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Mastering the Transition: How to Write a Military to Civilian Resume

Transitioning from a military career to the civilian job market is a significant life change, and one of the most crucial elements of this transition is creating an effective military to civilian resume. Your military service has equipped you with valuable skills but translating them into a language that civilian employers understand can be challenging. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of crafting a military to civilian resume that showcases your strengths and helps you secure your desired civilian job.

Understanding the Military to Civilian Transition

Recognizing the Value of Your Military Experience

Your military service has provided you with a wealth of skills and experiences that are highly valuable in the civilian job market. These include leadership, discipline, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, and much more. The first step in creating an effective military to civilian resume is recognizing the unique qualities that make you a strong candidate.

Setting Clear Career Goals

Before you begin crafting your resume, it’s essential to define your career goals in the civilian world. Are you interested in continuing a similar career path, transitioning to a new industry, or exploring entirely different roles? Understanding your objectives will help you tailor your resume to align with your goals.

Resume Fundamentals

Resume Structure and Format

A well-structured resume is your ticket to grabbing an employer’s attention. The typical civilian resume includes several key sections:

  • Contact Information: Include your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile (if applicable). Avoid using military-specific email addresses or jargon in your contact details.
  • Summary or Statement: Craft a concise and compelling summary or objective statement that introduces you to potential employers and highlights your career goals and strengths.

Translating Military Experience

Use of Civilian-Friendly Language

One of the challenges in transitioning your military experience to a civilian resume is translating military jargon and acronyms into civilian-friendly language. Replace military terminology with civilian terms and language that a broader audience can easily understand.

Showcasing Achievements with Impact

In the military, you’ve likely achieved significant milestones, received awards, and demonstrated leadership. When describing your military roles, focus on your accomplishments. Use quantifiable data whenever possible to showcase your impact and effectiveness.

Highlighting Your Skills

Core Competencies Section

Create a section that lists your key skills and competencies. Include both soft skills (e.g., leadership, teamwork) and technical skills (e.g., programming, project management).

Technical Skills

Highlight any technical skills or certifications you acquired during your military service. These can be particularly valuable in certain civilian industries.

Education and Certifications

Military Education

List any military education and training you’ve received. Include the name of the institution, dates attended, and any relevant qualifications.

Civilian Education and Certifications

Include details of your civilian education, such as degrees, diplomas, and certifications. Mention any relevant coursework or certifications that pertain to your desired civilian career.

Work Experience

Chronological or Functional Resume

Choose a resume format that best suits your situation. A chronological resume focuses on your work history, while a functional resume highlights your skills and qualifications. Decide which format showcases your strengths most effectively.

Writing Powerful Bullet Points

When describing your military roles, use bullet points to highlight your achievements, responsibilities, and impact. Begin each bullet point with a strong action verb and quantify your accomplishments wherever possible.

References and Recommendations

Building a Strong Reference List

Compile a list of professional references who can vouch for your skills and character. These may include former supervisors, colleagues, or mentors.

Requesting Recommendations

Reach out to individuals who can provide recommendations or endorsements on platforms like LinkedIn. Personalized recommendations can carry significant weight in the civilian job market.

See articles on:

How To Build Your References List?

Why Are LinkedIn Recommendations Important?

Additional Resume Tips

Resume Length and Tailoring

Keep your resume concise, ideally limited to one or two pages. Prioritize the most relevant and recent information. Tailor your resume for each job application by emphasizing skills and experiences that align with the specific job requirements.

Proofreading and Editing

Thoroughly proofread your resume to eliminate errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Consider seeking feedback from mentors or career advisors.

See our resume blog articles on this.


Crafting a military-to-civilian resume is a crucial step in your transition to the civilian workforce. By recognizing your transferable skills, setting clear career goals, and following the guidelines provided in this guide, you can create a compelling resume that opens doors to exciting opportunities in the civilian world. Remember that your unique military experience is an asset, and with the right resume, you can successfully navigate this career transition.

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce may seem daunting, but with the right resume and a strategic approach, you can showcase your skills and experiences effectively. Use this comprehensive guide as your roadmap to success and take the first step toward a fulfilling civilian career. Good luck!

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