Office of Career Services
Veterans' Career Services
When transitioning from the military to a civilian career, you will find many options open to you. Searching for a job that is a good "career fit'' and utilizes your transferable skills (and conforms to your separation date) can be at times difficult ... but it can also be challenging and exciting. It is important to begin this process as early as possible because the important decisions that you make when departing the service will impact your financial future and your ability to live the lifestyle that you and your family want.
Military to Civilian Transition - Provides a step-by-step guide on transitioning from military to civilian workforce.
The Riley Guide for U.S. Vets - Job-search advice, Wounded Warrior program information, salary & financial information, employment rights & assistance, information for activated reservists & reassigned military personnel, education & training support.
Although military experience may seem far removed from work in the private sector, there are numerous transferable skills. The below tips and characteristics can be exhibited in a special "Skills" section with appropriate examples from your military experience.
Use Plain English
Write your resume as though you are submitting it for review by someone who has no technical understanding of the kind of work done in your previous positions. Imagine that you are explaining what you have done and the skills you have accumulated to a non-military friend. This can help when turning your military resume into a resume that can land you a quality civilian job.
Minimize the Use of Acronyms
If you must use them, briefly explain what they represent, what processes or systems they describe, and how you have used the knowledge, skills or abilities associated with them.
Translating Military Jargon
- Ability to take direction - This is especially important if you’re entering the private sector for the very first time. You must be able to listen carefully and follow all the policies of the company. Providing a list of successfully completed activities that were under the direction of a superior officer provides ample evidence.
- Leadership - The ability to direct and inspire staff is as critical in the private sector as it is in the military. You should note exact numbers of staff members who were under your authority and describe any improvements made in productivity. Promotions or awards for leadership, especially if they were frequent, should be mentioned in the opening summary. This shows that you have the ability to take on additional responsibilities, can delegate authority, and can be trusted to get the job done.
- Punctuality - Military operations have timetables that can be showcased in a private sector resume to indicate outstanding time-management skills. Provide beginning and ending dates of the operation, the challenges faced to meet that deadline and the action taken for on-time (or early) completion.
- Teamwork - All hiring managers want employees who work well with others. Since military operations rely on the group, you can easily emphasize that you worked in cooperation with your peers.
- Transferable skills - Many occupational skills learned in the military are of use in the civilian world. For example: nursing and healthcare, mechanics, computer programming, and police and security work. When a military job is similar to a civilian position, it's important to stress similar experiences that will convince the hiring manager that you know what to expect and how to successfully complete the job.
- Security clearance - Holding high-level security clearance while in the military should certainly be showcased in the Qualifications Summary, as it indicates trustworthiness and integrity.
- Awards, commendations and medals - Outstanding service that was recognized by the military should always be listed, because hiring managers often consider past accomplishments highly indicative of future excellence.
ONET Skills Translator - Translate military occupational codes to civilian skills.
10 Reasons to Hire Vets - Here are 10 good reasons to hire a vet. Use these ideas to sell yourself to an employer in a cover letter or in a job interview.
Veteran Job Board - In partnership with Monster.com, veterans, active duty, guard and reserve can search for thousands of jobs for veterans from employers who value military experience. Plus a special section for security clearance jobs.
The Federal Government Job Resources
- Veterans Employment and Tranining Service of the U.S. Dept of Labor
- Mastering the Federal Application Process.pdf
- Jobs in Federal Service Workshop.pdf
Career Placement Resources