How to Translate Military Experience on Your Resume

November 12th 2013 in Resumes
My sister Jeni & her now hubby Rick when they served in the US Navy.  So proud of them both!
My sister Jeni & her now hubby Rick when they served in the US Navy. So proud of them both!


Back in my days as a Headhunter (pardon me, Executive Recruiter) I was repeatedly surprised when candidates would ask me if they should include their military service on their resumes.  As I work with professionals who have risked their lives for our freedom, it always saddens me that they fear they’ll be eliminated from the interview process because a hiring manager has a bias against military service or may not want to work with a candidate who is a reservist.  Shame on those hiring managers! But rather than focusing on their stupidity lets focus on a few tips that will help you share your military experiences effectively on your resume.

Know how your experience translates to the civilian world. 

I encourage all candidates to write their resumes and cover letters in such a way that someone outside of their industry will be able to read and understand what they’ve accomplished.  This is especially important for job seekers with military experience.  Civilian employers with no experience in the military will not understand what you did in the service and how it translates to their business.  This is where a well written resume and cover letter comes in.  A professional resume writer will be able to translate your military service to civilian speak.  For example, if you were a Squadron Superintendent in the US Air Force, this is a great opportunity to translate your accomplishments in a way that demonstrates your operations and strategic planning expertise.  If your entire career has been in the military, you’ll likely need the assistance of civilians to help translate your experience.  Hiring a professional resume writer will make a world of difference.

Get rid of the acronyms

Acronyms are a bad idea on a resume, especially military acronyms.  Civilians probably wont know what the acronyms mean and wont take the time to meet with you to find out.  The resume’s job is to showcase your accomplishments in a way that makes others want to hire you to accomplish similar things for their company.  If they’re lost in the acronyms, they’re less likely to call you in for an interview.

Seek out employers with military experience

In my headhunting days, I had a client who would interview every single candidate I sent him if they had military experience.  This client is a former Marine and values military service.  It really didn’t matter to him what branch of the military a candidate had been in or if they had any experience in his industry (high volume residential construction), he was always willing to give them a chance.  As you set your strategy for your job search, seek out professionals in your industry with past military experience.  Likely, they’ll be open to speaking with another veteran, making it easier to build rapport and communicate how your skills translate.  A quick search through LinkedIn will often tell you if someone has served and in what branch.

To have your resume reviewed and/or written by professionals who understand your military experience, contact us today at [email protected]

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