Less than 1% of United States citizens serve in the military. That means 99% of the population is less familiar with what military service members bring to the workforce. Creating a strong resume that translates military experience into civilian skills is key to transitioning into a post-military career.
At Citi, we’re working to respond to the complex needs of America’s uniformed men and women who are transitioning out of the military in large numbers. As a former service member and veteran recruiter, I spend much of my time speaking with transitioning service members to improve resumes and translate their skills. From my experience leading workshops and trainings, I have learned how to create a strong civilian resume. Here are five tips:
Translation is Key -- Getting a job is just like having a job. You have to tailor your skills to the employer’s expectations. Make sure to review the job description. Once you understand if you are qualified, articulate your relevant skill set in your resume as it relates to the job. Do Not be Afraid to Take Credit -- In the military, it is all about the team effort. Servicemen and women are taught never to take credit for the accomplishments of the whole. In the civilian world, searching for a candidate is all about vetting someone as an individual. Find ways to translate how individual efforts resulted in positive outcomes. Address Irregularities -- In the military it is common to move frequently, sometimes creating lateral or vertical changes in rank. Be prepared to explain these movements in your career and spell out promotions. If you manage people, make sure to list the number of people you manage so that recruiters understand the size and scope of your leadership. Highlight the Perks of Deployment – Military service often leads to deployments that are beyond an individual’s control. Make sure to highlight the positive aspects of deployment, like new skill sets, cultural experience and ability to learn quickly. Prepare to Debunk Misconceptions -- Military ranks and levels are often unknown to civilian recruiters. Consider where your resume has flexibility on language. For instance, instead of relying on titles to do the talking, look at what the functions of the job are and elaborate. These tips can help develop a strong resume that will appeal to civilian employers. I am thankful to be able to provide helpful information to our military men and women who have so bravely served our nation as they transition to civilian life.
If you ask 5 resume experts on creating a new resume you will get 8 different opinions. After running a free transition service for Military Engineers for over 25 years I suggest to those in transition to ask for help from all possible sources.