Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Write a Military-to-Civilian Resume: Highlighting Your Military Experience

October 1, 2021

As a person with military experience, you have a unique but broad skill set that can translate to a variety of corporate jobs. If you are transitioning to a civilian job or are looking for a new one, you may need to explain your military experience in a way that more universally demonstrates your leadership, aptitudes and work ethic. In this article, we discuss tips for translating military language to corporate language in a military-to-civilian resume and provide you a template and example to help you write your own.

You can also fill out our Military Indeed Resume Review questionnaire to receive personalized feedback from a professional resume writer.

What is a military-to-civilian resume?

A military-to-civilian resume is a job application document in which you can showcase your relevant, transferable military experience to non-military, or civilian, jobs. Like a traditional resume, it includes information such as professional experience, education, skills and other miscellaneous but relevant items, like certifications or awards. This resume is useful for individuals with military experience seeking a civilian job.

Tips for a military-to-civilian resume

From your experience in the military, you have many transferable skills that are valuable for jobs you are thinking about applying to. Here are a few tips to help you in applying to potential civilian job opportunities with a military background:

  • Review the job description. The position you are applying for will have specific skills they are looking for in a candidate. Try to mirror your skills with the descriptions, but use their language when writing it out on your resume. Corporate recruiters are looking for those words when skimming your resume, so it is more likely to be seen when using their terms.

  • Be succinct. Recruiters are looking at many resumes at the same time and may not have time to thoroughly read your resume. If you are concise in the descriptions of your duties, they will have an easier time seeing the whole picture and will more likely take the time to read through your resume.

  • Include accomplishments. Your accomplishments are significant in showing potential employees your ability to carry out various tasks and projects. As mentioned previously, you will want to use civilian language for the reviewer to understand how it translates into the position for which you applied.

  • Consider mentioning volunteer experience. If the job you are applying for is related to your volunteer experience, it should be included on your resume. Your volunteer experience also shows recruiters your character.

How to write a military-to-civilian resume

Here are some steps to help you write this type of resume:

1. Start with a summary statement

Start your resume with a summary of your skills and achievements. This section should be a concise, brief summarization of your key qualifications that takes up no more than five to seven typewritten lines or three to four bullet points. Your summary needs to engage and interest the reader as well as show how qualified you are for the position. Your summary should answer these questions:

  • What job are you targeting?
  • What will make you valuable or cost-effective for your next employer? For example, troubleshooting and analytical problem-solving skills help you adapt to new technology or systems.
  • How many years of relevant or related experience do you have?
  • What are the three to five key skills that are most relevant in the role you are targeting?
  • Are there any specific software skills, certifications or a security clearance that make you a valuable employee?

Related: How To Write a Stellar Entry-Level Resume Summary

2. Use reverse chronological order for work experience

While your prior work experience is essential, the recruiter looks at your current work experience first. So, start your resume with your most recent experience and work your way backward through your experience. t. They should have seen an excellent summary of your experience in the summary section and will want to see the details first.

Chronological Resume Format
Image description

Chronological Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary 3. Professional history
4. Educational history
5. Skills and abilities

3. Include a skills section

As previously mentioned, you want to list your skills in civilian terms. You can also list the skills you had previous to your military service if they apply to the position. For example, you might have managed a team of recruits, including their training and schedules. These skills could be listed as team leadership and schedule management. The skills you have been using are transferable to many other types of positions.

4. Outline your education

As with any resume, don't forget to list your education. If you took any extra courses or workshops during your military career, list those too. If you have any certifications, these should be listed on your resume, as well. They can be listed under education or separated into a certifications or licenses section.

Related: How To Write a Personal Bio That Draws Attention

Military-to-civilian template

Use this template as a guide to formatting your resume when applying for a new role:

Phone | Email | Location (City, State, ZIP) | Professional website

2-3 sentences or 2-3 bullet points that include your intended career focus, years of professional experience, accomplishments, top skills and strengths as they relate to the position and what you’re looking for in your next role.

Skill, skill, skill, skill, skill, skill, skill

Title, Company Name, Start Date - End Date
Short paragraph (2-3 typewritten lines) that highlights the scope of your duties (i.e. number of people supervised, dollar amount of inventory managed, etc.) and gives an overview of your responsibilities.
(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).
(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).
*(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).

Title, Company Name, Start Date - End Date
Short paragraph (2-3 typewritten lines) that highlights the scope of your duties (i.e. number of people supervised, dollar amount of inventory managed, etc.) and gives an overview of your responsibilities.
(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).
(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).
*(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).

Title, Company Name, Start Date - End Date
Short paragraph (2-3 typewritten lines) that highlights the scope of your duties (i.e. number of people supervised, dollar amount of inventory managed, etc.) and gives an overview of your responsibilities.
(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).
(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).
*(Action verb) + (RESULTS) by (ACTION) in (SITUATION and TASK).

Degree Type, Major (if applicable), Institution Name

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

William Smith
555 Liberty Way
Portland, OR 97035

Aircraft mechanic and crew leader with 10 years of experience leading teams of up to 6 technicians to maintain all aircraft systems of multiple airframes. Dedicated to efficiently balancing productivity, quality and safety to ensure customer needs are met. Active Secret security clearance, renewed 2020.

Excellent verbal and written communication, highly organized, project management, time management, administrative, critical-thinking, problem-solving, skilled in organizational policy, quick-learner, excellent multitasker, able to work independently, effective team leader

Professional Experience
Aviation Maintenance Team Lead, United States Air Force, 11/2014 to 11/2021
Led team of 6 technicians who performed troubleshooting and problem solving by communicating with F-16 pilots to isolate faults, determine problems and find solutions. Worked quickly, made fast decisions and innovatively solved problems to achieve a personal rate of 100% aircraft flight availability.

    • Established daily production priorities, created workflow schedule, delegated tasks and ensured an average of 500+ annual maintenance actions were completed on-time with a focus on quality and safety.*
  • Used wire diagrams, signal testing and tracing to conduct root cause analysis of any faults, isolate malfunctions and conduct repairs with 93% QA pass rate.
  • Constructed, assembled, calibrated, tested, adjusted and troubleshot equipment, components, devices and systems. Unit achieved a 1% repeat rate for mechanical problems, well below the 5% USAF goal.
  • Worked from engineering drawings, schematics, written or verbal instructions to provide support, repairs and maintenance on flight console, flight control, radar, radar threat warning, displays, circuit boards, wiring and electrical systems.
  • Maintained detailed logs and documentation of data for tests, procedures and maintenance performed.

Aviation Maintenance Technician, United States Air Force, 11/2011 to 11/2014
Teamed with avionics, electrical and environmental, sheet metal, structural, engines and corrosion control specialists to ensure aircraft received repairs or maintenance needed to maintain its production schedule. Inspected, maintained, repaired aircraft valued at $20M+.

  • Employed mechanical skills and ability to isolate faults to achieve flight-readiness of 99.5% – 17.5% above standards. Oversaw towing, launch and recovery as well as pre-, post- and thru-flight inspections.
  • Managed time and prioritized maintenance needs to ensure the aircraft was ready to fly 3,500+ flights per year while achieving a 96.6% on-time maintenance completion rate.
  • Consistently achieved 100% pass rate on quality assurance inspections while still meeting deadlines; used meticulous attention to detail and proactive approach to problem resolution.
  • Ensured MSDS, OSHA, EPA and FOD safety standards and guidelines were followed; kept workspace clean and orderly and enforced personal protective equipment (PPE) usage and HazMat handling regulations.

University of Oregon

  • Bachelor of Science in Political Science


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