5 Resume Tips for Veterans

5 Resume Tips for Veterans

As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that prioritizes the hiring of veterans, SJS Executives solicits, receives and reviews dozens of veteran resumes every week. Because many of our staff members possess prior military experience, we understand the sophisticated terminology, concepts and acronyms found in most military resumes.

Unfortunately, civilian hiring managers often experience difficulty in interpreting these military terms and acronyms, which in turn leads to hiring problems like accidentally overlooking qualified job candidates.

How can you ensure your resume gets noticed, read and understood by civilian hiring managers so you get the job? Start by following these five (5) fast and easy resume tips designed for veterans who are transitioning into the civilian workforce, perhaps for the first time during their careers:

1. Translate your military rank into an equivalent civilian job title on your resume. For example, a Marine Corps First Sergeant is roughly equivalent to a civilian program manager, and an Army Platoon Sergeant is roughly equivalent to a civilian supervisor or trainer/instructor. ClearanceJobs.com has a handy article about how to convert your military rank into a civilian equivalent here. On your resume, use a brief sentence similar to this to define your military rank: "Served as a First Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, which is similar to a civilian program manager or department head."

2. Spell out the full name of each weapon system, equipment group or platform the first time it is mentioned in your resume, then use the appropriate acronym after that. For example, although you know what an MRAP vehicle is, a civilian hiring manager likely does not, so spell out "Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected" on first use, and then refer to the vehicle by the acronym MRAP afterwards.

3. Use numbers to quantify and define the extent of your military experience. For example, instead of simply stating on your resume that you worked as a supervisor, explain how you "supervised the organizational level maintenance activity of 12 junior personnel for three (3) years." If you worked on avionics on Apache Longbow helicopters, note on your resume that you were responsible for maintaining the avionics on a weapon system with a $65 million unit price. If you worked in logistics and were responsible for managing an inventory of 3,000+ parts or assets, quantify that experience. Numbers always impress.

4. List any relevant classes you took, and any special certifications you earned, while you served in the military. Provide details about any relevant technical or leadership courses and/or certifications you completed while you served in the military, including languages learned, if any. These classes all count as valid career experience, even if they did not result in attainment of college-level credits. Be sure to list the name of the military school or institution associated with each class and certification. Tip: Check your DD 214 form, which often lists these accomplishments, for ideas on what to include in your resume.

5. Be sure to include information about your military-derived leadership and management skills, and cite specific examples to illustrate them. Some of the common leadership and management skills veterans often possess include problem solving, strategic decision-making, project management, discipline, communications expertise, crisis management, conflict resolution, risk analysis, ability to work in a team driven environment and more. For each skill you cite, add a descriptive example to prove how you attained and/or applied that skill during your military service.

After you have implemented these five (5) resume strategies, your resume will be clear and understandable to civilian hiring managers—and your value as a prospective employee will be clear as well.

If you have recently completed active duty, or you are a veteran interested in working in a technical, industrial, manufacturing, logistics or similar position in Hampton Roads or other regions within the United States, please visit the SJS Executives Job Seekers page for more information about the positions SJS Executives has available.


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