4 resume writing tips for those leaving the military and entering the civilian work force

Tips for Translating Military Jobs into Civilian Language

4 Resume Writing Tips for Translating Military Skills to Civilian Resume Language – Resume Help to Those Leaving the Military and Entering the Civilian Workforce:

1. Translate military job titles into civilian job titles.

Resumes for military members transitioning to the civilian work forceAs a member of the U.S. military, you have done outstanding work, often risking everything to serve and protect our country. As you prepare to transition to the civilian workforce, it’s important that your resume be written using language that minimizes the use of military jargon. Job titles used in the military need to be translated into civilian job titles. Here are some examples:

-Field Grade Officer changes to Program Director or Program Manager

-Platoon Sergeant changes to Supervisor or Foreman

-Lt. Colonel changes to Executive Vice President

-Squad Leader changes to First Line Supervisor

O*Net Online is a great online tool for translating military job titles into civilian job titles. Enter a military job title in the Occupation Quick Search tool in the upper right hand corner to get started.

2. Be sure to define all acronyms.

By define, I mean spelling the word or phrase out completely. The resume questionnaires I receive from clients serving in the military include many acronyms that the civilian reader doesn’t understand. The last thing you want is a resume that confuses the reader. Here’s a handy online tool for military acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations.

3. Obtain a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training Document.

The military provides many resources for veterans in transition, and the VMET is one of these. Because the VMET lists your military job experience and training history, it can be an invaluable tool when composing your resume – especially if you’ve had several jobs in the military.

4. De-militarize your resume.

Here’s a great online resource explaining how to translate military experience into civilian terms. It states:

Translating your military training and experience into civilian language can be a challenge, but is an important step to take when applying for and interviewing with an employer in the civilian workforce. Remember, less than one percent (<1%) of the population is currently serving – or has served since 9/11/01 – so the more you can help an employer better understand your skills and qualifications, the more likely your resume will get seen by the right people.

When writing resumes for clients in the military, I ask that they inventory their core skills and areas of expertise on my resume questionnaire. I then take this information and translate it into marketable skills for the civilian workforce.


Make an investment in your future with a resume / CV and cover letter written by Vivian Adkins, CPRW of Foremost Resumes. Foremost Resumes offers affordable resume writing services – resume prices are published here. If you have any questions about my resume services, call or text 1-321-442-7994.

Resume writing services include:

-Executive Resume Package
-Professional Resume Package
-Entry Level Resume Package for Graduates
-Military Resume Package
(LinkedIn Profile Improvement Add-On Service available for all resume writing packages)

If you found this post helpful, I’d be grateful if you would help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.

Thank you!

—Vivian Adkins, Resume Writer at Foremost Resumes

About Author

Vivian Adkins, CPRW
Vivian Adkins, CPRW is the owner of Foremost Résumés and a Certified Résumé Writer. On this blog you can learn about résumés, how LinkedIn can help with your job search, how to conduct an online job search, and more.
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