Out of Uniform, Into the Workforce: Tips for Writing a Curriculum Vitae for Veterans

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The first step to any successful job application is a successful curriculum vitae for veterans.

If you’re transitioning out of the military and back into civilian life, there are a number of challenges you’ll have to face each day, from reconnecting with family to joining or creating community outside of the military.

Among the more galling challenges is trying to find a job in the civilian workforce.

It’s not easy finding a job that you feel qualified for after you’ve spent a significant portion of your career highly qualified to serve in the armed forces.

Here are a few tips to help you create a standout curriculum vitae (CV) for veterans and land the job you want.

Don’t Forget: A Curriculum Vitae for Veterans Will be Read by Civilians

It might sound glaringly obvious, but don’t forget that you’re applying for a civilian job with a civilian boss and civilian coworkers.

curriculum vitae for veterans-reading

Let’s say that you’re applying for a job in defense contracting or another military-related career. For those kinds of jobs, military acronyms and expressions are a strong point in your CV. They show career-specific knowledge and achievements.

But if you’re applying for a position in a company that has no connection to the military, those acronyms and expressions are actually a weak point in your CV.

The average hiring manager only spends about six or seven seconds reading your resume before they make a decision about you. If they don’t understand the terminology in your resume, you’re forcing them to waste precious seconds to figure it out, which means they’re more likely to discard your CV and move on to the next applicant.

Re-Weight Your Skills and Qualifications

Keeping in mind that you’re applying to work with civilians, you also need to spend some time re-weighting your skills and qualifications.

With any resume, you want to frontload the skills and qualifications most relevant to your current career path and objectives. Each job wants different things. Your goal is to show the hiring manager that you have the skills and background to excel in a specific role. The key to a successful curriculum vitae for veterans is simply to re-imagine your skills as they might fulfill each job role.

For example, let’s say you previously worked as a maintenance mechanic with tertiary responsibility for technical training, and now you’re applying to be a technical instructor.

Rather than putting your mechanic experience first, you should re-weight your resume to emphasize your experience in training others over your cut and dry mechanic experience.

Don’t Be Shy About Your Military Background (or Education)

Many veterans are unsure of how to include their military background. Some may shy away from including it at all.

But while it is important to frame your resume for civilians, don’t be afraid to highlight your military experience as an advantage to a future employer.

The military is a unique environment that prizes communication, teamwork, and the ability to follow directions in high-stakes, high pressure, fast-paced environments. You may not have the fancy degree of the next applicant, but you do have valuable real-world skills to offer.

And a curriculum vitae for veterans should reflect all of that.

You can show off these skills by highlighting things like:

  • Completed tours of duty
  • Any commendations
  • Service awards
  • Promotions

That said, don’t be shy about showing your educational background as well. Many veterans went to technical school, vocational school, or a four-year university before serving, and that can work to your advantage.

The key is to frame your educational experience in a way that shows how your background is well-suited to the position.

Develop a List of Technical (and Transferable) Skills

Veterans aren’t like other job applicants in that you don’t have directly transferable job titles.

What you do have is transferable job skills that are highly valuable to civilian employers, such as:

  • Teamwork
  • Strong work ethic
  • Discipline
  • Leadership
  • Ability to perform under pressure

The goal is to take these skills and use your military background to highlight these skills.

A curriculum vitae for veterans should also highlight technical skills. Some military jobs, like engineers, computer technicians, and mechanics, contain highly transferable technical skills, but you can still highlight these skills even if you weren’t in these kinds of jobs.

Here are a few of the most valuable technical skills to help you get started.

Seek Jobs That Match Specific Skill Sets

Finally, make sure to seek jobs that match the specific skills you have to offer.

As a veteran, you have all kinds of skills that civilian employers prize. The key is to find a job that suits your experience and be selective in what you put on your resume. Only include the skills that are most relevant to the job in question.

Veterans have a multitude of skills that civilian employers desire. Be selective and find the one that best suits your experience. Click To Tweet

Do You Need Help Transitioning?

If you’re a veteran that needs help transitioning to civilian life, you’ve got enough to deal with. The last thing you need to worry about is a hiring manager reading your resume when you already know you have valuable skills to bring to the table.

If you need more guidance in getting your civilian career off to the right start, we can help. Check out our site for more useful tips on how to get your career on track. If you are ready to go and searching for a new job, click here to go to our job board!


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