your résumé, thus giving you the chance to stand out among the remaining applicants.

3 Include Volunteer Experience and Trainings

You may consider yourself “unemployed” if you don’t have a traditional job. However, that doesn’t mean that you are not acquiring useful skills and education that can be applied to a job or used in your résumé. For example, are you a member of the spouses club? Do you volunteer at the base’s thrift store? Have you attended any relevant training? Relevant positions don’t always mean a salary was achieved.
Focus on the relevant skills you obtained and use them on your résumé. Communication skills, leadership roles, and supervision experience are all examples of ideal traits that can be useful to any job regardless of where you obtained them.

If you don’t want to list every position, you can make a separate section for skills, such as in the combination resume.

4 Send Your Résumé to “Military Friendly” Organizations and Businesses

With a quick Google search it’s easy to find an extensive list of businesses that value the dexterity and expertise that a military spouse can bring to their company. MetLife, US Bank and Goodwill Industries are among the numerous companies that have pledged to hire military spouses. It’s always a good idea to send your résumé to employers that value your skill sets and who are willing to aid with the hurdles military spouses are likely to face.

5 Utilize the Career Office/Spouse Services

Although each installation varies, military bases offer many services to spouses including career exploration, available job listings and résumé help. Often underutilized, their supportive and free services are sure to benefit military spouses who seek their assistance. Not only can they help you create an outstanding résumé, but they also have a vast amount of experience working with the many résumé writing obstacles that military spouses face.

Yes, finding a job while being a military spouse can be daunting. However, with preparation, assistance and endurance, you are sure to find the perfect job for you. Don’t let the endless moves and hindrances affect you from obtaining your career goals.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

We’vHow to Add Military Experience to a Resumee all heard that unemployment is a serious problem in the U.S. However, for our country’s servicemen and women who are in the process of transitioning out of the military to resume their lives in the civilian world, the situation is worse.

With July 2013 unemployment numbers showing 7.7% for post 9/11 veterans (above the national average of 7.4%), military veterans continue to struggle to find jobs. But in addition to entering or re-entering a really tight job market, they also face the added challenge of positioning their military skills and experience onto a resume that gets the attention of civilian employers.

For example, someone who served as a gunner’s mate—responsible for operating and maintaining missile launching systems, rocket launchers and other ordnance systems and equipment—would probably have a tough time describing how their skills could benefit a prospective employer.

Yet if you think about it, a gunner’s mate has to be analytical and detail-oriented. They need to be problem-solvers, strategic thinkers and good at training and supervising crews. In addition, the job demands a high comfort level with operating and maintaining machinery. All of these skills are easily transferable to today’s job market and desired by many employers.

So the challenge, then, becomes figuring out how to extract the desirable experience and qualifications gained in the military and repackage them to impress prospective employers.

What Skills Are Employers Looking For?

The first question to answer when applying for a position is: How can I make this employer see and believe that I have the skills to fill this position and bring value to the company, especially as a result of my time in the service?

The answer will depend on the kind of position you’re applying for and the specific skills required for that job. For example, the gunner’s mate mentioned earlier–or sailors who served on ships or submarines–could talk about their mechanical and technical talents and their ability to learn quickly how machinery and mechanical systems work.

Another example may be technicians trained in radar systems, high tech communications or cryptography, who could cite that experience and relate it to today’s information and digital technology. Personnel involved in military recruiting, training and public affairs can easily adapt their communications, organization and management skills to the civilian world of sales and marketing positions, public relations, trade associations and non-profit organizations. And service members involved in construction, welding, electrical work or facility maintenance and repair services can describe how their experience gave them specific knowledge and skills that would be useful in the building trades, repair and installation work and plant maintenance.

The point is to make the job application and resume stand out from the crowd by communicating how your military experience and past employment history can be of value in fulfilling the company’s needs and the requirements of the position.

What Qualities Do Employers Look For in Candidates?

In addition to work experience, there are personality traits that many employers also desire. Traits associated with military veterans—such as being responsible, disciplined, dedicated and hardworking—are highly desired by employers. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

A quick review of classified ads and online job sites reveals some of the general character traits and attitudes employers are seeking in job applicants. Here are some key phrases frequently seen in job descriptions and ways you can use them in your application, resume or interview:

  • Hardworking, motivated – Highlight examples of a strong work ethic and the desire to succeed.
  • Disciplined, reliable – Communicate that you are serious about the job, are willing to do what needs to be done and will follow through even when faced with setbacks.
  • Team player – Convey that you are able to work cooperatively with coworkers, follow direction and also lead the team when called upon.
  • Can-do attitude – Display self-confidence and a positive attitude in presenting your skills and experience and answering any question.

Ask any employer, and they’ll tell you that a positive attitude, honesty, integrity, commitment and a willingness to do what it takes to perform the job well are major factors in their hiring decisions. Whether it’s in sales, construction, manufacturing, technology or any other industry, knowing how to position your skills and experience, combined with a great attitude, can help land you on an employer’s hiring shortlist.

