Resume Writing Tips For Veterans

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Are you a veteran transitioning to civilian life and struggling to create a strong resume? You’re not alone.

Many veterans find it challenging to translate their military experience into terms that civilian employers can understand. 

However, with a few resume writing tips specifically tailored to veterans, you can showcase your skills and experiences in a way that will catch the attention of potential employers.

One of the first things to keep in mind when writing your resume is to focus on your transferable skills.

While the specific duties of your military job may not directly translate to a civilian position, the skills you gained can be applied in a variety of settings.

For example, if you were a squad leader in the military, you likely have experience in leadership, organization, and communication. These are all valuable skills that can be highlighted on your resume.

Another important aspect to consider is the language you use on your resume.

Avoid using military jargon or acronyms that may not be familiar to civilian employers. Instead, use clear and concise language to describe your experiences and achievements.

Understanding the Civilian Job Market

A veteran sits at a desk, surrounded by papers and a computer. They are writing a resume and researching tips for transitioning into the civilian job market

While military experience is valuable, it’s important to know how to translate your skills and experience into terms that civilian employers can understand.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the civilian job market:

Translating Military Experience

Military jargon and acronyms can be confusing to civilians, so it’s important to use plain language when describing your experience.

For example, instead of saying you were a “68W,” you could say you were a combat medic.

Another important step in translating your military experience is to focus on your accomplishments rather than your duties.

For example, instead of saying you were responsible for maintaining equipment, you could say you were responsible for ensuring the readiness of equipment, resulting in a 95% operational readiness rate.

Identifying Transferable Skills

Another key to success in the civilian job market is identifying your transferable skills.

These are skills and experiences that are relevant to civilian jobs and can be applied in a different context.

To identify your transferable skills, start by looking at your military experience and identifying the skills and experiences that are relevant to civilian jobs.

Then, think about how you can apply those skills and experiences in a different context. For example, if you were a team leader in the military, you could apply your leadership skills to a management position in the civilian workforce.

Researching Civilian Job Titles

Finally, it’s important to research civilian job titles to understand the requirements and qualifications for different positions. This will help you identify the skills and experiences you need to develop in order to be competitive in the civilian job market.

Start by researching job titles that are similar to your military occupation. Then, look at job postings for those positions to see what qualifications and experience are required. 

This will give you an idea of what skills and experience you need to develop in order to be competitive in the civilian job market.

Also See: Tips on Resume Formatting

Crafting Your Resume

When it comes to crafting your resume as a veteran, there are a few key things to keep in mind. The following subsections will help guide you in choosing the right format, structuring your resume effectively, and highlighting your leadership and achievements.

Choosing the Right Resume Format

Some common formats include chronological, functional, and combination resumes. A chronological resume is a great choice if you have a strong work history in your field. This format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job.

A functional resume, on the other hand, focuses on your skills and abilities rather than your work history.

This format can be a good choice if you are changing careers or have gaps in your employment history. Finally, a combination resume combines elements of both chronological and functional formats.

Structuring Your Resume Effectively

No matter which format you choose, it’s important to structure your resume effectively. This means organizing your information in a way that is easy to read and understand. Then, list your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job.

Highlighting Leadership and Achievements

As a veteran, you likely have a wealth of leadership experience and accomplishments that you can highlight on your resume.

Be sure to also emphasize any transferable skills you have gained during your military service, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and attention to detail. 

Writing Strong Bullet Points

When it comes to writing your resume as a veteran, it’s important to have strong bullet points that effectively showcase your skills and accomplishments. Here are a few tips to help you create bullet points that stand out:

Action-Oriented Language

Using action-oriented language is key to crafting strong bullet points. Start each bullet point with a strong action verb that accurately describes the task or accomplishment.

This not only makes your bullet points more engaging, but it also helps to convey your skills and experience to potential employers.

Quantifying Accomplishments

Quantifying your accomplishments is another effective way to make your bullet points stand out. Instead of simply listing your responsibilities, try to include specific metrics or numbers to demonstrate your impact. This helps to demonstrate your value and accomplishments in a tangible way.

Focusing on Relevance

Finally, it’s important to focus on relevance when crafting your bullet points. Make sure that each bullet point is directly related to the job you’re applying for and highlights skills and experience that are relevant to the position.

Avoid including irrelevant information or skills that don’t apply to the job. This helps to ensure that your resume is focused and targeted, which can increase your chances of getting hired.

Also See: Resume Writing Tips For Journalists

Tailoring Your Resume

As a veteran, it’s important to showcase your skills and experiences in a way that makes sense to civilian employers. Tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for can significantly increase your chances of getting hired. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Analyzing Job Descriptions

Before you start customizing your resume, take some time to analyze the job description.

Pay attention to the job requirements, qualifications, and responsibilities.

This will give you a better idea of what the employer is looking for and help you tailor your resume accordingly.

Customizing for Each Application

It’s important to customize your resume for each job application. This means tweaking your resume to match the specific job requirements and qualifications.

You can do this by highlighting relevant skills and experiences, using keywords from the job description, and adjusting your resume format to match the company’s style.

One way to customize your resume is by using a summary or objective statement that highlights your skills and experiences that match the job requirements.

You can also create a skills section that lists your relevant skills and experiences. Use bullet points to make it easier for the employer to scan and read.

Another way to customize your resume is by rearranging your work experience section to highlight your most relevant experiences.

You can also adjust your job titles and descriptions to match the job requirements. For example, if the job requires leadership skills, you can emphasize your leadership experiences in your job descriptions.

