Writing a Civilian Resume

Writing a Civilian Resume

Many transitioning veterans have never written a civilian resume, especially if they joined the military straight from high school. This process can be intimidating even to civilians who have been in the workforce for a while. Resumes are perhaps the most important part of applying for jobs-your resume is the first thing potential employers see and is the chance to show off your skills and experience. Veterans have knowledge and skills that many civilians do not. These skills easily transfer to civilian careers and will make you stand out.

Here are some tips to help write a civilian resume.

List your skills and experience

Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense. This will give you an overview of the skills you gained in the military depending on your position and branch. These skill descriptions can be easily applied to your civilian resume. Jobs and skills like computer technicians, engineers, and mechanics can be easily converted to civilian careers, and are sought after skills. Also, include your intangible skills like leadership and work ethic.

Choose a resume style

There are many ways to organize a resume to highlight your skills, strengths, and qualifications.

Here are the different styles of resumes:

Chronological-this is the most common type and lists your most recent employer first and goes back as far as you want to go in your career history. Chronological resumes include your duties and accomplishments for each job.

Functional-highlights your skills. This resume is recommended for those who have gaps in their resume. Skills and accomplishments are listed as well, but does not include a comprehensive chronological job history.

Combination-uses both styles with skills being the main part of the resume.

Include all the important parts

Make sure to have your contact information, including your address and email. You can also add an objective or summary that states what sort of job you are looking for. Highlight your skills and qualifications underneath the objective or summary as these are more important than your work history. Skills and qualifications are what makes you a fit for a job and not necessarily where you’ve worked in the past. Also, be sure to include your education and training. Also, make sure to add any special skills like foreign languages or any specialized computer skills you might have.

Translate your military experience to civilian terms

When applying to civilian jobs with extensive military experience, this is the most important aspect of your resume. For example, replace “officer in charge” with terms like “managed.” Do not include military jargon or abbreviations as most civilians will not know what they mean or how they relate to the job you are applying for.

For additional information on creating a civilian resume, visit the resume builder from the U.S. Department of Labor. Also, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs provides many career resources.


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