How To Write a Military to Civilian Resume (With Example)

Updated July 14, 2023

The image shows an army vet in civilian clothes holding a cup of coffee and talking to someone with a clipboard.

Having a strong resume is a critical part of transitioning from the military to employment in the private sector with a civilian company. This is because having a clear resume that reflects your dedication to your past roles and the skills you developed in the military may help you secure a civilian job that interests you and supports your life and career goals. Since many military jobs involve specialized knowledge, the key to writing a compelling military resume for a civilian job is often using the correct terminology.

In this article, we explain how to write a military resume for a civilian job by providing a list of steps you can follow, followed by a template and an example.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Learn more: Indeed for Military resource page

What is a military transition resume?

A military transition resume is a document that highlights the unique qualifications, experience and education that you received while in the military. As with a traditional work resume, you can highlight the specific skills related to the job you want to showcase your specialized abilities in the field. One common challenge of writing a military resume is describing the transferable skills you developed while on duty into related civilian skills and qualifications.

When you create your transition resume, it's important to remember to leave out military jargon. Use language that's clear to hiring managers who may not have a background in military terms. For example, you may leave in technical terms that relate to your job duties, but leave out acronyms and other casual phrases that civilians may not know.

Related: How To Write Military Resumes

How to write a military resume

Use these steps to create a resume that includes your military experience:

1. Determine the focus of your post-military career path

Focusing on the type of job you're interested in applying for before you write your resume can help you determine which skills and experience points to feature. Since former military members can pursue various types of jobs as civilians, it can be common to have a few different resumes to highlight specific skill sets. For example, if you have military training in the medical field and also in administration, you might create one resume to showcase your medical skills and experience and another to focus on administrative duties.

Michael May is a former U.S. Army infantryman with experience in business and marketing. Here's his advice for former servicemembers looking for work:

It's not always going to be easy, so be prepared to overcome obstacles. Look toward organizations that support prior service members and companies that hire veterans.

Michael May

Related: 10 of the Best Nonmilitary Jobs for Veterans

2. Make a list of your military duties to determine if they're relevant

Once you know what type of civilian job you want, think about all your duties as a veteran and make a comprehensive list of your accomplishments. At this step, you can use military terminology if it helps you make the list. Once you have the list, evaluate which skills to highlight on your resume based on how relevant they are to your next career. Many services offer assistance with identifying skills for members transitioning out of the services. You can also think of how you used your training to illustrate similarities in your experience and the roles you want.

For example, if you were an infantry soldier in the Army, you may have learned how to assess situations and make quick decisions. These skills are closely related to jobs in security, law enforcement, or supervisory roles.

If you received training as an information officer, you may know about systems or networks closely related to civilian networks and servers. Additionally, you may have experience with specific types of IT equipment.

If you were an aircraft mechanic, you might know how to troubleshoot issues and find solutions. You may also have experience with needs assessment, project management and technical repair.

Related: Checklist for Military-experienced Job Seekers

3. Highlight your skills

While you were in the military, you may have developed and honed your soft skills like communication, leadership, management skills and attention to detail. List these skills in your skills section and incorporate them throughout the accomplishments in your work experience section to showcase yourself as a well-rounded candidate. You can also add industry-specific skills that may help you secure a specialized position. For example, if you have a background as a medic in the military, you might add skills like wound care and first aid to your resume.

Learn how the skills you were taught in the military transfer over to civilian careers. Focus on your strengths and accomplishments during your time in service and apply those to your next career.

Michael May

Related: 12 Military Skills To Put On a Resume for Any Job

4. Include relevant education

After discussing your previous job duties and showcasing how they relate to the career you're pursuing, add information about the college you attended. If you want to list specialized training, make sure it's relevant to the career path you're pursuing.  Be sure to translate your military training courses so employers understand their relevance and value.

If you only received specialized training while in the military, try to relate that experience to a civilian equivalent. To do this, you can do a simple internet search and find some courses online that have similar aspects to the training you received. Use some of the descriptions of the online courses to guide you as you craft descriptions of your activity.

Related: Career Advice for Veterans: How To Transition to Civilian Life

5. Include your security clearances

Security clearances are extremely relevant to jobs in the defense sector and can be important to other roles, so include that information when appropriate. You can add this information to your professional summary or certification section. Your security clearance can sometimes be impressive to hiring managers because it shows that you went through an extensive background check and can work with sensitive information. Additionally, it shows that you can review confidential information and understand the importance of keeping it confidential.

