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Making the transition from the military to civilian career track can be incredibly difficult. Whether you’ve left voluntarily or have been dismissed it’s time to earn a living the civilian way. Although the prospect may be daunting, they’re two entirely different worlds. There are however, many transferable skills you can use from your military career and apply them to your new civilian endeavour.

If you’re new to the resume writing world and need a little guidance for constructing an effective CV tailored to a civilian career path then here are a few tips to build your confidence and get you started.

Know Your Ultimate Career Goal

Before you begin writing a resume you need to have a good idea of which industry or career path you’d like to enter. Writing a general CV can severely hinder your chances of getting a job in your preferred career track. Employers look for passion – what sets you apart as the ideal candidate for the role? Even if you don’t have the ideal qualification and experience within the field of the job you’ve applied for, your passion and dedication can really cause you to shine.

If you have two different ideal career paths then it may be best to create two separate CVs targeting those industries. This gives you a better chance of impressing your employers and showing dedication without excluding either industry – just make sure you send the correct resume to the intended employer! To make it easier for editing purposes you could just change the first paragraph

Career Goal Example

First resume: My ultimate career goal would be to work as a carer for the elderly. I feel I’d be an excellent, sensitive carer due to my previous military experience, in which I had to deal with vulnerable civilians from some of the most deprived countries in the world. This has taught me to help people from all different backgrounds, be sensitive towards others and put their health and safety first.

Second resume: In ten years’ time I can see myself being a retail manager. I believe I can strike the perfect balance between leading a team and being a team player myself. During my previous career in the military I had to head-up a team of soldiers; commanding respect, showing authority but also working with the team to achieve the desired results.

Use Your Military Experience to Impress

You can apply the skills you’ve acquired during your military career to demonstrate employable qualities. Military positions often involve many personal qualities, some of which aren’t all that different to skills asked for certain in civilian roles.

The ability to lead is a particularly sought after skill for managerial and supervisor roles; if you’ve ever had to head up a team then include details of this. Similarly, being a team player is another personal quality which is often acquired in the military and well received by employers too. Most importantly, know what skills and qualifications are considered a basic requirement for your chosen industry and transfer those from your military career to your new CV.

Experience Example

During my career doing military nursing I had to provide the correct treatment accurately and effectively. I think this would be an excellent transferable skill to take to a nursing career with me, particularly in intensive care or high dependency units.

Explain your Experience and Qualifications in Civilian Terms

Every industry has its own jargon, and military positions are no exception. But showering your CV with niche terms can be really off-putting to readers who may not understand their meaning. Seeing as the intended audience of your CV are potential employers and recruiters the last thing you want to do is bore them by overloading them with overly complicated information.

If you must use a niche term then fully explain what it means; if it helps imagine you’re explaining it to a child (without being patronising). Make sure you fully outline the duties of your previous role within the military as your job title alone won’t give employers a clear idea of exactly what you’ve been up to. Even slightly outlining the concept of your role rather than just listing your job title can help an employer understand your military career background.

Explanation Example

During my time in the military I worked within Field 25 Signals which is basically a division of the US army responsible for communications and data management between all the different divisions of the US army.

Related: 5 Skills Taught in Armed Forces to Help You Secure a Job.

Stephanie Staszko writes for military solicitors and legal specialists Gray and Co Solicitors.


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