top of page


The folowing was written by Bo Smith.

Going from the military to a civilian position is not an easy transition for most veterans. There is a surprisingly large gap in both culture and language between the two sectors. It can almost feel like learning a second language or traveling to another country.

A veteran is also trained to think of putting the mission ahead of himself or herself first. This sometimes makes it harder to write a resume because it promotes one's self and how they stand out. We believe that those who defend our country shouldn't struggle when it comes to starting a career. Let's take a look at some tips to help improve your resume so that it is more civilian-friendly.

Demilitarize Your Resume

This is not to say "don't list your military experience." Far from it! We think you should include your title and rank. What we mean by this is to not use military expressions or acronyms throughout your resume. Most people reading your resume aren't veterans and some terms may be lost on them. If you must include an acronym, make sure you spell it out first then put the acronym in parentheses. Afterwards, you can use the acronym throughout your resume.

Listing Skills and Experience

Businesses will hire who they believe will best help their bottom line. So when you list your experience, you want to provide qualitative and quantitative data. For example: "I tracked and maintained $10 million worth of government equipment." This shows that, from a logistics standpoint, you are very responsible and able to maintain records of a company's valuables.

Additionally, if you were an Executive Officer and engaged in combat, you don't want to write "I shot at people." You'll write, "I supervised a unit of 20 people and assessed high stress situations and completed tasks under intense pressure." Not only does that show you are a leader, but you can manage a team and give great guidance under tough circumstances.

There are plenty of civilian positions that are similar to a job you performed in your branch of service. If you're looking to make a lateral movement to that civilian position, make sure you use keywords that show how your job relates to the one you're applying for.

Highlight Your Accomplishments

While in service, our military men and women are supposed to act in uniformity and many of our communtication is structured. In the civilian world your presentation and communication will be more relaxed. Not only that, but you will also want to brag about your individual achievements. Employers will be glad you can work in a team, but they want to know why they should choose you over someone else. Make sure to list on your resume how you contributed to your team's success and any honors you received while serving.

Take Advantage of Programs

Did you know that each branch of military provides transition training for its members? You can also go through the Department of Veteran Affairs or the Labor Department, which offers tools and classes that can help with starting a civilian career. They also offer classes in various skills in case you're looking for a job that is different from your role in the military. Be sure to include these classes on your resume.

Brian Kropp, an HR leader at Gartner who works on hiring veterans, says it is important to take advantage of every resource at your disposal. According to Kropp, some ex-military members don’t consider themselves veterans if they didn’t see combat, so they have misgivings about taking advantage of these services. Seek out places that actively hire veterans and reach out to those who are directly in charge of hiring. Additionally, volunteering can bolster your resume, especially if it's in a field related to your future career.


No matter what rank, position or branch you served in, we are grateful for your service to our country. Serving in the military is not an easy task and neither is transitioning back into civilian life. But with these tips, you should be able to move into a career that will fulfill your goals. And if you're needing help writing a resume, you can check our blog on how to create a professional resume.


Bo Smith is an Account Manager and Social Media Coordinator for Career Staffing Services. Along with recruiting for various clerical and medical office positions, he is the company’s chief content creator. His work includes social media posts, blog writing and video production. Outside of work, Bo is a member of Little Rock’s barbershop group Acapella Rising and the host of The Cinephile Gamers Podcast.

From Michael Hinkle, President, SkillMil:

Join a community of veterans who are spending less time translating skills and more time connecting with recruiters, and getting hired! ​ Our AI-powered solution, Milly, helps you create an applicant tracking system (ATS) ready resume in minutes.

Please visit today. Upload your VMET or Resume. Tweak it. Use it anywhere.

Listen to our latest "Diapers and Deployments" podcast on your favorite streaming service or by visiting

As always, thank you for your continued support of SkillMil, our Diapers and Deployments podcast, and our newest SkillMil Family of Services product, Telehealth for our Veterans.


bottom of page