What To Include On A Military Resume + Military Skills

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It can be challenging and overwhelming to transition from the military to civilian employment, but we’ll show you how to write an effective military resume. That way, you can highlight your military skills and achievements as you embark on your next career. If you want to get ahead of the crowd, consider using a professional resume writing service. Otherwise, let’s dive right in!

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What Is Unique About A Military Resume?

Your military resume is unique because its job is to help you start your next career chapter as a veteran. Therefore, it must showcase everything you’ve learned and done during your military service in a way that a civilian recruiter or hiring manager can understand. It also must translate those accomplishments into qualifications for any role you pursue.

Preparing to Write Your Military Resume

Before you start writing your military resume, you should figure out what type of work you want to do. Then, you can tailor the document for that career. If you’re feeling a little fuzzy on your next move, look into industries that frequently hire people with your skillset. You can also chat with other veterans with similar backgrounds to see what they’re doing post-military.

Once you have a profession in mind, create a log of your military awards, skills, roles held, achievements, training/education, etc. This list will help you create a military resume that highlights why you’re the ideal person for the job. But, if you’re not sure if you have what it takes to break into or succeed in your target career, ask people who are currently in the profession for insight. Then, you can make a plan to address any skills or knowledge gaps, if applicable.

What Should Be Included On A Military Resume?

Your resume should feature information about your background that’s relevant to the job you want. Like a standard resume, you should include sections describing your skills, roles, training/education, and awards. As you write, follow these best practices:

  • Translate your military role to a civilian occupation and include it alongside your official title and rank. This U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored tool can help.
  • Quantify your achievements. Examples include: supervised 50 people, saved $75,000 on a supplier contract, or reduced errors in a given process by 30%.
  • Use keywords from the job advertisement to stand out to hiring managers and applicant tracking system screening software.
  • Highlight that security clearance -- especially if you’re seeking employment in the defense industry. It demonstrates that you’re trustworthy and have a clean background.
  • Anticipate and answer a hiring manager’s questions. It’s a smart idea to include a cover letter with each application so you can provide more details.

Pro Tip: In your cover letter, be sure to use the word “I” instead of “we.” While the military is all about the team, your job search is all about you.

What Should Be Left Off A Military Resume?

What you don’t list on your resume can be just as important as the words you write. To make sure civilian recruiters and hiring managers understand your background, avoid using military-speak, jargon, or acronyms. Instead, make sure your resume gets written in plain language.

Here are a few examples:

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  • Commanded could get written as led, managed, supervised, or directed.
  • Subordinates could get written as employees, team members, or staff.
  • Battalion could get written as division or organization.

Pro Tip: Ask a non-military family member or friend to read through your military resume. Do they understand what you’re saying? If not, the document needs more tweaking.

Important Job Skills For Military Members

Some military roles can be difficult to translate into civilian professions. But, no matter your technical background, your service helped you hone various soft skills that can get applied to any job. Be sure to put a spotlight on these abilities on your military resume.

Examples include but aren’t limited to:

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Effectiveness under pressure
  • Financial responsibility
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Integrity
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning skills

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you write a military resume?

You write a military resume by showcasing your service-related achievements in a way that shows you’re qualified for a civilian role.

How do you list military experience on a resume?

If your military experience is relevant to your target position or the only job you’ve held, you should list it prominently. But, even if it’s not relevant, or it’s been a long time since you’ve gotten discharged, you should still mention your service.

Is the military good on a resume?

Yes, employers generally like to see military service on a resume because it shows your commitment to the country and implies that you have soft skills like teamwork and poise under pressure.

Should I put disabled veteran on my resume?

Generally, information about your disability status does not belong on your resume.

Is it easy for a veteran to get a job?

Unfortunately, veterans often struggle to find a job after completing their military service. However, you can increase your chances of getting work by writing an effective military resume.

The Bottom Line

When you leave the military, everything about your life changes -- including your professional direction. Adapting to your new normal can be difficult. But, hopefully, these tips for writing a military resume help you land the job you want. Check out where employers are posting jobs. If you need a little more help, check out the best resume writing services for personalized guidance.