Home Careers Demilitarizing Your Military Resume for a Civilian Career
Demilitarizing Your Military Resume for a Civilian Career

Demilitarizing Your Military Resume for a Civilian Career


military-civilian-resumeBy Adrienne Erin
Online Career Tips, Contributor

You might be an 0311 — ground pounder — in the United States Marine Corps for eight years. Maybe you’re a Navy Corpsman, with more field experience than any hospital internship could have ever provided. Or perhaps you’re a Gunnery Sergeant, training new recruits from dawn to, well, dawn.

Leaving the military can be as much of a culture shock as enlisting. But don’t worry; your military resume will transfer to a civilian career. You just have to learn how to speak civilian.

Start Transitioning

There’s more to being a civilian than getting a job. Remember how strange — or even difficult — the transition from civilian to military life was? That same stress can return when you make the transition back to being a civilian.

You’ll discover many resources for military personnel during this transition period, but the government Transition Assistance Program was specifically created to help ease the transition for military personnel and their families. Make use of these workshops and include your spouse or family.

Don’t miss out on useful opportunities. These courses will also help you make a connection between your military and civilian life, which will translate to your resume.

MOS to Civilian Career

Odds are good that it’s been years — or even decades — since you applied for a job. The most critical part of finding a job is, of course, your resume. Tailoring your military resume to fit a civilian career is a necessary evil.

Most civilians don’t understand what your military service really means, so listing that you were a vehicle commander on a light armored vehicle doesn’t automatically translate to “management experience” or “able to lead calmly during high stress situations.”

There are a few basic points to remember while you write your resume:

  • Your military position or title is less important in translation than what your position actually involved. Make sure you put the brunt of your focus on your experience.
  • Don’t list dozens of acronyms and awards. Just mention what’s appropriate when needed.
  • Keep it simple. Only elaborate when it’s absolutely necessary.

You can also and refer to these common military to civilian translations as needed.

Drop the Jargon

You’ve spent years, possibly decades, using career jargon that only applies to military careers. Not only do you have to learn how your military career translates to a civilian career, but you have to learn how to speak civilian, too.

You must also drop the jargon for positions that would place you as a civilian working for the military. Federal positions are sought after not only for the decent pay, but for the familiar atmosphere. But just because you’d be working on a base doesn’t mean it’s safe to use jargon.

Utilize Free Career Tools

There are free career tools available to you that can help with making the transition to a civilian work life. Here are two of the best:

  • com MOS Translator: Use this tool to help you sort out what skills your military career has provided you. It even simplifies terminology for civilian resumes.
  • Veterans Job Bank: This is a national directory that helps connect veterans with companies looking to hire vets. Why bother working for a company that doesn’t understand the military when there are so many employers looking for people just like you?

Whether you’re moving from a military desk job or an infantry position, your military career has provided you with a strong foundation to transition back to life as a civilian. Use the available resources to help consolidate your hard work into a well-deserved civilian position.