What Information Should I Include from My Performance Evaluations in My Civilian Resume?
Train, serve, relocate – this is the cycle of life in the military. Eventually, the cycle comes to an end as everyone, at some time or another, separates from the military and takes the necessary steps to transition into civilian life. One of the primary steps in transitioning into civilian life is securing a civilian job, which means building a military to civilian resume.
Although searching for a job outside of the military can be frightening and stressful, keep in mind that the skills, experience, and the professional military education you developed throughout your tenure in the military is extremely valuable in today’s job market. Your experience is what makes you unique and your civilian resume should explain why.
See, your civilian resume’s job is to get your foot in the door. Your civilian resume is a part of telling your story — who you are, what you did, when and where you did it, and finally, it showcases your achievements. With help from your performance evaluation, you can create a resume that will position you to be a marketable candidate in today’s workforce.
The Performance Evaluation is the Link to Building a Civilian Resume
As a military member or veteran, you may be unaware of the fact that your performance evaluation is one of the greatest tools in transferring your military accomplishments and highlights into a civilian resume. Transferring your military experience into terms and phrases that civilians will understand is important because a civilian employer or hiring representative simply cannot decipher the information included in your performance evaluation.
For example, if you tell the hiring manager, “My MOS in the Army was a 31 Bravo or 31B,” the employer wouldn’t be able to relate. However, if you say, “I was a police officer or in law enforcement in the Army,” it’s much easier to understand, which is why translation is necessary.
Translation is Key
To translate your MOS, visit the Military Connection’s Military to Civilian Occupation Translator. After translating your MOS, it’s important to keep these basics in mind while preparing your civilian resume:
- Explain terms and phrases (Use supervisor instead of NCOIC)
- Use active language (Instead of responsible for managing, say managed…)
- Use words to show the job or industry you’re seeking work in (Finance clerk)
- Focus on results (numbers, for example)
- Be specific and get to the point (use short paragraphs or bullet points)
Unless the employer’s hiring representative has a military background, he or she is likely unable to understand your military occupation, duties, competencies, and performances due to the military jargon and acronyms. Honestly, even members in different branches of the military struggle to understand each other’s languages.
To increase your chances of snagging an interview, the best thing you can do is make your civilian resume relatable and easy to understand. Make your resume speak to your potential employer’s hiring representative. Take a walk with us as we explore the information you can use from your performance evaluations to get your civilian resume squared away.
Air Force Performance Evaluations
If you’re an Air Force Veteran or recently separated Airman, you know that your performance evaluations contain awesome information that can be used for your civilian resume, you just don’t know where to begin. Let’s see what can be used to build a civilian resume from the EPR and OPR.
Enlisted Performance Report (EPR)
Review your enlisted performance form for key information to include in your civilian resume. Below is what you want to include:
- Section I. Identifying Data. Your name and location. Everything else in this section is irrelevant to your civilian resume.
- Section II. Job Description. Section II is an overview of your job description. Translate your duty title, your responsibilities, and craft a description of your duties to highlight the type of work you performed. You can use bullet points or short paragraphs for your job description. For example, if you’re a personnel specialist, your job description should look something like this:
Human Resources Manager – Keesler Air Force Base, MS (2013-Present)
Performed administrative duties such as maintaining records to ensure compliance with Air Force processes and procedures.
If you held multiple positions within a certain timeframe, be sure to separate each job title and description. Always be sure to follow-up with the date you were in each position.
- Section III. Performance. This section is an overview of your performance in your primary duties and discusses how well you interact with others. It also reveals your communication skills, integrity, and your ability to professionally foster positive working environments. Take the comments or bullet statements in your evaluation and change the language to speak to your potential civilian employer.
Officer Performance Report (OPR)
If you were an officer in the Air Force, in addition to job title and performance, you want to place emphasis on your leadership skills such as supervision, management and morale or team building. Here are the sections you should include in your civilian resume:
- Section I. Identification Data. Your name and location only. Everything else in this section is irrelevant to your civilian resume.
- Section II. Job Description. Section II is an overview of your job description. Translate your duty title and your responsibilities for your resume. Also include a description of each duty to highlight the type of work you performed. You can use bullet points or short paragraphs for your job description.
- Sections III and IX. Performance Factors. This section is an overview of your performance in your primary duties and discusses how well you interact with others. It also shows your communication skills, integrity, and your ability to professionally foster positive working environments.
Be sure to list these on your civilian resume if you meet the standards. Expand upon the rater’s assessments and remarks if they are in alignment with the job and if they reflect your most favorable qualities.
If you obtained an advanced degree or certification such as a master’s or Six Sigma Certification, these accomplishments should be well noted on your civilian resume. Why? Because if you’re seeking a project manager position, certifications such as these will place you above other candidates.
Army Performance Evaluations
If you’re an Army Veteran or recently separated soldier, your performance evaluations hold key information that can be used for your civilian resume. While the Soldier for Life Program can help Army Veterans and those approaching separation from the Army, the program often misses the mark in assisting soldiers with creating civilian resumes. Let’s discover the information that can be used to craft a resume for the civilian workforce for Army officers.
