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Ace Your Civilian Job Search with Expert Tips for Veteran Resume Writing

Veterans have tons of transferrable experience and skills for the private sector. But, it can be challenging to translate the military jargon into a resume that works for the private sector. Here are the top expert tips to write a veteran resume that lands a civilian job.

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding and securing employment. One of the most crucial components of this process is creating a well-written veteran resume that highlights your skills, experiences, and achievements in a way that resonates with potential employers. In this blog post, we will discuss how to get the hiring manager's attention with a well-written veteran resume. We will also cover the best practices in navigating the civilian job market, translating military skills into civilian language, highlighting your military achievements for a civilian audience, and much more.

The Importance of a Well-Written Veteran Resume

Crafting a strong veteran resume is crucial in today's competitive job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employment rate for veterans in 2022 was 2.8%, lower than the rate for non-veterans at 3.6%. To stand out from the competition while job hunting, it is important to highlight transferable skills that show relevance to civilian employers. Using bullet points makes key achievements and qualifications easy to read, while tailoring your resume for each job application helps match the job description. Additionally, grabbing the hiring manager's attention with a compelling cover letter can make a significant impact in your job search.

The Role of Your Military Experience in Civilian Jobs

Your military experience plays a crucial role in civilian job applications. It showcases your leadership skills acquired during your service and highlights your ability to work under pressure, make quick decisions, and collaborate with diverse teams. Demonstrating your adaptability to new situations and environments is also important. To align your military experience with civilian job requirements, it's essential to use keywords from the job description. By emphasizing these skills and qualities, you position yourself as a strong candidate for potential employers and recruiters.

Understanding the Civilian Job Market

Researching current job market trends and demands is crucial for veterans transitioning to civilian careers. By identifying industries that are hiring, you can align your skills accordingly and increase your chances of finding employment. Exploring job postings online and networking with professionals in your desired field can provide valuable insights and potential opportunities. The next step will be putting your unique abilities on your resume in a way that the civilian recruiter can understand. This could also mean considering additional training or certifications can enhance your qualifications and make you a more competitive applicant. But, the key will be to start researching that market to make sure that you know what you need to land where you want to be in the civilian job market.

Key Differences Between Military and Civilian Job Markets

When transitioning from the military to the civilian job market, it's important to be aware of the key differences between these two spheres. In the civilian job market, you'll encounter different terminologies and job titles, so it's crucial to familiarize yourself with them. Additionally, civilian employers value the highlighting of achievements and skills in a resume, rather than just listing job responsibilities. Moreover, adjusting your mindset from a hierarchical military structure to a collaborative work environment is essential. Keep in mind that the hiring process in the civilian job market may take longer than in the military. Lastly, adapting to the expectations of civilian employers, such as dress code and professional etiquette, is necessary for success.

What Do Civilian Employers Look for in a Veteran Resume?

Civilian employers value military veterans' skills, certifications, and specialized training. They seek candidates who can lead, work in teams, and are committed to continuous learning. Customizing your resume to align with their needs shows your dedication.

Translating Military Skills into Civilian Language

Identifying transferable skills is crucial when transitioning from the military to a civilian career. By recognizing the skills that can be applied to civilian jobs, veterans can effectively market themselves as valuable assets to potential employers. It's important to use civilian-friendly terminology to describe military experience, avoiding excessive jargon that may confuse recruiters or hiring managers. Instead, focus on highlighting results, accomplishments, and technical skills that are relevant to the civilian industry. Using action verbs to convey capabilities and achievements will grab the attention of human resources and increase the chances of landing a job interview.

Identifying Your Transferable Skills

When transitioning from military to civilian jobs, it's important to identify your transferable skills. Assess your military experience and recognize the skills that can be applied to civilian jobs, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking. Highlight your ability to work well in high-pressure situations and showcase your communication, teamwork, and organizational skills. Emphasize your adaptability and resilience in different environments. By identifying and highlighting these transferable skills, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you are a good candidate for their organization. Take the first step towards a successful civilian career by recognizing the value of your military experience.

How to Demilitarize Your Resume Language

To make your resume more accessible to civilian hiring managers, it's important to demilitarize your resume language. Replace military-specific acronyms and jargon with civilian terms that are easily understood by those outside the military. Additionally, use industry-specific keywords that will catch the attention of potential employers. Instead of focusing on the processes, emphasize the results and impact of your actions in your previous roles. It's also crucial to avoid using military rank or hierarchy on your civilian resume. Seek feedback from civilians or career experts to ensure that your resume is easily comprehensible to a wider audience.

Highlighting Your Military Achievements for a Civilian Audience

When transitioning from military service to the civilian job market, it's essential to highlight your military achievements in a way that resonates with civilian employers. One effective approach is to translate your military awards and recognition into language that showcases your skills. Quantifying your achievements whenever possible can also demonstrate tangible results to potential employers. Additionally, it's important to focus on the transferable skills you developed during your military service and tailor your achievements to align with the specific requirements of the job you're applying for. By doing so, you can effectively highlight your military accomplishments for a civilian audience.

How to Frame Military Accomplishments in a Civilian Context

When transitioning from a military career to the civilian job market, it is essential to effectively frame your military accomplishments in a way that resonates with potential employers. One key strategy is to emphasize the leadership roles you've held and the impact you've made. Highlight instances where you successfully solved problems or improved processes, demonstrating your ability to adapt to challenging situations. It's crucial to showcase your commitment to teamwork and collaboration, as these are highly valued traits in the civilian workforce. Use concrete examples to illustrate your accomplishments and their relevance to civilian employment. By doing so, you can position yourself as a strong candidate for your next career move.

How Important is a Career Summary in Your Veteran Resume?

Crafting a compelling career summary is crucial for catching the hiring manager's attention. Emphasize your transferable skills, military experience, and leadership abilities while aligning them with the job requirements. Use relevant keywords to make your resume stand out.

Writing an Effective Civilian-Friendly Career Summary

Tailoring your career summary to meet the specific needs of civilian employers is crucial when transitioning from military to civilian employment. This is because your cover letter won't always make it to the hiring manager. Instead, the summary at the top of your resume can serve in its place. Here, you will want to translate your unique abilities, leadership skills, and motivations to provide the talking points about why they should hire you.

Avoid focusing on your duties or responsibilities in this section. Instead, think about the skills and strengths that you have and how you use them. Remember, this is the first time that the person will be learning anything about you. So, keep this message focused on your audience to make sure that they want to keep reading.

Putting Job Training and Certifications on Display

When crafting your veteran resume, it's crucial to include relevant job training and certifications that you've acquired during your time in the military. This not only showcases your skills and qualifications but also highlights your dedication to professional development. Be sure to emphasize any security clearances you've obtained, as this can be a valuable asset in certain civilian roles. Additionally, focus on certifications that are directly applicable to the civilian job you're seeking. By explaining how your training and certifications make you a qualified candidate, potential employers and recruiters can better understand the unique value you bring to the table. Using specific examples to demonstrate the practical application of your training and certifications further reinforces your expertise.

Incorporating Security Clearances and Certifications in Your Resume

When it comes to writing your resume as a military veteran, it's important to highlight your security clearances and certifications. These credentials can greatly enhance your qualifications and catch the attention of potential employers. Be sure to list your security clearances prominently in your resume, including the level of clearance and expiration date if applicable. Additionally, highlight any certifications that are highly valued in your industry and provide brief descriptions of their relevance to the job. By incorporating these security clearances and certifications into your resume, you can demonstrate your expertise and stand out as a strong candidate.

How to Present Your Military Training in a Civilian Resume

When transitioning from a military career to the civilian job market, it is essential to effectively present your military training in your resume. To do this, start by translating military jargon into civilian terms when describing your training. Focus on the skills and experiences gained during your military service, highlighting any specialized training or courses that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Use action verbs to describe your military training and its impact, and don't forget to quantify your achievements and results. By presenting your military training in a way that resonates with potential employers, you can showcase yourself as a strong candidate for civilian jobs.

Balancing Between Professionalism and Honesty

Maintaining professionalism while being honest about your military experience is crucial when crafting your veteran resume. It's essential to avoid disclosing sensitive or classified information that could compromise security. Instead, focus on highlighting the transferable skills and experiences that are relevant to the civilian job you're applying for. Be transparent about any gaps in your employment history caused by military service, as potential employers appreciate honesty. Additionally, showcase your adaptability and ability to learn new skills in the civilian world, emphasizing your potential as a valuable candidate. Balancing professionalism and honesty will help you create a compelling resume that grabs the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

Being Cautious with Active Combat Details in Your Resume

When crafting your resume as a military veteran, it's crucial to exercise caution when mentioning active combat details. Instead, focus on highlighting the leadership and problem-solving skills you developed during combat. Emphasize how your military experience can contribute to a civilian work environment, showcasing your ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions. However, it's important to use discretion when discussing sensitive topics related to combat. By being mindful of these considerations, you can effectively showcase your military skills and experiences without overwhelming potential employers with explicit combat details.

The Role of Cover Letters in Your Job Search

A well-crafted cover letter can make a difference in your efforts to move into a new industry. It provides an opportunity to personalize your application and showcase your motivation for the position. One key aspect is explaining how your military experience has prepared you for the civilian job. This helps address any potential concerns or questions the hiring manager may have. It's important to customize each cover letter to match the requirements of the job, demonstrating enthusiasm and passion for the specific position and company. By utilizing a cover letter effectively, you can stand out as a strong candidate in the eyes of potential employers and recruiters.

Writing a Military-to-Civilian Cover Letter that Stands Out

In order to write a military-to-civilian cover letter that stands out, it is important to hook the reader's attention right from the beginning. Start with a strong opening paragraph that grabs their interest and makes them want to keep reading. Then, highlight your transferable skills and explain how they relate to the job you're applying for. Provide specific examples of how your military experience is relevant to the position, demonstrating your knowledge of the company and industry. Show genuine interest in the position and explain why you are a good fit. By following these tips, you can create a cover letter that sets you apart from other applicants and catches the hiring manager's attention.

How can Military Personnel Make their Resumes More Civilian-Friendly?

To make military resumes more civilian-friendly, it's crucial to translate military jargon and acronyms into civilian language. Align your experience with civilian job titles, focusing on transferable skills. Tailor your resume to match specific job requirements and seek feedback for improvement. This could be from your veterans services contacts, friends, or even professional resume writing companies like The Contingent Plan.


In conclusion, a well-written veteran resume is crucial for acing your civilian job search. It's important to understand the civilian job market and the key differences between military and civilian job markets. Civilian employers look for specific qualities in a veteran's resume, so it's essential to translate your military skills into civilian language. Highlighting your military achievements in a way that resonates with the private sector is also important. A career summary can make a significant impact on your resume, so ensure it is effective and civilian-friendly. Including job training, certifications, and security clearances in your resume can further boost your chances. Balancing professionalism and honesty is crucial, especially when it comes to active combat details. Lastly, don't underestimate the role of a well-crafted cover letter in your job search. By following these tips, you can make your resume more civilian-friendly and increase your chances of landing your desired civilian job.

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