Resume Writing Tips for Veterans

Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert,

You’ve gained a wealth of experience and skills in the military; how do you convey it all on your resume? Read on learn six great resume-writing tips for veterans!

You’re leaving the service and are faced with the daunting task of developing your resume. Your military career is filled with accomplishments, but even the most decorated veteran needs to figure out how to effectively communicate those successes in civilian terms. Monster’s resume-writing tips for veterans will show you how to draft a high-impact resume that describes how your military experience is transferable to a civilian job.

As with all other resumes, you need to kick things off with a professional summary—about three or four sentences—that quickly lets the reader know what you’ve accomplished and the value you’d bring to an organization. From there, follow Monster’s basic resume format to cleanly and clearly demonstrate your skills and experience. Make no mistake: Although companies are eager to hire veterans, that doesn’t mean you can skip the fundamental elements of a strong resume.

Simple Resume-Writing Tips for Veterans

  1. Define your civilian job objective.
  2. Create a resume that speaks to employers’ needs.
  3. Assume readers have no knowledge of the military.
  4. Showcase your accomplishments.
  5. Flaunt your military background.
  6. If you were in active combat, leave out the details.

1. Define Your Civilian Job Objective

You can’t effectively market yourself for a civilian job if you don’t have a clearly defined goal. Because so many service people have diverse backgrounds, they often make the mistake of creating resumes that are too general to be effective.

Before writing your resume, do some soul searching, research occupations, and pinpoint a specific career path. If you’re having trouble with this step, tap into your local transition office or solicit the help of a career coach. If you’re torn between two or more potential goals, set up different resumes.

2. Create a Resume That Speaks to Employers’ Needs

Now that your objective is defined, you’re ready to create a winning resume. Consider a resume’s purpose: To answer the employer’s question, “What can this person do for me?”

A great way to start thinking about employers’ needs is to research your target job. Look at jobs on Monster, scour company websites, and read as many job postings as possible. What types of skills and experiences are employers seeking? What aspects of your background are most relevant?

Any information that does not relate to your goal should be eliminated or de-emphasized, and this includes any unrelated military awards, training, and distinctions. For example, your marksmanship badge, while impressive, may not have any bearing if you’re applying to an office position. This is often the hardest step for former military personnel, which is why it’s so common to see their resumes span five pages or more.

As you decide which information to include, ask yourself, “Will a potential employer care about this experience?” Consider this the top among resume-writing tips for veterans: Include only the information that will help you land an interview.

3. Assume Readers Have No Knowledge of the Military

Demilitarize your job titles, duties, accomplishments, training, and awards to appeal to civilian hiring managers. Employers with no exposure to the military don’t understand the terminology and acronyms, so translate these into civilianese.

Show your resume to several nonmilitary friends and ask them to point out terms they don’t understand. For additional resume-writing tips for veterans, refer to job postings and’s skills translator for help substituting civilian keywords for military terms.

4. Showcase Your Accomplishments

Your military career has offered you excellent opportunities for training, practical experience, and advancement. Tout these accomplishments on your resume so the average civilian understands the importance of your achievements and the measurable outcomes.

Here’s an example of a demilitarized accomplishment statement:

  • Increased employee retention rate by 16 percent by focusing on training, team building, and recognition programs. Earned reputation as one of the most progressive and innovative IT organizations in the Army’s communications and IT community.

Here’s an example of incorporating a military award so employers understand its value:

  • Received Army Achievement Medal for completing 400+ medical evaluations and developing patient database using MS Access. Database improved reporting functions and tracked patient demographics, records, medication, appointments, and status.

5. Flaunt Your Military Background

You might have heard you need to develop a functional resume to mask or downplay your military experience, but the opposite is true. Your military experience is an asset and should be marketed as such. Many employers realize the value of bringing veterans on board.

Attributes honed in the military include

  • dedication
  • leadership
  • teamwork
  • positive work ethic
  • cross-functional skills

If you fear a potential employer won’t realize the significance of your military experience, make sure your resume clearly communicates the value you bring to the table.

6. If You Were in Active Combat, Leave Out the Details

Defending your country and its interests is among the most admirable pursuits, but the sad truth is actual references to the horrors of combat leave many employers squeamish. While you might have worked in a short-range air defense engagement zone, this experience might not relate to your future goal. Instead of including details of your actual combat experience on the battlefield, focus instead on any awards and the team-building experience that you developed in combat and how those can apply in the civilian world.

Graham Personnel Services is here to help you with your job searching needs! Feel free to call or text us at 336-288-9330 with any questions and to get started on your next great opportunity.

Read the full Monster article here.