Fresh Out of the Military: What is a Civilian Resume and Why Do I Need One?

2 min read time

Surviving life in the military is no easy feat, but now you feel confident that you can tackle anything life throws at you, including finding a job as a civilian.


The transition to a normal job can be challenging, and you’ll need to prepare accordingly if you want to increase your chances of getting the job you really want.

Your search for a civilian job starts with a resume that’s tailored to the civilian workforce. This can look strikingly different than your military resume, so let’s take it step by step:

Translate Your Job Experience

Though you likely won’t engage in hand to hand combat or drive tanks for your new job, much of what you learned in the military will relate to your civilian job. The trick is knowing how to translate your skills and experience in a way that the recruiter understands and that can be applied to the position you want.

First and foremost, your resume will need to communicate what’s in it for the employer (the value you provide). Essentially, it's what the company cares about, and you’ll need to demonstrate what you can offer. To do this, don’t just talk about what you did (e.g. managed a team of 8 people, routinely patrolled the grounds, etc.). Instead, show the impact of your job duties and skills. Talk about your successes, how your actions contributed to growth or development, how you solved problems, and what you accomplished.

List Your Technical Skills

Military members have a mile-long list of technical skills that will easily translate into the civilian working world. Things like budgeting, accounting, inventory, computer skills, and speaking multiple languages deserve a spot on your resume.

Don’t Forget Your Intangible Skills

Intangible skills are valuable assets in civilian work, and you had them en-grained in you while in the military. Leadership, time management, critical thinking, problem-solving, and a positive attitude are common skills among military members that many civilians simply don’t have.

Avoid Complex Military Jargon

Unless your job recruiter or interview is also former military, they likely have no clue about your E6 ranking or GPMG. Make sure your content is easily understood by civilians. Your goal is to impress them with your skills and expertise, not your military terminology.

In addition, keeping your content simple can help you to get around resume screening software. More companies are using automated tools to pre-sort resumes before a recruiter ever sees them. The easier these tools are able to scan your resume, the better chance your resume has of making it to the recruiter’s desk.

Keep it Simple and Concise

With your years of expertise in the military, you could write a whole book detailing your adventures, skills, and experiences. But your resume isn’t the place to tell it all. Keep your content limited to about 1-2 pages. Recruiters only spend a few seconds reading it, so be picky about what you decide to share and make it count.

Are you ready to transform your military experience into a civilian career? We've helped lots of veterans and are ready to help YOU! Reach out today for a consultation and start creating a winning resume!