Related: How To List a Security Clearance on Your Resume (With Example)

6. Translate any military terminology

You may be versed with military acronyms, codes and jargon, but a civilian hiring manager may only be familiar with a minimal amount of military terms. When creating your resume, you can incorporate as many non-military terms as possible. After highlighting the germane parts of your military career in your resume, find items that you have described with military terminology and replace them with plain language.

Here are a few examples of translations you can use to translate military jargon and codes to plain language for your military resume:

  • Instead of saying that you “commanded” other people, say that you “supervised” or “directed” a group of people to achieve a general result.

  • Replace the terms EPR/OPR, NCOER/OER or Fitness Report, with “performance appraisal.”

  • Instead of referring to a battalion, command or squadron refer to an “organization.”

  • Refer to your “subordinates” as “employees” or “team members.”

Related: Words To Avoid and Include on a Resume

7. Use keywords from the job description

As you write, take note of the resume keywords you find in the job descriptions you review. You can then put those keywords in your resume because they're specifically what the hiring manager is looking for in their candidates. This serves a dual purpose of allowing you to use more civilian terms in your document.

Related: How To Tailor Your Resume To a Job Description (With Example)

8. Quantify your accomplishments

When applying for jobs, employers often want to see how you can help the company once you're hired. This means your resume can be most effective when it discusses what can make you a cost-effective employee using positive metrics from your time in the military in your work experience section. For example, find ways to show how you made a positive impact on the military to highlight how you can add value to your employer.

Use this method to write your accomplishment bullets on your resume:

  • Result: What was the measurable impact on the situation or task? (Show your value)

  • Action: What was the demonstrable skill being used? (Highlight transferable skills)

  • Task: What was the goal or objective of what was being done? (Define the scope of your accomplishment)

  • Situation: What was the context or scenario in which you were operating? (Translate the impact or stakes)


Here are a few examples of how to use numbers in your work experience section:

  • Achieved a 97% reduction of 200+ help desk trouble tickets backlog by leading a team of 7 technicians to prioritize and effectively schedule the needs of 560 customers.

  • Reduced medical coding processing time by 30% and lowered coding error rate by 29% by introducing standardized procedures and comprehensive staff training.

  • Saved 700 hours per year by using Lean Six Sigma concepts to restructure maintenance shop workstations and tool kits.

Related: How To Use Numbers in a Resume

Military-to-civilian resume template

Here's a template you can use to write a military-to-civilian resume:

Download Resume Template

To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Military-to-civilian resume example

Here's an example military-to-civilian resume you can reference when writing your own:

Marcia Johnson
Baton Rouge, Louisiana | 225-570-3428 |
Medical assistant graduate with more than 10 years of proven success providing attentive, personable service in environments where attention to detail is critical to high levels of service. Flexible, adaptable communication and listening skills ensure the ability to build rapport with patients and intuitively assess their needs. Effectively juggling multiple priorities and responding to the needs of many different customers in fast-paced, time-sensitive environments. Able to balance clinical compliance with friendly, personable patient care.
Phoenix College
Certified Medical Assistant Program
Banner Health, Medical Assistant Externship
June 2020–Current
  • Roomed and triaged patients, took vital signs, obtained medical and medication history and entered patient data into medical charts
  • Stocked and cleaned rooms, sterilized equipment and inspected and calibrated medical devices such as autoclave, spirometer and EKG
  • Gained experience in venipuncture, injections and immunizations. Provided basic wound care and first aid.Conducted cultures and collected and processed samples such as strep throat, urinalysis, glucose and drug screening
  • Set up supplies and sterile trays and assisted providers with up to 6 daily procedures. Answered phones, scheduled patient appointments and educated patients
  • Cut paperwork processing time by 25% after introducing new streamlined administration and document management processes. Trained team to take accountability and follow established guidelines
United States Marine Corps, Administrative and Quality Manager
May 2018–June 2019
  • Directed the production efforts of up to 200+ specialized technicians to ensure daily production goals were achieved. Established daily priorities, created workflow schedules, and delegated tasks. Supervised team's efforts to ensure customer needs were met with the highest standards of quality and customer service
  • Worked with a team of diverse personalities and cultures from various organizations. Built a collaborative team environment and motivated the team to take pride in their work and achieve daily goal
  • Eliminated 30% non-compliance rate after performing complete procedural, administrative and documentation analysis. Used established policies, procedures and regulations to guide improvements of the team
  • Attention to detail
  • Use of medical equipment
  • Knowledge of biology
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Fluent in Arabic, Japanese and Spanish

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