Professional Summary and Objective

Writing a Captivating Summary

Your professional summary is the first thing a potential employer will read on your resume, so it’s important to make it count. Keep it concise and compelling, highlighting your most relevant skills and experiences. 

Consider using bullet points to make your summary easier to read and to draw attention to your key strengths. Use action verbs to describe your accomplishments and showcase your skills.

Setting a Clear Career Objective

It should demonstrate your understanding of the position and the company, and show how your skills and experience align with their needs.

For example, instead of saying “Looking for a challenging role in a dynamic environment,” say “Seeking a position as a project manager in a fast-paced tech startup, where I can leverage my experience in Agile methodology to drive successful project outcomes.”

Also See: Resume Writing Tips For Engineers

Education and Training

As a veteran, you have likely received extensive education and training throughout your military career. It is important to showcase this education and training on your resume to demonstrate your qualifications to potential employers.

Listing Education Credentials

When listing your education credentials, be sure to include the degree or certification earned, the institution attended, and the date of graduation.

If you have multiple degrees or certifications, list them in reverse chronological order, with the most recent degree or certification first. Here is an example of how to list your education credentials on your resume:

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, University of Maryland, May 2010
  • Master of Science in Information Technology, American Military University, December 2015

Including Relevant Training and Certifications

In addition to your formal education, you may have received specialized training and certifications during your military service.

These can be valuable assets to include on your resume, especially if they are relevant to the position you are applying for.

When listing your training and certifications, be sure to include the name of the course or certification, the organization that provided the training, and the date of completion. Here is an example of how to list your training and certifications on your resume:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, June 2016
  • Combat Lifesaver Certification, U.S. Army Medical Department, July 2012

Additional Resume Sections

As a veteran, you may have a unique set of experiences and skills that are not typically 

found in civilian resumes. Including additional sections in your resume can help highlight these qualities and make you stand out as a candidate.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work can be a great way to showcase your dedication and commitment to your community. If you have volunteered with organizations such as the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity, be sure to include this in your resume.

List the organization, the dates you volunteered, and a brief description of your duties. This can show potential employers that you are not only a skilled worker, but also a compassionate and engaged member of your community.

Professional Affiliations

If you have been a member of any professional organizations related to your military experience or your desired career field, include this in your resume. List the organization, your membership status, and any leadership positions you may have held.

Languages and Technical Skills

If you are bilingual or have technical skills that are relevant to your desired job, make sure to include this in your resume. This can show potential employers that you have additional skills that may be valuable to their organization. 

List the language(s) you speak and your proficiency level, or list the technical skills you have and your level of expertise.

Also See: Cover Letter Vs Curriculum Vitae

Cover Letters and References

Crafting a Compelling Cover Letter

A cover letter is an essential part of your job application, and it’s your opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you’re the best fit for the position.

To craft a compelling cover letter, you should start by researching the company and the position.

Use the job description to identify the key skills and qualifications the employer is looking for, and highlight how your experience and training align with those requirements.

When writing your cover letter, be sure to keep it concise and focused. Avoid repeating information from your resume, and instead, use your cover letter to provide additional context or details that will help set you apart from other applicants.

Selecting and Presenting References

References are an important part of your job search, and they can help demonstrate your qualifications and character to potential employers.

When selecting your references, be sure to choose individuals who can speak to your skills and work ethic, and who have a positive impression of you.

It’s important to ask your references for permission before including them on your job application.

You should also provide them with a copy of your resume and the job description, so they can speak specifically to the skills and experience required for the position.

When presenting your references, include their name, job title, and contact information, as well as a brief description of your relationship to them.

You can list your references on a separate page or include them at the bottom of your resume. Be sure to format your reference list in a clear and consistent manner, using bullet points or tables to make it easy to read.

Resume Review and Feedback

As a veteran, it’s important to make sure your resume is tailored to the civilian job market. One of the best ways to ensure your resume is up to par is to seek out feedback from others. Here are two ways to do so:

Utilizing Veteran Services

There are many veteran services available that can help you with your resume. These services are often free and can provide you with valuable feedback and guidance. Some of the services available include:

  • Veterans Affairs (VA) Employment Assistance
  • Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS)
  • Military OneSource

These services can provide you with one-on-one assistance with your resume, as well as help you with job search strategies and interview preparation. Take advantage of these resources to help you stand out in the job market.

Seeking Professional Resume Review

If you prefer a more in-depth review of your resume, consider seeking out a professional resume writer or career coach. These professionals can provide you with personalized feedback and advice on how to improve your resume. Some tips they may provide include:

  • Tailoring your resume to the specific job you’re applying for
  • Highlighting your transferable skills and experiences
  • Using quantifiable achievements to showcase your accomplishments

While there may be a cost associated with these services, the investment can be worth it if it helps you land your dream job.

Final Preparations

Proofreading Your Resume

Before submitting your resume, it is crucial to proofread it thoroughly. Even a small typo or grammatical error can leave a negative impression on the employer.

Make sure to check for spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors. You can also ask a friend or family member to review your resume for any mistakes you might have missed.

Preparing for Job Interviews

Preparing for a job interview is just as important as creating a strong resume. Here are some additional tips to help you prepare for job interviews:

  • Practice your handshake and make eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Speak clearly and confidently, and avoid using slang or jargon.
  • Be prepared to discuss your military experience and how it relates to the job you are applying for.
  • Ask questions about the company and the position to show your interest and enthusiasm.

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