Military Service as Job Experience

Resume Services

CareerProPlus provides you with several professional resume writing services to choose from, including corporate, military transition, federal, government contractor, overseas resumes and civilian resume writing for Veterans.

Some of the other qualities that military experience shows a potential employer include:

  • Perseverance — Military training and service can be the toughest job on earth. Successful completion of a tour of service indicates that an applicant has what it takes to endure difficult circumstances to complete the mission.
  • Concern for others — Military experience implies service to others. Individual accomplishment is not valued as highly in the military as getting your whole team through an exercise or an ordeal.
  • Teamwork — The military puts an emphasis on teamwork at every level of the organization. Some service members are groomed for leadership roles as they move up through the ranks. Civilian employers can expect an applicant with military service to excel in a team environment and be able to work with a diverse group of people.
  • Loyalty — Military Veterans demonstrate their sense of loyalty by serving their country, obeying their superiors and protecting their comrades. Any future employer would be fortunate to have a loyal employee join their company.
  • Work ethic — Military life isn’t easy, and it is no place for slackers. Completing a tour of service shows you have a strong work ethic, which employers are always looking for.
  • Time management — This is another skill taught in the military to everyone, no matter their job or rank. Getting the work done as efficiently as possible is just as important as getting it done at all. In combat, timing is important. Everything that’s done outside of combat is practice for the inevitable.
  • Conflict resolution — You may think civilian employers will see your military service as a sign you are a war hawk. Actually, they should understand that conflict resolution is an important part of successful military service. The ability to deescalate a situation is more valuable than fighting skills.
  • Organization — A standard requirement in any military operation, organization is required to succeed in the military. The planning, coordinating and organization of any action is constantly evaluated and analyzed in the military. Veterans come away with the ability to organize as if it were second nature.
  • Adaptability — Last-minute changes are not unusual in the military. Veterans are comfortable anticipating and adapting to changes at any stage of an operation.

This is just a partial list of qualities you gained in the military and can capitalize on in the civilian job market.


It’s not enough to list your name, rank and serial number with your dates of service on your resume. You will get much more out of your experience by explaining it in a way that civilian employers and bosses can understand. By translating your experience from military jargon into business-speak, you can maximize its value.

The military has a language all its own, and after several years of service you might not even realize that everything you say about your military experience sounds like a foreign language to most employers. Start by spelling out the acronyms. Military alphabet soup will only confuse and annoy people who read your resume.

You can unpack some of the military jargon by using more words to describe your duties. “Efficiency” is part of military-speak, but for someone who doesn’t understand the jargon, there are just a lot of details left out. Try describing the tasks you completed in very simple steps, as if you were speaking to a child. Remember: you don’t get credit for the steps you leave out, because a civilian employer is not going to be able to assume what you did.

In describing your accomplishments on your resume, you may have to take some creative license. Most tasks completed in the military involve a team, but to highlight your accomplishments, you have to single your own actions out from that group. It may feel awkward at first, describing your own individual actions. The team is not here applying for the job with you, though, and your potential employer needs information with which to evaluate you.

You will do a better job of translating your military experience into usable information on your resume if you understand what civilian employers are looking for. The job titles often don’t translate well, so you have to focus on general skills.

Here’s a list of qualities that are usually used to evaluate job applicants for civilian positions:

  • Number of people supervised
  • Size of your budget
  • Schedule worked
  • Number of people served per day
  • Types of training received
  • Monetary value of supplies and materials managed
  • Evaluation performance

Whether your materials were missiles or two-by-fours and the people you supervised were soldiers or salesmen, your experience is relevant. It’s up to you, however, to make it clear to your potential employer how it compares to what they’re looking for.

Clarifying Military Experience on Your Resume

The goal is to explain your experience in a way that makes you the obvious choice for the job. Don’t overlook the obvious barriers to clarify, however. Grammar and spelling mistakes can make your resume difficult to read and understand.

When writing and formatting your resume, keep in mind the potential employer who will read it. They are busy, have many resumes to review and are shorthanded — otherwise they wouldn’t be looking to hire. You want to make it easy for them to find the important information on your resume.

Most employers faced with a stack of resumes will give each one just a few seconds. They scan down the page looking for specific details and anything else that stands out. They’re not going to spend extra time trying to decipher spelling and grammar errors. They probably will not read every word on the page.

Your military experience taught you to be organized and concise. Use headings, subheadings and bulleted lists to make it easy for any employer to scan your resume and find the most important information. Instead of describing your experience in long paragraphs, use a list of short phrases with just the key words and phrases.

