3 easy tips to help you focus your post-military resume

As you apply for civilian careers, make sure to align resume with the skills listed in the job posting


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You’re on the hunt for your first post-military job, an exciting new milestone in your career.

And here at VA, we encourage you to submit an application for one of the incredible opportunities we currently have available. In fact, we’re one the biggest employers of Veterans in the country – we understand your experience and value it beyond measure.

As you prepare your resume, you’ll want to include your wide-ranging military experience and solid base of skills and expertise. It makes sense to include everything, right? Actually, maybe not.

“Veterans promote themselves as Swiss Army knives, when the marketplace today needs scalpels,” wrote Lida Citroën for Military.com.

Tim Blakney, a recruitment consultant for VA, agrees: “Demonstrate how your skills will fit perfectly with the position.”

How to focus

Luckily, VA makes it easy to tailor your resume to the job you want by listing the desired skillset in every position announcement on USAJobs.

“The position announcement you are applying to will give you all the information you need to succeed,” Blakney said.

Once you’ve reviewed the announcement, tweak your resume to emphasize skills that match the job requirements. Here are a few tips:

  • Be specific. This will help hiring managers better understand how your military experience applies to the open job, Citroën wrote.

“Are you speaking to employers in a focused, intentional and specific way or are you positioning yourself as a generalist? While it’s great to know many things and have many skills, employers hire for specific talents,” she said.

  • Translate your skills. Keep in mind that you’re applying for civilian jobs. We hire a lot of Veterans at VA, so we’re familiar with how military experience can translate to a non-military job, but many civilian employers are not.

“Veterans bring a lot to the table, but you may need to define your skills and translate them in a way that someone outside the military can understand,” Blakney said.

He recommended two free online tools on Military.com and VA’s website that can help you translate your specific skills to what the company is seeking.

However, your experience will translate more readily if you match your words and phrases to what appears in the job announcement.

  • Be strategic. A resume shouldn’t be a laundry list of every job responsibility you’ve ever had. You want to highlight the experiences that are the closest match to the position you’re seeking.

“Think of your resume not as a comprehensive list of your career history, but as a marketing document selling you as the perfect person for the job,” the job website The Muse recommended.

Adjusting your resume for every job you apply for can be time consuming, but it is the best way to stand out from the crowd.

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