Former military members offer skills that are coveted by today’s employers. However, finding a good job may be one of the biggest challenges you will face once you leave. The first step to begin that search is to create a civilian resume. You will need to create an appropriately styled resume that is customized to communicate your unique military skill set in a manner that civilian employers can understand and appreciate. Finally, use your cover letter to show how your skills match the employer’s needs.
Identify Your Skills
Before you can begin creating your resume, you must take the time to note the skills you have gained in your service, that are transferable to a civilian position.
First, obtain your VMET also known as your military transcript which is kept by the DOD. This will be a current list of the training you received in the military, including any certifications. Often there is missing information, so please take time the time to go over it thoroughly.
- Make a list of skills
- Make a list of classes or training
- Make a list of certifications
Next, convert the military lingo into civilian terms. You may find this tool helpful. If there is not a civilian equivalent that is relevant to the training, think about the core value you gained from each skill and training. Focus on skills, not tasks. Such as:
- Ability to function in high-stress situations
- Ability to identify, set, and achieve goals and objectives
Choose Resume Style
There are many to from which to choose. If your entire work experience has been in the military, then a chronological style will work best. Include each transfer, promotion or change of responsibility as if it were a separate job. The great news for you is there are no gaps in employment that many in the civilian world struggle to explain. Make certain to keep each section brief and the entire resume under two pages (one page- if possible).
Customize Your Resume
If you are applying for a variety of job types, it is important to customize the experience and skills sections based on each job description. This process may also help when it comes to paring down your resume to a reasonable length.
If you are currently in school, place the education portion at the top, above work experience. Include information such as; the name of the institution you are attending, the type of degree you are pursuing, your major or area of concentration and if your GPA is 3.5 or higher — include it, if not it is acceptable to omit. Note any academic honors you have received. If you have participated in any research or projects related to your career objective, include those. Be sure to state the month and year in which you expect to graduate.
Create A Cover Letter
A well-written cover letter can highlight the various ways your unique military skills make you an excellent choice for the jobs for which you are applying. Take the time to draft a specific cover letter for each job you are applying. Mention in the first paragraph, the position you are seeking. Briefly, and without copying your resume, mention the skills that you have making you a qualified candidate. Always highlight your military experience. For most jobs, this will give you an advantage over others.
- Use reverse chronological order (most recent experience first).
- Use bullet points for skills.
- For readability use Arial or Times New Roman, size 10-12 point.
- Use standard letter-sized bonded paper in white or cream with black ink.
- Print on a laser printer, or have them printed.
- For electronic delivery, use the PDF format to preserve copy and ensure continuity across devices.
- Proofread and have someone else do so as well.
Your cover letter and resume are the first impressions you will make on a potential employer. Together they are your personal marketing statement. Take time to create a polished, thoughtful document that creates interest, and presents your unique value proposition. As a former member of the military, you have a lot to offer.