Officer Evaluations Report (OER)
For Army veteran officers and separated members, your leadership skills and the way you operate are crucial aspects of your OER. Here’s what you need to include in your civilian resume:
- Part I. Administrative. Your name, location, and dates the report covers for your respective duty title. Everything else in this section is irrelevant to your civilian resume.
- Part III. Job Description. Part III contains your job title and an overview of your job description. Include and translate your duty title, your significant duties and responsibilities to highlight the work you performed. You can also use bullet points or short paragraphs for your job description. For example, if you were a platoon leader, simply say you were an organizational manager.
- Part IV. Performance Evaluation. Use the areas of your core competencies that you excelled in to show your leadership skills, character and results you achieved. Results usually come in the form of numbers. Numbers are key because they show tangible or actual results. For example, “Saved the team $50K by identifying inventory discrepancies.” This shows a potential employer that you can help them save them money.
According to the Military Officer’s Association of America, results aren’t about how you singlehandedly solved world hunger. Results are examples that illustrate how you used your skills in performing duties to allow your potential employer to see how your talents and abilities align with the company’s needs.
As an officer, you may have not realized that overtime, you gained skills often referred to as soft skills. Yes, technical skills matter, but soft skills is what will land you the job you want. These can be found in your OER under Part IV as well. According to Military.com, soft skills include:
- Communication Skills
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Problem Solving
- Conflict Resolution
Navy Performance Evaluations
Much like every other military branch, the Navy’s performance evaluations are twofold. There’s the Evaluation Report and Counseling Record for enlisted sailors and the Fitness Reports or FITREPS for officers.
If you were enlisted in the Navy, you specifically want to focus on the comments on performance and achievements in your Evaluation Report & Counseling Record. These key areas will give you the information you need to build your civilian resume:
- Your Name.
- Your Ship/Station (List the location only).
- Command employment and command achievements.
- Primary/Collateral/Watchstanding duties.
- Comments on Performance
Be sure to expand on and translate your job duties and comments. Use them only if they are a fit for the job you’re seeking. If you meet certain standards in your report, include these in your civilian resume. Use the primary/collateral/watchstanding duties
Fitness Reports (FITREPS)
The fitness report is the evaluation form used to show performance of Navy officers. Let’s explore each section that should be included in your civilian resume:
- Your Name.
- Command (List the location only).
- Period of Report (This indicates the month and year you held the job)
- Command employment and achievements.
- Primary/Additional Duties Assigned.
- Comments (If they are relevant)
You also want to build upon your professional performance traits, especially if they meet or exceed the Navy’s standards. For example, communication and organizational skills are needed in the workforce today.
Marine Performance Evaluations
Much like the Navy, as a Marine Veteran or newly separated Marine, depending upon your rank, you will either have a Proficiency and Conduct mark (Pros/Cons for junior Marines) or you will have a fitness report known as FITREPs (for Marine officers). For purposes of this article, we will focus on FITREPs.
Fitness Reports (FITREPS)
Your USMC Fitness Report contains useful information that will transfer well onto your civilian resume. For example, you can take the duty assignment and translate it into a job title.
Use the Billet Descriptions and Accomplishments and turn them into job descriptions and show what you achieved, as these sections contain key action words and language that will transfer well onto your civilian resume.
For your civilian resume, you want to focus on your leadership skills and abilities. Use the following sections from your fitness report:
- Part A. Administrative. Your name, location, duty assignment (job title) and dates the report covers for your respective duty assignment. Everything else in this section is irrelevant to your civilian resume.
- Part B-C. Billet Description and Accomplishments. Your billet descriptions and accomplishments go into detail regarding your performance. These are factual descriptions of your abilities, skills and abilities to perform well. These can be used in conjunction with your job description.
- Part D-K Mission Accomplishment, Character, Leadership. Use these sections to list the results you achieved during your military career. If your knowledge and skills make you an expert in your field, be sure to highlight this.
If your leadership skills meet the standards of the Navy and are reflective of the job you’re looking to obtain, make sure this is noted on your civilian resume. And if your reviewing officer made some positive comments that may enhance your resume, you should consider it as well.
Important Items to Note Outside of Your Performance Evaluations
While these tidbits of information may not be noted within your performance evaluation, if you obtained education and certificates, it is important to note these on your civilian resume, specifically if they are directly related to the job you’re seeking.
Try the below example for your education:
Airman Leadership School, Eglin Air Force Base, FL, 2013
6-weeks of leadership training consisting of 192 hours of classroom instruction in leadership, management and communication skills.
Information that describes your technical proficiency is important to potential employers as well. So are security clearances. Security clearances usually transfer over well for government related jobs or for companies that are government contractors. Just make sure that the information you include in your civilian resume correlates to the job you are seeking.
In addition to your performance evaluations, you should look to other sources such as your military brag sheet or DD-214 to craft an outstanding military to civilian resume. And finally, don’t forget to include your awards. We know that in the military they may come in the form of medals. Don’t make the mistake of merely listing the name of the medal. Take some time to explain the reason why you received the medal.
Please recognize that once you’ve completed your resume, the work has just begun. Your civilian resume is a living, breathing document. It is a work and progress and must be updated consistently as you submit your resume for various job positions and industries, including when you change jobs.
For more help with translating your military experience to a civilian resume, check out our Military to Civilian Resume Translator.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.