Through your military service, you have and gained invaluable skills that are an asset to any civilian role. Employers want your expertise, but conveying those skills to recruiters and hiring managers takes some work. Transiting to the civilian workforce means you will need to learn how to decipher your military experience into a civilian resume that anyone can quickly and easily understand. 

We know that you have just under a minute to stand out to a recruiter or hiring manager. Doing the work upfront to translate your experience and skills offers you a higher chance of being matched to your dream career. 

List Your Accomplishments 

Crafting a standout resume is not just about capturing your job description. Start by listing out all your accomplishments from your time in the service. What are the concrete achievements you made in your role(s)? What promotions or awards have you earned, initiatives where you a part of, did you participate, or assist in any pieces of training

Having a bank of accomplishments to pull from will make your application process quick and easy. You will be ready to pull details as they relate to new career opportunities quickly. 

 Decode Your Experience

Now that you have all your experience and skills mapped out it is time to translate them. Transforming your resume into civilian language isn’t as complicated as it might seem. 

When writing any resume, it is essential to remember the person on the other end does not have your same experience. Think, if any stranger off the street were to read this, would they understand what you mean. This rule applies regardless if you have military experience or not. Zooming out on your experience will help make sense of it to others. 

That means no jargon. Need some help? Check out these military occupation translators. These are a great place to start. Veterans Jobs Skill Translator   Civilian-to-Military Occupation Translator

Begin to break down the skills you gained and utilized in the military. Communication, managing a team, financial expertise, reporting. You learned valuable technical and interpersonal skills that apply to any civilian role. Make sure that you are capturing and highlighting these for your civilian resume.  

Go back to that bank of accomplishment you just created and start to rewrite them. Create bullets you will be able to pull from when putting your resume together later. 

Don’t be afraid to get a second set of eyes. Have someone without military experience review your list. Does it make sense to them?  

Create a Template 

Your resume will change with each job application, but having a template that already includes your contact information, titles times in roles, makes the application process quick and seamless. 

You can create a template or use any of the thousands online. Please keep it to one page and leave the descriptions and skills blank. This way, you will be able to plug and play your accomplishments as they best relate to each job description. 

Select the Right Skills 

You have identified all the skills and experience you bring to the table, translated them into a language that’s easy and quick to understand, and your template is ready to go. Now you are prepared to start looking for a new career. 

We all know by now you don’t send the same resume for every job application. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Remember how we said you have just under a minute to impress that recruiter. 

Resumes do not need to include everything, accomplishment, detail of your military experience. It can feel like every line is essential, but remember your resume is like your elevator pitch.  

Review the job description and highlight any areas you think your skills align with. Now grab the list of your experiences. Find the accomplishments and abilities that best relate to the job description.  

Drop them into your template, and you are ready to go. 


Looking for more information and resources on the transition to civilian roles? Check out our Veteran Resource Center