How to Translate a Military Resume to Civilian Resume

By: Michael Fox, NRWA, CPRW, MBA

You want to use your resume as an announcement and you want your announcement to send the message that you are the right person for the interview and job. To do this, your resume should not be written in military jargon. You cannot expect civilian employers to understand military terms or spend time trying to figure out what you actually did when you were enlisted.

There are several things you can do to make your previous military experience more marketable to civilian employers via the resume. For instance, make sure you translate your military experience and skills with the requirements for the civilian job you are interviewing for. Here is a list of military-to-civilian occupation translators provided by the National Resource Directory. If they do not match up exactly, take the characteristics of what you learned in the military and align them with characteristics common to the position you are targeting. Here, you want to ensure you use job titles / duties understandable to your civilian audience.

Practice using civilian terminology relevant to your past military experience. For example, military title “Storekeeper” is used in the US Navy to describe job duties related to inventory, finance, and accounting functions. Instead of using “Storekeeper” as job title in the resume, use Accounting or Inventory Manager. Civilians will be able to quickly translate these titles into skills they can easily understand, which will make it easier for them to assess your skill level / value.

You want your skills to be clear and understandable to all employers, leaving no question or doubt about your abilities. As military veteran, you have the skills employers demand. It is up to you to first find you niche and then communicate your skills correctly to ensure success. Now get out there and get the job you want!

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in transition services for senior-level DOD officers and government officials. Find out more about our Military and Government Transition services.