Common Questions & Additional Resources
This resource provides guidance for military veterans who are preparing a résumé for the civilian workforce.
Last Edited: 2016-02-23 12:50:50
Combat Experience: Should I include it?
Do not hide or deny the experiences that you had in the military. However, as with all of your experiences/qualifications/education/training, only bring up combat experience if it is relevant to the position you are applying for.
What else can I highlight from my military experience?
Employers DO want to hire veterans because of the exceptional skills veterans bring to the workplace. Frame your experiences to address the needs of employers; they are interested in interpersonal, technical, and leadership skills, as well as flexibility and creativity (Fretz). Think about your audience and show them how you can meet their needs. A good résumé shows an employer what skills you bring to the company; an excellent résumé shows an employer how you can solve a problem or fill a gap in their workforce (even if they didn’t know they had it!).
Education: How far back should I go?
In addition to listing military work and training experiences, you will want to include educational history on your résumé. If you have any college or technical education, you should include the name of the school, location, course of study or degree pursued, and dates on your job documents. You can include this training even if you have not completed a degree—showing that you have done some coursework, technical training, apprenticeship, internship, etc., can show employers that you have taken the initiative to pursue training relevant to the position you are applying for. How much information in this category you choose to include will depend on the needs of the job you are seeking, as well as the kind of résumé you choose to write. However, here are a few general tips:
After you leave the military, you may choose to leave your high school off of your résumé in order to make room for other, more recent, qualifications. This is up to you. If you have the space and feel that including your high school is important, then do so.
You may also want to list any specific courses or certifications you have completed in your education if they apply to the position you are seeking.
Should I include my disability status on my résumé?
You should not list your disability status on your résumé. You may want to complete a Veterans Preference Form if you are applying for a federal job or other position that uses a numerical ranking system for applicants. If you complete this form, you can briefly note on your résumé that you have done so (Kolin). Essentially, the Veteran Preference Form indicates if you are a disabled veteran or dependent who qualifies for preferential hiring status based on your military experience.
If you continue to have questions or concerns, consider searching for veteran support services in your area. You may want to contact the VA, or local branches of the VFW, American Legion, Student Veterans of America (SVA or SVO) on local college campuses, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), or other groups for more information on specific resources available to veterans. However, since it can sometimes be difficult to access in-person resources, it is important to note that there are many online resources available as well. Online resources include:
Career One Stop (Sponsored by the US Dept. of Labor & The American Job Center)
O*Net Online (Sponsored by the US Dept. of Labor & The American Job Center)
My Next Move For Veterans (Sponsored by the US Dept. of Labor & The American Job Center)
Linked In Veterans Resources (This site provides access for veterans to free online classes, including one on Translating your Military Experience to Civilian Life.)
Fretz, Eric. “Demilitarizing Your Résumé.” Personal Correspondence. 24 November 2015. Email.
Hurt, Alyson, Erica Ryan, and JoElla Straley. "By the Numbers: Today's Military." NPR Special Series: Those Who Serve. NPR, 3 July 2011. Web. 7 Jan. 2016.
Kolin, Philip C. Successful Writing at Work: Concise Fourth Edition. 4th Ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015. Print.
"Skills Translator." Military.com. Monster, n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2016.