Military to Civilian Resume Translator
Translate Military Experience to Civilian Resume
When you are a veteran transitioning back into the civilian workforce, effectively translating resume experience and accomplishments to civilian terminology is one of the most important tasks you will have.
However, there is more to it than simply rewording past experience. It does need to be in an easily readable and digestible format for potential recruiters and human resources staff, but you should be prepared to consider and think critically about the following:
- Your desired career path, career ambitions
- Your experiences outside of the military
- Opportunities to demonstrate experience overlap from your military experience to your desired civilian career
Although not comprehensive, throughout this article, we provide simple approaches that can help you get started.
5-Step Approach to Start Translating Experience:
- Finalize your military resume; this will serve as your starting point
- List all of your experiences (in a resume format), outside of the military
- Career research; outline 3-5 desired careers and locate corresponding job descriptions
- Review; read desired career job descriptions, highlight any overlap in job experience
- Create a list; with your highlighted experiences as a starting point, start your list of relevant job experience
Now you practice translating; by this point, you should have an idea of keywords, terminology, and phrasing for your desired jobs. Here are 2 examples to help jump-start your experience translating process:
Military: Led 12-person combat team through 4 successful missions
Civilian: Managed 12-person team in a fast-paced environment while meeting all organizational goals
Military: Led training for junior engineers in safe explosive disarmament practices.
Civilian: Led teams of junior practitioners through rigorous and detailed engagements that developed critical thinking skills.
For further examples and tips, RealWarriors.net, a site full of resources for veterans, provides additional information.
Translate Military Skills to Civilian Resume
Skills acquired in the military can be some of the best skills for a resume. Military skills imply a thoroughness. By being acquired in the military, they carry validation that the skills are accurate and useful.
The trick is making sure the message is conveyed to the recruiter reading the resume. Most professionals recommend avoiding specific combat details, and instead emphasizing the skills that were in place to achieve positive outcomes.
Our approach below is the same, the big difference is understanding how skills are used and phrased for a resume.
3-Step Approach to Start Translating Skills:
- Reacquaint yourself with resume skills including; soft skills (mentoring, coaching, communicating), technical skills (software, math), licenses, certifications
- Compile your list of skills
- Compare your list of skills to your list of prospective career job descriptions
Once you have a list of your skills and a list of skills from job descriptions, you can begin to translate or emphasize skills that are desired.
Tools to get you going:
- Military Skills Translator: From Miltary.com, this tool lets you put in your service and job title and locate jobs. The jobs will contain skills and requirements that you can reference when compiling your skills.
- O*Net Online – Military Crosswalk Search: Similar to Military.com, O*Net Online’s crosswalk search lets you enter service and jobs and locate jobs with skills listed.
Translate Military Achievements to Civilian Resume
With experience and skills detailed, you will now want to detail what you have accomplished. Don’t sell yourself short. As a veteran, you most likely have a great list of accomplishments in an environment that employers revere.
When identifying and building your list of accomplishments, they will need to tell how you created value. In our post, How to Include Achievements in Your Resume, we outline questions to ask to help do this. Here are a few examples:
- Did you increase efficiency? How much?
- Have you negotiated with vendors? How did it benefit the department/company?
- Did you successfully lead a project? How did it benefit the department/company?
- Have you consistently met/exceeded a target?
- Did you receive any awards for outstanding performance?
Once you have read the post and considered how to write an achievement or accomplishment, try the approach below.
3-Step Approach to Start Translating Achievements:
- Review performance evaluations; go through your last 10 performance evaluations and include your most valuable achievements that are directly related to the civilian role you’re seeking
- Compile your list of achievements
- Identify the most valuable or applicable skills for the job. For example, you may be seeking a civilian training role and have this listed on your performance evaluation, “established a tracking system for Brigade Training in order to ensure all soldiers were up to date on all required training.” You can make this civilian friendly by saying “developed a tracking system that accurately monitored all personnel training in the department.”
If you’re not seeking a specific civilian role, be sure to still include your main achievements that your performance reports listed. Anything you’ve done to save money, increase efficiency, or if you received a major award/recognition should be highlighted on your resume to clearly showcase your value to civilian recruiters.
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 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.
Is your resume civilian friendly? Find out with our free resume review!