Resources for Veterans

Combined Insurance is committed to helping veterans transition into the civilian workforce. We work closely with the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), a partnership among the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

TAP was established to meet the needs of servicemen and women transitioning out of the military and into civilian life by offering job search assistance and workshops, support and counsel. Combined Insurance participates in TAP classes to help transitioning servicemen and women translate their military experience, repurpose their skills and revise their resumes to help make them more attractive to civilian employers.

We consider it an honor and privilege to serve those who have served our country. Be sure to watch for upcoming posts, where we’ll discuss choosing a career and brushing up on interview skills.

Peter Leighton is Senior Vice President of Recruiting for Combined Insurance, a leading provider of individual supplemental insurance products and part of the ACE Group of Companies. Combined Insurance is a participant in several military veteran career recruitment programs and plans to hire 1,000 vets.

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

How to Add Military Experience to a ResumeSo, you’ve spent the last couple of years at your gig honing your skills and getting great experience, and you’ve decided it’s time to move on and look for something new.

But wait: What should you do with your resume now that you’ve got tons more knowledge and experience under your belt—but the same jam-packed 8.5×11” sheet of paper to work with?

Hint: The answer is not to add another page (in fact, most hiring managers I know would automatically disqualify you for doing so!). You’ll want to employ the opposite strategy: If you’re dusting off your resume for the first time in a while, you should reconsider what you include, and remove some things that don’t make the cut. Here are a few strategies for trimming what you don’t need so you can make room for the new.

Rule #1: Tell a Story

Your resume is a narrative, and it should tell a purposeful story. The chronology, headers, and action words on your resume don’t matter nearly as much as your overall personal narrative does. No one cares about how many bullet points you have and whether they are squares or circles.

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Instead, focus on the person coming across in your resume. If you want to be “the social media guru,” anything that doesn’t at least tangentially relate to social media should be de-prioritized. If you want to come across as “the academic research all-star,” by all means put your educational experience on top, throw in your GPA, and get in-depth about your awards and publications. Feel free to leave off your real estate experience.

This neurotic friend of mine (who is actually me) even has different versions of her resume—an international relations resume, a writing resume, a start-up focused resume. Each of these resumes is a variation on the same experiences, but it’s spun for different purposes, highlighting different skill sets and accomplishments.

And that’s OK—you really don’t have to have one resume that includes everything you’ve ever done. Think about your story in relation to the types of positions you’re seeking—and if a job, bullet point, or even a word does not enhance this story, remove it.

Rule #2: Focus on the Recent (or Relevant)

Think about it—just by virtue of the fact that you are the oldest you have ever been, you are at your most evolved point thus far. And whether or not your current position is challenging you, it likely reflects your most senior job title and contains your most impressive accomplishments to date.

So, if there’s a choice between including one more college internship or going into more detail about your current role, always choose the latter. Your goal is to make room for that position by eliminating waste in other parts of your resume.

(Disclaimer: If a previous job was more relevant to the one for which you’re applying, you can and should to go into more detail there.)

Rule #3: Consolidate Your Education

If your education isn’t the most impressive part of your resume, it isn’t 100% relevant to the position you’re applying for, or if you’re not going for an academic role, I’m willing to bet that you could shorten it. Especially if you’ve been out of college for a few years, you don’t need to list out your courses, GPA, or activities—all you really need is your college and degree. Here’s a before and after:


UNIVERSITY OF MAINE, College of Arts and Sciences, Farmington, ME

Bachelor of Arts, Government, May 2008; Major GPA: 3.0; Cumulative GPA: 2.5

Focus: Government, political science, sociology, psychology, economics

Academic Year 2006 to 2007, Institut des Etudes Politiques, Paris, France: Direct matriculation, courses in French and final examinations in French language


UNIVERSITY OF MAINE, College of Arts and Sciences, Farmington, ME

Bachelor of Arts, Government, May 2008

(You can move your French language experience under “Skills” or “Languages”—but again, only if it’s relevant to the position.)

Rule #4: Cut the Quirky

Particularly if you want work at the kind of place where everyone sits on yoga balls and takes team-building canoe trips (I want to work there, too), you might think that you should list your hobbies on your resume or go into detail about the fact that you were voted the seventh best vegetarian chef in your city. Hiring managers want you to be a real person with interests outside of the office, right?

This will come across better in an interview, or maybe even in a cover letter. Don’t use the precious space on your resume. Definitely list languages you speak, technical skills you have, or security clearances you’ve obtained, but if your yoga certification doesn’t pertain to the job you’re applying for and you’re running out of space—get ’er outta there.

Re-focusing your resume is a good thing: it forces you to think about what’s really important in the eyes of a hiring manager, and what doesn’t really need to be on there. So don’t spend your time reducing your font size to 8 and pushing those borders to the limit—focus on being merciless about creating your story and honing in on your message. It will take you further in your quest to land dream job.

This article was originally published on The Daily Muse. For more on making your resume shine, check out: