How To Transfer Military Skills To a Civilian Resume

It’s Veteran’s Day week and there will be a week-long celebration and thanking of veterans on our campus. This is also a time when veterans may be thinking of putting together their resumes for either graduation or an internship. Last year, I gave some advice to veterans about writing your resume. This year, I’d like to continue with some advice.

The first thing anyone wants to do is to gather their experience that will be useful to your new employer. Are you having difficulty remembering everything? The good news for you is your military experience has been recorded for you on your DD2586 form. It lists your military job experience and training history, recommended college credit information, and civilian equivalent job titles.

Now that you have a list of your experience, you need to translate them into skills and accomplishments. To do this, look at the qualifications and job description, check your experience, and decide which skills you used to perform these military jobs and what you accomplished by using those skills.

For example, if the job requires problem solving skills, you might say something to the effect of: “Troubleshoot operational functions to insure productivity and optimize quality.” In this case, you’ve listed the required skill – problem solving – and shown your accomplishment – insured productivity and optimized quality. Each job/internship will have its own required skills and accomplishments, so make sure you carefully read the job description to find what you need and list each one needed. Don’t list items that aren’t needed and stay away from listing your job duties or responsibilities. Stick with related skills and accomplishments.

A few things that are worth repeating:

  • Don’t forget volunteer information, especially if it’s relevant. Many of you in the military have had some very impressive volunteer experiences helping others. Don’t diminish that. These experiences can show good communication skills, diversity, problem solving, leadership, etc. Just because it wasn’t in your “job” description doesn’t mean it’s not an accomplishment!
  • Don’t forget other military advantages, things such as giving and following directions; working as team leaders (management experience) and members (teamwork is a highly valuable skill in the workplace these days); working with diversity; and the ability to work under pressure. Other advantages may include your military security clearance, attention to safety, working with expensive equipment, advanced technology and so forth.

Be sure to contact us if you need help with your resume and thank you for your service!