How to Explain Military Experience on a Resume

By Amy Whitmyre; Updated July 05, 2017
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Military experience can be a valuable asset when looking for a civilian job. However, many civilian employers may not understand typical military jargon or know how your military experience and accomplishments have prepared you for working a regular job. For that reason, it’s important to create a resume that has already done the interpretation work for them. Translate your military experiences into equivalent civilian experiences so that employers will immediately understand and see your value.

Resumes with Military Experience

Establish an objective. When writing a resume, it’s important for you to know the type of job you are searching for. If you don’t know what job you are suited for, then employers will not know either. The entire resume needs to be written in a way that is targeted to your objective. If you have more than one objective, you may need more than one resume.

List basic military experience information including occupation, locations served and deployment dates. Include accomplishments and achievements, skills learned, and awards. Put more emphasis on recent experience, not experience from more than 10 or 15 years ago.

Remove all military jargon, acronyms and terminology and replace them with civilian language. Never assume that a civilian employer will understand the military or take the time to learn more about anything they don’t understand on your resume. It is your job to translate your achievements into civilian language for them.

Think further about your objective and make sure the military experience you’ve included on the resume conveys the skills and achievements needed to do that job. If your objective is a career in logistics and your military experience includes logistics work, emphasize that aspect of your military career over other areas. You may need to leave out or gloss over certain areas of your career if they don’t have any relevance to your current career objective.

Tip

Have a civilian friend read your resume to make sure they understand everything. It's very easy to forget that the terminology you use everyday is not the terminology that others use.

About the Author

Amy Whitmyre has been a writer for more than 10 years. Her career experience also includes work as an educator and market researcher and a librarian in the legal and medical fields. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in library science and is currently working on a Master of Science in education.