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Converting Your Military Resume for Civilian Life

December 05, 2016 - Posted to Job Interview

Content infographic military to civillian head

Upon discharge from military life there is so much that an ex-soldier must contend with. Change has always been a part of your military life; moving around the world, and assignments changing from one year to the next, but there was also stability in knowing that you had a steady pay coming in to help with family obligations

Now that you no longer are in the service, there are necessary changes that you must make to help with the transition into your new civilian lifestyle, and one of those changes is your resume. You now need to convert your military to civilian resume.

A military to civilian resume will be advantageous to your new civilian career because it takes what specialty you did in the service such as Medical Supply Officer and transfers it into jargon that civilian employers can understand.

Engage a Civilian Mentor

The first step on developing your military to civilian resume, is to have a civilian to go over your military skills list with you. Have them read it and point out to you what they do not understand. Some military to civilian resume example translations may look like the following:

  1. Extensive repetitive practice while mastering specific tasks

Would be- perseverance

  1. Around the clock work with peers

Would be- Collaboration and collective team building skills

  1. Cooperating with various alliances around the globe

Would be-Relational Skills

  1. Engaging with peers to take actions without considering results

Would be- Deciding to execute plans/decision making

  1. Taking initiative to change, or consider other options when one plan does not work.

Would be- Critical thinking skills

Your resume mentor, whether it is someone you know or a professional online resume writer, will also be able to translate your military experience and skills to help match you up with civilian jobs that you are suited for. Some military to civilian resume conversion jobs may look like this:

  1. Public Service/Civil Service workers

Many ex-military men and women get preference in these types of jobs.

  1. Education: Math and Science

Take your skills to the classroom to encourage young people and keeping order. Impart pride in youth.

  1. Computer Science/IT

After working with some of the most advanced technology around the world, your skills are needed.

  1. Self-Employment

You are disciplined enough to start your own company, and collaborate with others on how to launch a business.

  1. Policeman/ Security

If you think you want to continue your military type lifestyle without all the moving around, this may be for you.

Professional resume writers will convert military experience to civilian resume experience and present it either in a CV type or skill set military type document. They will be able to effectively integrate the right keywords into your document to get you to the interview process.

You do not want to send your military resume to get civilian employment. Not many of those who hire will know what to look for, or know from your military record what you will be able to offer their company. Their tracking software may not be programmed to convert military experience to civilian resume experience.

Many companies have computer scanning machines in place that are looking for specifics on each resume that comes into their systems. This saves the company time and money. So, if the right keywords are not filtered through the system that are included in the job post, your resume may never have been seen.

Other Hiring Factors to Consider

Sometimes service men and women come home with a disability, and they ask if they should list that they are disabled. Although you must divulge this information eventually, it is not necessary to put it on your resume, and we suggest that you do not provide this information when you convert military experience to civilian resume documents.

Another change to consider, is wearing of your uniform. Although you are hailed heroes, the uniform is no longer needed in secular work, and you do not want the fact that you were in the service to cloud the interviewer’s judgement. There are those that will judge you prematurely for being an enlisted person. Some may judge that if you are enlisted you may be:

  • Too rigid in your thinking ability/ looking for orders instead of making decisions on your own
  • Suffering from PTSD
  • Over or underqualified and only getting preference for the position because of military duty

It may not be fair for others to judge you in this way but it happens. To avoid this, just wear civilian clothing to your interview.

Before the Interview

Now that you have the conversion of your military to civilian resume developed, you are ready to prepare for the interview.

An interview is a two-way conversation, and to relieve the stress and anxiety levels of sitting with a perfect stranger who may ask questions that you are not ready for, prepare beforehand.

The employer is interested in what they see on paper, now they want the opportunity to meet with you in person to learn more about you. However, this is also a time for you to learn more about their company.

The following tips can help fray some of the stress, and have you ready to face the interviewer with confidence:

  1. Google them. Find out what this company is about. The Internet will probably have mounds of information on the company, and we suggest you become affiliated with LinkedIn so that you can get information from those that have worked for the company. Many of them are listed there.
  2. Go over your resume and make sure that you are ready to discuss everything that is listed on it. You do not know which questions that the interviewer will ask you. And be prepared to discuss all your successes. Never say you don’t know something, say you are willing to learn what is necessary to move their company forward.
  3. Practice Interviews. This should be done with someone that you know who is already in business preferably someone that works in HR. This is a serious part of your job search. You want to do this with someone who is going to be taking it serious and asking you questions that an interviewer would ask.
  4. Get your references ready. You have personal and professional contacts that are willing to write letters of recommendation for you. Get in touch with them now and get those letters in your hands. Tell them to please do not forget to date and sign with their contact information. Bring these copies to your interviews, even if you sent them with your resume, bring extra copies so that the interviewer can have them handy when you depart.
  5. Practice your communication style. During your time in the military you may have been used to a more formal communication style, but now it is time to relax the rigidity that can come from the military style of speaking to one another, to a more informal style of conversation. This is going to take time and patience on your part.
  6. Keep in mind that at the end of all interviews the question is asked, “Do you have any questions?” Never leave an interview saying “no”. Have in mind a couple of questions for the interviewer about the company. This is sure to impress upon them that you took the time to consider their background.

During the Interview

Once you get an interview, if you had not had your military resume converted to your civilian resume before you were invited to the interview, be sure that it is with you when you show up, and leave a couple of copies at the company.

The interview is based on what you can bring to the company. It is a whole different world than the military way of doing things. In the service, you were promoted based on moving up in rank, now you have to show what you can do to make a company thrive in order to move up in the business.

The interviewer will be listening to you intently but also watching your body language. Here are some suggestions to smooth this process over:

  • Be on time. As a matter of fact, be early, at least 15 minutes. If something happens to keep you from showing up on time, call and reschedule, or say you are stuck in traffic if that is the case and you are on your way. Never leave the interviewer waiting without a valid excuse.
  • No cell phones or other technology on.
  • Smile and introduce yourself with a firm shake of the hand.
  • Keep your military good posture, this comes in handy, but sit in a comfortable position.
  • Glance around their office slightly and compliment something in the room.
  • Make eye contact always, listening closely to what the interviewer says.
  • Be mindful of your nervous tics, like touching your hair, tapping your legs, twirling your hair or fingers.
  • Words such as “um” and “like” should be avoided as filler words for your interviewer. Talk slowly but not too slow, so you can keep your thought processes intact.
  • Do not bring up bad experiences on other jobs or talk down about your past supervising officers.
  • Try not to talk about bad experiences in the service, especially if you were not asked about them. This may seem to be a sign of PTSD.
  • Don’t forget to ask questions that may concern you about the position, pay, location, benefits package, etc.

Getting the Job

Congratulations, you have landed the job. Now that you are hired, you must do the best job possible to maintain your position. You are now in a transition from military to civilian life in the secular world. Just remember:

  • The communication style is different.
  • Collaboration is key in may secular businesses, instead of direct orders like in the military. Be patient with this transition and learn to work with others with a positive mindset. You must now make the adjustment.
  • Welcome Flexibility. You can go home after your hard day’s work and enjoy your life. Good luck!

You are Not Alone

After coming home after being deployed into some of the most dangerous places on earth, you may feel like finding a job is an additional hardship that you just did not think you had to worry about. You are not alone. There are resources to help you gain employment in the secular world.

Converting your military resume to civilian lingo may be one of the top priorities that you need to handle, but there are other aspects of your change into civilian life that can be handled by enlisting the help of the following sites that reach out to those that feel that they need additional help: