Resume Writing After 20 Years of Military Service

Retired Military resume

For the past 20 years or more, you worked with a team to accomplish the mission of your respective military branch, be it Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. Now it’s time to apply your mission focused mindset to a career of your own as you enter the civilian world. You may ask, “How do I go about finding a job? And, how do I write a resume?” As a veteran, writing a military to civilian resume is the first step in securing your dream career outside of the military. Today, Empire Resume is here to show you how resume writing is done.

The Act of Job Searching Has Changed

The job searching landscape has changed significantly over the last two decades. Remember how we would look in the classifieds section of the newspaper for jobs? We’d take our pen and circle each job that we wanted and send our resume in the mail. Or, we would walk into the establishment with an employment vacancy and fill out an application on site. This is no longer the norm.

Every aspect of the job search process is performed entirely over the internet, in job boards and professional social media networking sites such as LinkedIn.

Manage Your Online Reputation

Because the internet has taken over our lives in such a way that we post, tweet, and share almost every aspect of our existence, it’s easier for a potential employer to search and locate information about you.

A simple internet search of your name will verify key information that the hiring manager will use to verify details and determine whether you are a potential candidate. For this reason, it is important to monitor your social activity and manage your online reputation to maintain a positive personal image during your job search.

Resume Writing Is Completely Different

Retired Military resume

Resume writing has evolved as well. Just over the past 5 years, resume writing has changed. For example, the resumes of today do not begin with an objective. You remember the objective, right? The objective is a short statement of goals that reads, “To obtain a position where my skills and talents can benefit the company.”

Objectives have now been replaced with summaries that provide a bird’s-eye view of who you are as a professional, your skills, your value, and what you can offer a company. The summary is the sum of your strengths and how they meet the company’s needs.

Since you may not have written a resume in a while, let’s review some of the primary changes that you should be aware of to create a modern resume. It is important to note that you will not just write any modern resume. You’ll write a unique military to civilian resume because military resumes are different. Some of the changes that have taken place when it comes to resume writing includes:

  • Highlight achievements instead of responsibilities

Merely listing job responsibilities is a thing of the past. Achievements is what potential employers want to see on today’s resume.

Your achievements set you apart from the competition within the job market. They show how you make an impact rather than just listing what you were responsible for doing.

Including achievements within your resume is a must. Read our article on how to include achievements in your resume for more help with this task.

  • More keywords and phrases, less action words

Resumes were once filled with action words such as helped, solved, or created. Today you can optimize your resume by including relevant key words and phrases.

The keywords and phrases you use will allow the applicant tracking systems (ATS) to read your resume, and then rank and score your qualifications verses the job descriptions.

An applicant tracking system or ATS is a software system or an application that companies use to sort through resumes. Review our article on understanding applicant tracking systems for more information.

  • Formats

Resume formats have also changed over time. The formats are different in terms of style. Bullet points, columns, lines, and a splash of color are all acceptable aspects of the modern resume.

Because of the changes, no one resume is the same. The format of your resume alone will help to make you stand out in the eyes of a recruiter or a hiring manager.

For a veteran job finder, the resume writing process can be overwhelming at first. But once you’ve written your first resume or reached out for a helping hand from a certified resume writer, the ins and outs of resume writing becomes easier.

Below are some do’s and don’ts for the modern resume.

Do’s and Don’ts for Today’s Resumes

I recommend that you write a 2-page resume that clearly showcases your value coupled with a professional LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that we will discuss in the next section of this article.

If you’d like to find out more about creating a LinkedIn, we have an article titled, creating a veteran LinkedIn on our military blog.

Below are some do’s and don’ts for today’s resumes:

  • Do translate your military experience into language that civilians will understand
  • Don’t include more than 10 to 15 years of experience
  • Do include a great resume summary
  • Don’t include personal data such as your entire address, age, salary, etc.
  • Do use the chronological resume format
  • Don’t list your salary or previous supervisor name
  • Do make your resume two pages or less
  • Don’t overcrowd the resume or use fancy graphics
  • Do include your LinkedIn profile
  • Don’t include your picture on your resume

Avoid Age Discrimination

Any experience beyond 15 years puts you at risk of age discrimination. If necessary, one way to include your extensive experience that spans more than 10 to 15 years is by adding a section titled “Additional Experience” and including the job titles and companies without the dates.

Now that you have some information on creating a resume, please review our article and video revealing 5 key elements of a great resume. Below, we will show you the best strategies to apply for jobs today.

The Best Strategies to Apply for Jobs Today

Retired Military resume

As mentioned previously, every job will require an online application. It’s easy to become quickly frustrated with the process and the duplication in information that each application asks for while submitting your resume.

The best strategy when applying for jobs is patience. Understand that applying for jobs online takes time, while some can take up to 30 minutes or more. Now, let’s walk through the best practices for applying for jobs today.

  • Internet Access and a Professional Email Address is a Must

Internet access or a Wi-Fi connection is a must when applying for jobs today. Some software applications will even allow you to apply for jobs using your smartphone.

Your professional email address should be simple. First name and last name is ideal. You should avoid using the year you were born within your email address to prevent age discrimination.

There are several free resources to create an email address. To start, Google offers a popular email service known as Gmail.

  • Your Military to Civilian Resume and Cover Letter is Essential

Your military to civilian resume  should be in PDF or Word format, no more than 2 pages, and offer specific details of your work history for the last 10 to 15 years.

Remember to highlight your achievements as they set you apart from your competitors.

The cover letter should be tailored to the employer and is a quick way to introduce yourself to a potential employer. It provides a few concise points from your resume. Your cover letter and resume work hand in hand to get you noticed within the job market.

A recent study concluded that 40% of hiring managers said they’re more likely to pay attention to job applications that include cover letters.

Your cover letter should be brief and avoid industry jargon. Most importantly, the cover letter should be tailored to the position and addressed to a person. The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is a no go today.

  • Online Employment Websites and Professional Social Networking

There are several online employment websites that you can use to apply for today’s jobs. We’ve listed 10 online employment sites that will allow you to complete your application and submit your military to civilian resume and cover letter on site. These sites include:

For more information on online job sites, check out this article from Hiring America on the 12 great online resources for veterans looking for jobs.

  • Reach out to Helpful Resources

As a veteran coming out of the military after 20 years of service or more, everything is new to you and possibly overwhelming. This is why there are resources in place to help you.

The first step is reaching out and asking for help when you need it. The below resources are readily available to help you with career counseling and with preparing your resume and cover letter.

Some of our favorite career-based resources for veterans include the following:

Your 20 years of experience makes you a great asset to any company. It’s important to showcase your experience properly and in a way that gives you leverage. Civilian employers value experience and someone with longevity.

With your experience and some help from the resources throughout this article, you’ll be applying that 20 years’ worth of military knowledge to a new company and a new mission in no time.

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.

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