Resume Writing Tips for Military Veterans

Resume Writing Tips for Military Veterans

When you leave your career in the military and embark on a new journey, you face many challenges. One of the first challenges is finding a new job, and that requires you to have a stellar resume. But how do you transform your military background into something relevant to the civilian sector? Follow these tips for the best results.

Start with a Professional Summary

The first part of your resume should be three or four sentences about what you've done with your career. In that summary, you should have a few details about what value you can bring as an employee.

This is the first thing a prospective employer will look at, so take your time writing the summary. As you already know, first impressions matter. You need to catch the reader's attention and tempt them to read on.

Define Your Civilian Objective

If you don't have a goal for your civilian career, you won't market yourself well. A hiring manager wants to see that you have a clear vision for your future. One of the biggest mistakes made by veterans is to create a broad resume that doesn't focus on one job.

Even if you're uncertain of your career path, don't include that on your resume. Tailor your summary for the specific job listing. While you may be able to keep some of the language the same, you should alter your goals to meet each job description.

With that said, you shouldn't just apply for any and every job listing. You might need to do some soul searching before you begin the job hunt. As you think about what you want to do with the rest of your life, make a list of all the options. If you struggle to come up with ideas, talk to a career coach. You don't want to pursue the wrong path, or you could be unhappy or unemployed in only a short time.

Speak to the Employer's Needs

As you write your resume, think about the purpose of your resume. A resume is supposed to tell an employer what you will provide them with. It's not an autobiography or a laundry list of your accomplishments.

To get an idea of what employers need, read job listings. Check out the skills section and pay close attention to what employers have listed. When you write your resume, include the skills that are most relevant to your desired job. In the military, you probably had a wide variety of duties and skills. But your prospective employer doesn't care about irrelevant details.

As proud as you are of your military awards and trainings, don't include them on your resume unless they are relevant to the job. For instance, a marksmanship award won't impress an employer who's hiring an account representative. It's common for veterans to have excessively long resumes, and this is often to their detriment. Try to keep your resume to one or two pages.

If it seems like there's not enough room to include all the pertinent details, think about it this way. The resume is a way to get you a job interview. During the interview, you will have an opportunity to discuss your other skills and abilities.

Assume the Reader Knows Nothing of the Military

Because you spent so many years serving the country, you probably forgot that not everyone had experience in that same world. If you include military job titles, terms, and training, the hiring manager may not understand your resume. And they certainly won't take the time to research the definitions.

It's your job to make the resume easy to read. Therefore, you should demilitarize the job titles, duties, and more. Before you submit your resume, have someone who has no knowledge of the military read it over. Ask them for feedback and take their criticism to heart. Edit the resume as necessary, and you can be certain the hiring manager will understand your resume.

Highlight What You've Accomplished

Don't fool yourself into thinking you have no civilian skills. As a veteran, you probably have more skills than most job applicants. You received training, experience, and leadership skills. On your resume, proudly showcase what you learned and accomplished in the military.

When you do this, quantify your achievements in a way the hiring manager can understand. Use numerical outcomes to show how you improved a process or situation. For instance, you may have increased employee retention by 15%. This is a great example because it translates the military achievement into words that any civilian can comprehend.

You can do the same with your awards. After you mention the award, explain why you were given it. For instance, you may have improved results by a certain percentage or led 200 people to accomplish a mission.

Leave Out the Details of Combat

There's no reason to exclude the fact that you were in combat on your resume. At the same time, you don't want to include gory details about what you experienced on the battlefield. Most employers will struggle to read about it and may not hire you based on their negative reaction.

If you mention your combat experience, describe how it relates to the job. Soft skills, like team-building and leadership, are always good to include on a resume. As long as you skip the gore and can tie your combat experience to the job, you can use it on your resume.

Take Advantage of Your Resources

Sadly, not all veterans realize the many resources available to them. You're not on your own when you leave the military. The government and non-profit agencies offer a long list of employment assistance to veterans.

If you're not familiar with these resources, do a quick internet search. Then, reach out to your local veteran's affairs branch. They may be able to point you in the right direction and get you started on the job hunt. Regardless of which resources you use, following the tips above can make all the difference.

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