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Resumes for Members of the Military Transitioning to Civilian Careers

In this article, you will find resume tips for:

  • Medical Laboratory Supervisor
  • Power Plant/Utility Supervisor
  • Truck Driver / Equipment Operator
  • Systems Engineer
  • Marketing Manager
  • Chief Financial Officer

You've served your country proudly, protecting and defending the American way of life. Now your duty is done and you're ready to take that big step back into civilian life. Perhaps you had a career before your service which you hope to return to; maybe you're counting on your military training to provide you with marketable skills. Whichever the case, if you are a member of the military about to move back into the civilian world, there are several key things to remember as you prepare your resume and cover letters. Here are just a few tips that you may find helpful:

  1. Think of your skills and experiences in civilian terms. Much of the jargon that is commonly used in everyday military operations has little meaning for a civilian audience. Some of the acronyms familiar to military people are positively cryptic to a civilian audience. Whenever possible, use terms in your resume that relate to the civilian world. For example, if your skills include driving tanks or repairing half-tracks, your resume should say something similar to, “operated heavy equipment” or “maintained large diesel engines.”
  2. Use civilian job titles instead of military ranks or designations. As an example, a colonel in the Army whose responsibilities encompassed budgeting and financial management for a military base can legitimately use the job title “controller” or “chief financial officer” on his or her resume, which is indicative of his or her civilian career objective. Instead of “sergeant” or “E-5,” use the term “supervisor,” “warehouse manager” or “logistics coordinator,” as the case may be.
  3. Use your cover letter to describe how your military experience has prepared you for your next career. If you have completed training that prepares you for a particular career field, be sure to mention it prominently in your cover letter. If the discipline of the military environment has taught you how to set priorities, meet goals, and exercise sound judgment under pressure, be sure to highlight these abilities as well. Civilians often speak of grace under fire in figurative terms, but you may have exhibited such qualities in literal terms on the battlefield, as part of a flight crew, or aboard a warship.
  4. Be quantitative in talking about your responsibilities. The hiring manager who is interviewing you may have no idea how many infantrymen there are in a platoon, how many sailors are aboard a destroyer, or the volume of equipment and supplies a typical Marine division may inventory. If your areas of accountability include such things, be sure to explicitly spell out how many or how much when you write your resume and cover letters.

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