military experience on resume examples

Military service immerses people in a separate world with its terminology, codes, job titles, and acronyms. When it’s time for you to enter the civilian job world, your resume with military experience might confuse job recruiters. They often have trouble connecting military job descriptions with civilian job requirements.

Read our detailed guide on How to Write a Resume From Military to Civilian

How to Add Military Experience to a Resume

To fix the problem, you’ll strip away the military language and write the resume for a general audience. The effort will be worthwhile because then you can make a resume with military experience that gets you interviews.

Don’t describe yourself this way:

  • MOS 12B Combat Engineer charged with establishing secure routes for HMMWV movements.

A better approach for a civilian audience would be:

  • Civil Engineering Technician in charge of building roads for use by heavy vehicles.

The second strategy for successfully adding military experience to your resume involves how you present the information. Surely you’ve been asking yourself should I put military service on my resume?

You'll naturally feel inclined to place the military at the center of your writing. But for better results, frame your work experience descriptions around the civilian job opening. Introduce your skills in the context of the job that you're applying for and then mention that they came from military service.

Military Experience on Resume Examples

The following Do and Don't resume sample excerpts illustrate how to put military experience on resume.

Don't: 

  • Marine Corps Captain responsible for commanding 62 Marines during combat operations by assessing tactical data and managing daily operations.

Do:

  • Guided 62 subordinates through daily operations in the role of U.S. Marine Corps Captain while achieving management's priorities and goals.

Don't: 

  • CW2 Officer oversaw decontamination and disposal of hazardous materials and weapons in overseas theater.

Do:

  • Determined the safest methods for processing hazardous materials encountered by personnel during field operations in the role of Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army.

Don't: 

  • O-2 U.S. Army Officer managed company during urban environment operations to locate and neutralize insurgents.

Do:

  • Worked as executive officer managing 1,000-person company for 3 years to complete 59 complex missions that required coordination of information from multiple agencies while serving as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Don't: 

  • Air National Guard pilot completed demanding flight schedules that resulted in 20 missions in Afghanistan over the course of 6 weeks.

Do:

  • Experienced pilot rated among the top 1% of peers after flying 20 missions to transport 30 tons of equipment and 120 passengers while serving in the Air National Guard.

This is an extended description of how to include military service on a resume, example:

Don't: 

  • S-1 Advisor coordinated 15 joint missions between Iraqi and U.S. military personnel while managing command communications.

Do:

  • Professional entrusted with personnel management duties including payroll, vacations, and communications who served as the lead coordinator with Iraqi allies while deployed as the battalion commander's chief personnel officer with U.S. Army consulting group.

Where Do You Put Military Experience on a Resume?

You could describe your service under the heading Military Experience. This is appropriate if you have other civilian work experience that you want to mention. If all of your work history comes from military service, then you can simply label the section Work History or Work Experience.

Within your Military Experience or Work History section, you can choose the:

Chronological Approach - List your jobs and describe your skills and duties. Explain to them how they will fit the employer's goals. If you're wondering how to list military experience on a resume, it's acceptable to use bullet points under each job.

Skills-Based Approach - Break out the information into subsections that draw attention to your abilities. Leadership Skills or Technical Skills are typical examples. Use the requirements in the job description to help you select your strongest skills for the position.

One more option where to put your military service on resume is to add section headings like Special Training or Awards and Honors.

Doubt how to add your military experience for a civilian job? Check out Military Transition Resume Writing Services.

How to Write Military Experience on Resume

Quantify the results of your work as much as possible. Include percentages, numbers, or other quantifiable results as you explain your accomplishments.

Don't assume job recruiters will know things like how many people form a platoon or flight crew. Cite any awards or commendations that you received. This shows employers that you excelled in your work. You need to be precise on how to list military service on resume. If you want to mention decorations and awards, explain the details that led superiors to recognize you.

Good Example:

Supervised 6 mechanics on a crew that maintained 50 armored vehicles and reduced rate of mechanical failures in the field by 11% over 2 years.

Look over the job description and find keywords that the employer used to describe the duties and requirements. Make it your top priority to communicate your skills that match the keywords. Regardless of your resume format, your text should contain the keywords used by the employer.

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How to Translate Military Experience to Resume

Use online resources to find job positions and descriptions that fit your military experience. The MOS Code to Civilian Occupation Translator and Military.com's Skills Translator take your military job and show you applicable civilian jobs.

Study these civilian job postings and find the terms that civilian employers used to describe the skills that they want. You'll also get good ideas for civilian-friendly names for your military job titles.

Think of this process as reverse engineering. You find civilian jobs for your military experience and then harvest civilian terminology from them for your resume.

Highlight Your Security Clearance

Always mention your security clearance prominently. Security clearance communicates your trustworthiness and ability to pass a background check.

  • Don't lean on military codes like TS/SCI.
  • Do state exactly that you had a security clearance that authorized your access to sensitive information.

Get Feedback

Have someone without military experience read your resume. The feedback will help you fix areas that remain difficult for a civilian to understand. Read more articles on how to write a resume with military service. Check out military to civilian resume samples. Study the wording on these and adapt it to your circumstances without copying the text.

federal resume writerLinda R. Bedford

Linda is a Professional Resume Writer and Veteran Transition Specialist. Her expertise range across a large spectrum of industries. She loves coaching with people and helps job-seekers in transitioning to their next and best chapter.

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