3 Things Veterans Need to Know About Drafting a Resume

By Kat Krull

The transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging. This is particularly true when you’re hoping to land a traditional job after several years of experience in the military.

Challenges lie in translating skills and experience into something employers will understand, selling yourself on a one- or two-page document, and making your resume easy to read and understand.

Here are some things veterans need to know in order to draft a great resume:

1. Focus on accomplishments

Employers like to see what you achieved at your last job. They don’t want you to list responsibilities. Tell them something about your experience in the military. Did you manage a large number of subordinates? Were you in charge of valuable equipment while doing your job? Did you save the organization money, make a considerable amount of sales, etc.? List these as bullet points under each job as opposed to simply listing responsibilities or duties.

2. Use civilian language

Don’t include acronyms and titles on your resume that a potential employer may not understand. For instance, if you were a radio operator in the military, you might instead call it “Telecommunications Specialist” on your resume. Or if your title was “Navy Boatswain’s Mate,” you could instead call it “Vessel Maintenance Crew” or something similar.

This also applies to duties and accomplishments. Don’t use words and phrases that a potential employer might not be familiar with, such as “air assault operations.” Instead, explain exactly what you did and why your role was important for success.

3. Sell yourself

Think of your resume as selling a product: you. Don’t think of your resume as a document that details your job history — instead, remember that it should highlight your best qualities and accomplishments to show an employer why you’re a good candidate for the job. Basically, you need to sell instead of tell.

Resume expert Wendy Enelow provides this example that helps illustrate telling vs. selling:  

  • Tell: “Managed fleet of military vehicles.”
  • Sell: “Managed fleet of military vehicles valued in excess of $225 million and achieved 100% operational readiness scores for two consecutive years.”

What do you think? What else do veterans need to know about drafting a resume?

Kat Krull is the Marketing Manager of Resunate, a job application tool that tailors and optimizes your resume for a specific job. You can find Kat and Resunate on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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