Your civilian resume is a summary of 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
Before crafting your resume, you’ll want to 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 and will help you in the job process.
After this, you’ll want to list your technical and intangible skills. Technical skills will include specific assets you gained during your service that can be applied to other job spheres. For example, suppose you served as a computer technician, mechanic or engineer in the military. In that case, you may not be doing the same kind of work post-military, but much of the technical knowledge you gained will carry over to similar jobs. You’ll also want to convert your military job training into civilian terms. For example, “budgeting” is a critical skill in civilian companies.
Your intangible skills will include many of the principles you perfected during your service, such as leadership, discipline, organization, strong work ethic and so on.
Select your resume style
There are different ways to organize your resume. You’ll want to pick a style that best highlights your strengths and your unique qualifications.
- Chronological resume: One of the most well-known resume types. Your employment history is highlighted, starting with the most recent position and then going back in time. This style will also 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 essential components
In addition to your work and military history, you’ll want to include the following information:
- 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 highlighting the skills that qualify you for the job. This section 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
You’ve got the basics down. Now use your resume to showcase your unique abilities and accomplishments.
- 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.”
- Target your resume. Change and tailor your resume for the job you’re targeting. Learn what this employer is looking for and highlight those qualities.
- Include your accomplishments. Use numbers to highlight, 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 requested.
- Check spelling and accuracy. Proofread your resume, ask someone else to proofread it, and read it 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 utilizing a business letter format.
- Always follow up. Mention that you will call to follow up, and don’t forget to do it.
If you still have concerns or want a professional to look over your resume before you start applying, there are many resources at your disposal to help you land a civilian job. Some great tools you can utilize include:
- Veteran’s Employment and Training Service from the U.S. Department of Labor has an online job exchange with access to employers, skills translator, resume builder, interest profiler and more.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs offers an interest profiler, educational and career counseling and links to other job resources, such as support for veteran-owned small businesses.
- Resumeengine.org, through Hiring Our Heroes, provides an easy-to-use resume application to service members that will translate military records into a strong resume that civilian employers can easily understand.
- USAJobs’ federal resume-building website is a helpful tool.
- The Transition Assistance Program office on your installation is a fantastic resource.