Military to Civilian Resume Graphic representation

5 Steps to go from a Military to Civilian Resume

Going from military to civilian resume can be a difficult task. What skills do you put in your resume? How do you structure your resume? What do you say and what do you not say? Well, we made it easier for you! Here’s a quick guide to go from a military to a civilian resume.

1. Know What Personality You Bring to the Workforce

The first step to go from military to civilian resume is to know yourself. Don’t know how? You should start by doing a DISC assessment. Knowing your DISC is a big ‘competitive advantage’ in the workplace and as a job seeker. It allows you to position your strengths in a consciously-chosen career that requires those qualifications. Here are some websites that offer DISC assessments for FREE:

After you completed your assessment, it’s time to analyze it: get the results, understand what they mean, and make sure you know what you bring to the table. Tailoring your career choices and how you build your resume (based on your qualifications) will help you transition from military to civilian resume. 

2. Understand Your Skills and How to Transfer Them to the Civilian Workforce

Usually, your skills fall into 3 categories: transferable, soft, and hard skills. 

Transferable skills

By definition, transferable skills are those skills that move across sectors, industries and business activities. If you see it in all kinds of work-world settings, it’s a ‘transferable’ skill. The transferable skills you possess are the ones that apply equally well to your military role as in any civilian business position. Example: selling skills, analytical skills, project management skills, etc. 

Soft skills

Soft skills are your interpersonal abilities. Basically, it’s how (and how well) you communicate with and relate to other people of all hierarchy levels and backgrounds. These skills are also internal to you, i.e how (and how well) you organize your tasks and time and how calm or panicky you get when something new is thrown at you. Example: work ethic, positive attitude, communication skills, etc.

Hard skills

What are hard skills? Hard skills are the technical skills you possess, such as the ability to operate specific machinery or tools, perform some complex analysis in a medical lab, etc. Here are some other examples:

  • A school degree, a professional license or certification that you have earned, and training courses you have completed.
  • Your proficiency in certain types of software, programs, and technical duties.
  • How well or poor you speak certain languages.

Here are some examples of the combination of soft, hard, and transferable skills that will help you transfer from a military to civilian resume:

infographic that explains the type of skills that will help you go from military to civilian resume


3. The Structure of Your Resume

When transferring your military resume to a civilian one, you need to consider the types of resume you can utilize. Resumes usually fall into 3 types: Functional Resume, Chronological Resume, and Combination Resumes (Functional + Chronological).


picture of a Functional resume

Functional resumes focus on your skills and direct experiences, rather than on the chronological listing of jobs you’ve held. It’s typically used by those changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job sought (but the skills are there). Usually, this type of resume is structured in this format:

  • Contact information
  • Career summary
  • Relevant skills
  • Work History
  • Educational and Professional Training
  • Accolades & Awards

Chronological picture of a Chronological resume

Chronological resumes are perhaps the format that is most commonly seen by employers. It is an orderly job/fact-based summary (with full-time job positions usually listed one after another, newest to oldest). This format allows employers to quickly skim through and get a feel for your work experiences and qualifications. Usually, chronological resumes are structured like this:

  • Contact information
  • Career Summary
  • Work History
  • Education
  • Profession Training
  • Accolades & Awards

Combination picture of a Combination resume

Combination resumes are the third type you can choose. It’s also quite welcome by hiring managers. The main difference is that you place your job experience in a chronological order, but for each job, you insert the top or specific skills you deployed and the achievements or results you have attained. Combination resume sections may include:

  • Contact Information
  • Summary of Qualifications (Professional Profile)
  • Relevant Skills (Additional Skills)
  • Professional Experience
  • Education

VetCV offers a FREE resume builder in the Combination format. 

A résumé is, by definition, quick to read. That means you need:

  1.    Clear word choices
  2.    Clear layout for quick eye-scanning
  3.    Readable type fonts and sizes
  4.    Short and sweet explanations and descriptions
  5.    To touch on all the expected and essential points
  6. No military jargon unless it’s clearly understood in the industry/role
  7. No acronyms: spell it every time you want to use it

Do you want to know specifically what you need to put in each section? Here it is: 

4. Transfer Your Skills to Your Resume

Accomplishments & Achievements

We have looked at soft, hard and transferable skills. Next, to help you go from military to civilian résumé, you must think about your Accomplishments & AchievementsMany of your accomplishments on the job will be connected with some sort of metrics (numbers/data – anything measurable). These metrics play a huge role in your new civilian resume because they show you have achieved something of interest to an employer.

ProTip:  Remember this about employers:  They are in the business of making money.  They only hire people to help them make more money.  Saving money – and an employee who finds ways to save them money – is just as interesting to them.

So, you want to place a description that clearly shows how you helped the company decrease costs, increase profits, or achieve its goals. Make sure to use terms that will make it easier for the reader to notice your achievements and how it benefited the company. You can do it by using numbers, percentages, etc.


“Doubled traffic to our website, resulting in 20% more requests for additional information.  I did this in my job of __________ for _______ throughout 2017” (The ‘doubled’ and ‘20%’ were the measures of your improvements).

5. What NOT to Put in Your Resume

As you have seen, a resume presents workplace-related skills, accomplishments, education and training, and job history. Most other types of information will be excluded. Don’t include your political views or choices, your religious practices or choices, information about your family, personal social media details, etc. 

In summary, you need to understand your personalities & qualifications, have a strong understanding on what skills you can transfer from the military to the civilian workforce, create your resume in the right format, and make sure you don’t put certain things in your resume. You can also click here to use the FREE VetCV Military Resume Builder to help you structure your resume!


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