Last Updated on 02/12/2024
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 job requirements.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Add Military Experience to a Resume
- 2 Military Experience on Resume Examples
- 3 How to Write Military Experience on Resume
- 4 How to Write Military Experience on Resume
- 4.1 Translate Enlisted Military Titles
- 4.2 Attract Recruiters with Your Military Experience Summary
- 4.3 Military Resume Summary Example:
- 4.4 Military Expirience Resume Summary Example:
- 4.5 Adjust Acronyms and Military Terms
- 4.6 Job Description Keywords
- 4.7 Enforce Your Military Experience on Resume with Cover Letter and Objective
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 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.
- Marine Corps Captain responsible for commanding 62 Marines during combat operations by assessing tactical data and managing daily operations.
- Guided 62 subordinates through daily operations in the role of U.S. Marine Corps Captain while achieving management’s priorities and goals.
- CW2 Officer oversaw decontamination and disposal of hazardous materials and weapons in overseas theater.
- 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.
- O-2 U.S. Army Officer managed company during urban environment operations to locate and neutralize insurgents.
- 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.
- Air National Guard pilot completed demanding flight schedules that resulted in 20 missions in Afghanistan over the course of 6 weeks.
- 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:
- S-1 Advisor coordinated 15 joint missions between Iraqi and U.S. military personnel while managing command communications.
- 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 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.
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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 Military Service on Resume 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.
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 jobs.
Study these job postings and find the terms that employers used to describe the skills that they want. You’ll also get good ideas for friendly names for your military job titles.
Think of this process as reverse engineering. You find jobs in private sector 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.
Have someone without military experience read your resume. The feedback will help you fix areas that remain difficult to understand. Read more articles on how to write a resume with military service. Study the wording on these and adapt it to your circumstances without copying the text.
How to Write Military Experience on Resume
Writing your military career to resume takes more effort than transferring text from the VMET to a resume builder. You need to strip military jargon and acronyms from your work military experience.
Terms like SQDN, PCS, and UAV will likely mean nothing. Because writing a resume and translating military jargon for an audience are both challenging tasks, it’s best to break them up.
To begin, set aside worries about military terms and write a master military resume. Use the military terms that you’re familiar with on this first draft.
For the First Draft, focus on:
- Placing your strongest skills and accomplishments at the forefront
- Crafting a concise objective statement about your career goals
- Choosing verbs that convey action, responsibility, and success
- Including keywords that match up with the types of jobs that you want
For the Second Draft:
If possible, ask a nonmilitary person to read your first resume draft. The person could provide insights into which parts are the hardest to understand.
Look at that first draft yourself. Try to imagine that you have to explain it someone who knows nothing about military operations.
Circle or highlight your military titles, acronyms, equipment names, and duties to adjust the content of the resume.
Most of these will need to be adjusted or rephrased to communicate the military experience to resume effectively.
Translate Enlisted Military Titles
Enlisted service members have rank designations of E1 through E9. To make these labels meaningful for a state job recruiter, select generic terms like a team member or foreman.
Lower ranks E1 through E3 would translate into entry-level positions like technician or operator. The middle tiers of E4 to E6 would match with titles like an assistant manager or section leader. The top tiers of E7 to E9 correspond with roles like department manager or supervisor.
- Warrant Officer
- First Sergeant Manager
- Platoon Sergeant
- Personnel Specialist
- Senior Personnel and Program Manager
- Senior Technician, Technical Advisor, Chief
- Group Supervisor, Senior Advisor, Group
- First Line Supervisor, Training Instructor
- Administrative Clerk
It’s fine to mention your rank, but you should expand on the description to clarify its meaning for others.
Commissioned officers and warrant officers have similar designations with the letters O and W. Include terms that represent the greater responsibilities of these positions like a general manager or district director.
Attract Recruiters with Your Military Experience Summary
Let’s consider a resume summary for a job by the following military experience on resume example.
Rick Walker is a retired Quality Control Officer with 18 years of successful military aviation experience. Now he holds a position of a Operations Manager in one of the leading aviation company.
When it comes to showoff an impressive military history, Rick can choose the first option. But what are his chances of getting a job? Will HRs’ understand encrypted information with acronyms and abbreviations? Let’s get deeper into the subject.
Military Resume Summary Example:
Quality Control Officer
Proven leader with extensive experience for providing National Guard and aviation units with proper implementation of Army aircraft and airworthiness. Responsible for maintaining and repairing both UH-60 and UH-1 aircraft. Lead financial planning, prepared options, and recommendations on aircraft combat systems. Conducted training and mentoring battalion level maintenance management techniques to aviation maintenance officers.
But what if Rick will translate his responsibilities into civilian-friendly terms?
Military Expirience Resume Summary Example:
Dedicated supervisor with 18 years of experience in coordinating program activities for maintenance and repair work, useful in quality control checks. Responsible for the safe condition of over $32 million in aircraft and equipment. Reduced aircraft maintenance up to 34% due to implementation of cost-effective programs. Developed and implemented training programs; evaluated instruction and performance outcomes for employees.
As you can see several phrases, abbreviations and words substituted by general terms as aircraft and equipment instead of UH-60 and UH-1 aircraft, employees instead of soldiers.
Besides resume summary include exact numbers, which make it more competitive and attractive for recruiters.
Adjust Acronyms and Military Terms
Writing out the full names represented by acronyms could improve comprehension in most cases. Replace words like soldiers or airmen with personnel. In all places, make an effort to put your jargon into simple terms using words familiar to most people.
- Suspense Date
- Conflict, emergency situations, crisis
- Function, tasks, obligations, priorities
- Personnel, individuals, staff
You also need to interpret military jobs to state jobs for resume. It’s helpful to include facts and figures, such as how many people you supervised or how many pieces of equipment that you maintained.
After editing your first draft, your second draft will have shifted the resume from military to civilian terms. This process of altering military resumes for jobs prepares you to tailor the content for specific job applications.
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Job Description Keywords
The words used by an employer to describe an open position are vitally important. You need to incorporate these keywords into the top half of your resume.
Among Fortune 500 companies, 98% of them use software to scan resumes before forwarding them to actual recruiters. Analyze the terms in the job description and select those that fit with your skills. Change some of the terms on your resume if necessary to create keyword matches.
Just select your service (for example Air Force) and enter your MOS code (for example 11A4 – Airlift Pilot). Search for equivalent job titles and read a job description to match your experience.
Pick up a few keywords from the job description, and include into your ex-military resume.
Enforce Your Military Experience on Resume with Cover Letter and Objective
Your resume should include a brief statement about your job objective after your contact information. As succinctly as possible, explain how you wish to apply your valuable military training to the job. Explain how your military experience on resume will promote the employer’s goals in the military to resume objective.
Your letter offers a place where you can expand upon your objective and how it meets an employer’s purpose. Draw upon the military experience that you liked the most during your military career. Did you feel like you were thriving when collaborating with others? Did you contribute the most when operating heavy machinery?
Use these positive experiences to communicate your enthusiasm for a chance at employment.