Also, be sure the final draft of your resume is typo- and error-free. Get at least one other person to review it for you, because it can be difficult to find your own writing errors. Another proofreading trick is to read it from the bottom up. Read the last line on the page, then the one before that and continue in this manner until you’ve reviewed all of the copy.

Resumes with grammar and spelling errors generally end up in the trash. No one is going to figure out you’re the obvious choice for the job if your resume is sitting in the wastepaper bin.

Read More +Less –

Translating Military Speak for the Business Audience

You probably performed a lot of the same tasks in the military that a civilian employer would want you to do. To a certain extent, work is work. The military, however, has a way of putting its own brand on things, and that language often doesn’t translate for non-military personnel.

An employer with a business background instead of a military one might struggle to understand some of your basic terminology. Here are some words you may be inclined to put on your resume and their non-military or business equivalent:

  • Subordinates — This term is a little strong for the civilian world, so you should probably avoid using it. In the corporate world, subordinates are referred to as “employees” or “staff.” In a lot of businesses, the hierarchy of people in the organization is downplayed to make everyone feel important.
  • Combat — Of course, the corporate world does not talk about going to battle within the organization or waging war on competing entities. The softer term, “conflict,” is preferred for discussing adversities. A combat-like job might be described as tasks performed under hazardous conditions.
  • Command — Although most successful CEOs are considered to be “in command” of the company, this is not a word that’s too commonly used in business. On your resume, you should refer to your command experience as “management” or “supervisory” experience. You led or directed other people for whom you were responsible. Similarly, terms like “Major Command” do not typically resonate with civilian audiences. In civilian-speak, calling them “regional headquarters” gives would-be employers a better idea of their function and importance.
  • TDY/TAD — This acronym does not have a direct equivalent, although the concept is important. Potential employers want to know if you accomplished your job from different locations and have the ability to coordinate task completion while on the road, either with your team or without. If you describe this type of experience as “business travel,” a potential civilian employer will understand very well.
  • Mission — This is another military term that carries a certain severity to non-military personnel. In business jargon, your mission translates to an objective, job, task or responsibility.

If you are in doubt about how to describe your military experience on your resume, remember to replace the language of the military with business jargon. You have the right experience for the job — you just have to use the right words to describe it so your future employer will see you’re the obvious choice for the job.

Word choice is an important part of the interview, as well. Most civilian employers will be impressed by a certain amount of military-like decorum, but if they become confused or intimidated by your information, the interview is likely to reach a negative outcome.

Here are some interviewing tips:

  • Do your research — Understand the industry and the company you’re interviewing with. Find out what makes them different from their competitors and what type of applicants they usually look for. You might even discover successful Veterans in their existing ranks and be able to draw on that fact in your interview.
  • Be prepared — Practice answering typical interview questions. Also, prepare a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer to learn more about the company. You could use these questions as a way of showing you did your research by starting each one with a statement of fact, like: “You employ 35 people at three locations. How many of those employees…?” Be sure not to ask a question that the interviewer already covered during the course of your discussion with them.

Tell your story! It may be hard to put yourself in the spotlight, but an interview is where you want to shine. You want to make a personal connection with the interviewer so he or she will remember you. People connect with human stories, and this is your chance to tell yours. Make it positive and focus on what inspired you to join the military and what life lessons you walked away with.

Strengths of a Military Background in Job Searches

Your military background prepared you in ways that most civilian job experience could not. You are more disciplined and highly trained than the average job-seeker. You can use that to your advantage by investigating job opportunities in specific fields. Here’s a list of fields where Veterans tend to excel:

  • Engineering
  • Logistics
  • Skilled trades
  • Information technology
  • Business administration
  • Law enforcement
  • Customer service

These fields are all rather structured and technical and require a certain type of personality and work style. Your military experience prepared you with the right work ethic to succeed in these areas. You also may have the experience and temperament for customer service because of your military experience. Service is a big element of military life, and that puts you ahead of many other non-military applicants.

Building on your military success and the skills you acquired there can set you up for future success in your civilian career. Use every advantage you have to focus your job search in areas where you can be most valuable. In other words, look for a job you will enjoy!

Read More +Less –


Learn More

For additional help and guidance on your post-military job search, contact CareerProPlus. We support Veterans both online and in-person with the information and tools they need to transition into civilian careers. From our job fairs to resume writing help, we have resources specifically designed for Veterans.

If you or someone you know is a military service member anticipating retirement or discharge and planning for your professional future, or if you’re a Veteran looking for the next job you will love, check out what CareerProPlus has to offer. Get in touch today for a quote.

Get Started Now