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Out of Uniform: Resume Tips for Making the Transition

From military to civilian- making a smooth change

The road to a civilian career from one in the defense can seem quite challenging. No matter how decorated your military career may have been, transitioning into a civilian position will still seem like quite the task. Here are some of the tips that you can use in order to draft a resume that will help you in the same.

Defining your objective and consequently your CV

The first rule to achieving anything is to have a clearly defined goal. Many resumes do not create the impact that their writers want to evoke, because they are general to have any special value. Before you create yours, research and pinpoint a specific career path. If you want to work towards two or more goals, create different resumes for each.

A resume that addresses your employers’ needs

Next, you will need to tailor your resume as per your objectives. Make your resume’s objective an answer to the question ‘What can he or she do for my organization or me?’

The first step to understand the needs of your employer is to research your target job. What are the skills that your prospective employers are looking for? What is there in your experience and expertise that makes you the candidate for the job? Anything that does not relate to the goal should be deemphasized including military training and/or awards.

As you go about thinking what is relevant in your resume and what is not, ask yourself ‘Will my employer care about this achievement or experience?’

Do not underestimate the advantage that your military background has

While you need to deemphasize any irrelevant experience and achievements in your civilian resume, understanding where it may be of relevance is also important. Keep in mind that your military background is also an asset, but only at the right places, with many employers knowing the importance of keeping veterans in their organizations. Qualities like dedication, positive work ethic and cross-functional skills are a small subset of what all veterans possess, and this is what you need to highlight in your resume to make yourself a viable candidate.

Helping your hiring manager understand

Your hiring managers may not be experts at military jargon, and you may be too used to using it as you explain something or in talking to people. Employers without any military exposure do not understand those acronyms, which makes translating them into ‘civilianese’ more important. You can show your resume to your non-military friends and remove terms that they do not understand. Read all kinds of job postings to substitute civilian keywords in your resume.

Test your resume in different areas

Writing a resume that would work just as well in the civilian world is but a continuous process. As you polish your resume, keep distributing it and track its response rate.  You will get valuable feedback and suggestions as you do this, and following them carefully is all what you will need to do for generating job interviews!

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