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How to Transform Military Experience for Your Resume

US Army soldiers, men and woman, in camouflage combat uniform saluting. Cute flat cartoon style. Isolated vector illustration.

Working in the military provides many unique experiences that enhance your skill set, but it’s often specific to the branch of military where you work. When it’s time to transition into the civilian world, it might seem impossible to translate these experiences to catch the eye of a hiring manager.

With a little effort you can translate your military experience into compelling resume content and interview fodder so you stand out and get hired. Consider these four strategies to help you succeed:

Job-related skills

What about your responsibilities in the service is related to the job you want to apply for? You may have to think outside the box, but there’s probably a lot more than you may think on the surface. Leadership, teamwork, and organization are top qualities that employers want. Think about your military experience and apply these appropriately when constructing your resume and communicating experience during interviews.

Use civilian language

Working in the military means learning various phrases, codes, and acronyms. This is jargon to anyone outside the military, so it’s important to translate this language for the common person. Always use words and phrases that you believe a hiring manager could understand. For example, if you coached and evaluated soldiers, the hiring manager is not likely to understand the phrase NCOER. Focus on your actions and responsibilities, highlighting mentoring and leadership qualities.

Note: It’s always wise to have a trusted friend or family member who has never been in the military review your resume. They can point out areas that are confusing and need refining.

Paint a picture

Before an interview, think of specific stories of your time in the military that demonstrate some of the qualities the job listing is seeking. Even if it seems difficult to write down how these experiences translate, talking about them can truly paint a picture of your skill set. For example, tell a story that describes your leadership potential, ability to overcome adversity, determination, organization, and ability to work with a team.

Work with a career coach

It’s easy to get lost in the civilian job-seeker world. If you feel like you’re speaking a different language or feel isolated, it might be time to get some expert help. The GetFive career coaches can provide personalized guidance to help you overcome any hurdles so you can refine your search, create a compelling resume, and learn important interviewing skills. These are all necessary tools to get hired so you can successfully start the next exciting chapter of life in the civilian world.

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