5 Military To Civilian Resume Mistakes to Avoid


You used to think boot camp and deployment were difficult, then you sat down to write your resume. One of the most difficult aspects for many people transitioning from military to civilian careers is presenting their skills in a manner for someone outside of the armed forces to easily understand. Fortunately, this is a battle easily won—start by avoiding these five common military-to-civilian resume mistakes.



Speak Civilian


The armed forces has a language of its own, filled with acronyms and jargon which isn’t understood by civilian recruiters and hiring managers. Recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds skimming a resume—consequently, they will not spend the time to Google what OPTEMPO or MTOE is.


To create a standout civilian resume, it’s vital for you to demilitarize your job titles, skills, experiences, and awards—translating them into civilian-friendly language. Spell out each acronym and add context to positions by explaining the relevant and transferable aspects of the position. Really wow potential employers by substituting keywords from the job description for military terms. Before submitting your resume, ask a non-military friend to read it and point out any terms they don’t understand.



Sell Your Service


Professional resume writers encourage people transitioning from the military to civilian fields to place a strong summary statement near the top of their resume. Use your summary statement to demonstrate to employers how your time in the military transfers to the role you’re applying for, express enthusiasm for starting your new career outside of the armed services, and show them how you’ll benefit their business.


More and more employers are looking at resumes on mobile devices like tablets and phones. This makes the top of your resume incredibly important. Consider a summary statement as your pitch to recruiters and hiring manager to keep reading your resume—show off your best skills, most relevant experiences, and awe-worthy awards. Remember to use language easily understood by civilians.



Hit the Target


No matter if you’re changing jobs in the private sector or transitioning from the military to a civilian career, it’s vital to target your resume to specific positions and employers. Make a list of the technical skills and soft skills you’ve acquired during your service, along with jobs held and notable accomplishments; tactically deploy them depending on the position you’re applying for. Employers love specifics, and numbers jump off a page—make sure to include facts like the number of personnel you managed and the value of any equipment you oversaw.


The use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) by employers is becoming increasingly common— 491 Fortune 500 companies use an ATS. This makes it extremely important for applicants to incorporate keywords. Go through the job description of the position, along with a few other job descriptions for similar positions, pick out the recurring words, and include them in your resume.



Brevity is Best


One of the challenges facing candidates transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce is capturing a long career in the service on a short resume. However, any professional resume writer will tell you it’s imperative that your resume not extend any longer than two pages. On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes—meaning busy recruiters don’t have the time to sift through overly long resumes.


Since recruiters and hiring managers receive so many resumes, a concise and visually appealing resume pops off the pile. Certified resume writers encourage you use an engaging and easily readable format, spotlighting your most relatable and impressive skills, experiences, and accomplishments.



Leave the Battlefield Behind


Serving and defending your country is the most admirable pursuit; however, many employers are squeamish about the realities of combat. The best resumes focus on your skills that will most easily transfer to the employer. If one of those skills is, for example, the ability to operate under pressure, and is best exemplified from your time on the battlefield go ahead and include it—just soften the language, tailoring it toward someone who’s never witnessed combat.



Need to Know


A favorite saying throughout the armed service is good initiative, bad judgement. Translated to civilian, this means stepping up to solve a problem with an ineffective solution. This also describes a lot of resumes created by military personnel transferring to non-military fields, as they fail to capture the enormous value ex-military offer today’s businesses.


If you need help crafting a winning resume that puts you in the best possible light, visit SoCalResumes today to get started!! In appreciation and thanks for your service and sacrifice to our country, we offer all US Veterans and Active Military Personnel a 20% discount (Promo Code: MILITARY).

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