Resume Tips for Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Careers

We understand that as a veteran, there are a number of skills that you can bring to an organization, but it may be difficult to translate those specific skills into civilian jargon for job searches/resumes.

It's important to us to help members of the military transition to a civilian career. You can use these resume tips for veterans to ensure you're making a strong impression.

Resume Tips for Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Careers

A common issue with veterans' resumes is that the veteran has been trained to think of "self" last, that the team and mission are all that are important. These are excellent values and an ethos that is to be commended. But you must promote yourself and your skills when applying for a job outside of the military, being sure to include your contributions and experience. You must do this even if it feels self-serving.

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Resume Formatting Basics

  • Never go below 11-point font
  • Do not exceed three pages (one or two pages is preferred)
  • Use bullet points vs. paragraph formats
  • Be concise and convincing from start to finish. The average recruiter/manager will take no more than 20 seconds to read a resume
  • If using bullet points (recommended), make sure you're consistent with using a period (or not)
  • Spell check
  • Proofread, then ask a couple of other people to proofread for content and for grammar

Fundamental Components Every Resume Should Include

  • Specific dates of employment and job transition
  • Correct job titles
  • Summary of qualifications
  • Clearance information
  • Statements describing your most recent job and prior jobs (include as many as appropriate)
  • Specific results and benefits that support your activities and accomplishments
  • If you are willing to relocate, indicate so near the bottom of the page

Describing Your Work Experience

Your resume is going to be reviewed by non-military tech/business/logistics professionals first, so when you describe your work experience, you should identify yourself as a veteran early in your resume and go into detail about the following:

  • What tools you used and how many people you supervised
  • How much money you managed, saved or generated (in dollars and/or in %)
  • If you have led any teams (including the ranks of those led, general objective, success statistics, etc.)
  • Your current/most recent cumulative GPA, if you are an active student/recent graduate

Avoid indicating one specific job in the objective, as we hope to use your skills on multiple projects.

Create a "Skills Summary" or "Qualifications and Highlights" Section

In this section, promote your qualifications and unique talents. Focus on how you can add value to the organization. Use bullet points and indicate quantitative and qualitative data — don't just say "automation" or "operations." Instead, describe your complete experience.

Examples:

  • "In total, have tracked, maintained, repaired and been accountable for $5.8 million worth of government aviation property."
  • "Have guided, trained and assisted over 300 U.S. Naval officers in the execution of various aircraft maintenance duties and flight schedules."

Translate Your Experience Into Terms a Non-Military Reader Will Understand

If you can find the civilian equivalent to your job, make sure you put that beside each job title.

Examples:

  • Tool Shop Supervisor (Logistics Branch Manager)
  • VAW-123, Aviation Maintenance/Production Chief — (Tool Shop Supervisor/Logistics Branch Manager) — directly supervised 48 people

Consider Organizing Your Resume by Specialty vs. Location

If you have had multiple duty stations performing similar duties, consider a functional resume that groups your work experience by specialty vs. location.

Example: Aviation Mechanical

Highlights/Experience
Did this while supervising this many people
Did this while using this tool to more efficiently do that
Saved the Navy this much money by doing this

Example: Logistics

Highlights/Experience
Did this while supervising this many people
Did this while using this tool to more efficiently do that
Saved the Army this much money by doing this

At Northrop Grumman, 20% of our employees are veterans, with another 1,600 reservists on our team.

 

Additional Resources

Military Transition Guide

Job Search and Strategies for Veterans

Networking Strategies

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