Search Icon

Writing a Resume from a Military Background


One of the most important parts of any job application is your resume. A civilian resume is simply a summary of your work background and experience. The resume is typically the first information a potential employer will learn about you.

With your background in military service, you already have an impressive wealth of knowledge and skills. At Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard, we’ve put together some tips on how to create a resume that will help you express your extensive background and set you apart from other applicants.

Collect The Necessary Information

Before you get started on your resume, you need to collect your assets.
Get your VMET.

You will want to start by getting a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) from the Department of Defense. This document will provide an overview of the skills that you gained in the military.

Create a list of your technical skills.

Break down the skills your learned during your military career and translate these skills into civilian terms. Those who work as mechanics, engineers, or computer technicians have skills that will easily convert to civilian jobs.

Create a list of your intangible skills.

In addition to your technical skills, the intangible skills you gained in the military are also important to employers. Be sure to list your skills such as discipline, work ethic, and leadership.

Choose a Resume Style

You can organize your resume in a few different ways depending on your preferences. Be sure to evaluate each style and choose the one that allows your skills to shine.

Functional Resume

In this type of resume, you can highlight your skills while de-emphasizing any work history or gaps in your resume. This style also separates your skills and accomplishments into specific areas of expertise.

Chronological Resume

In this style, you will highlight your work history. Starting with your most recent job, you will then go back in time, listing previous positions. Under each position, you will include a brief list/summary of your responsibilities and accomplishments.

Combination Resume

For the combination style, you will be able to highly the skills you earned in each job while using the chronological job history format. You will use your skills for the main body of your resume, then follow that with your employment history.

What Else Should I Include in My Resume?

Starting with the heading, you will want to include your contact information such as name, address, phone number, and email address. Be sure you use a professional-sounding email such as your first initial and last name. You will also want to:

Include an objective. This is a sentence or two that describes the type of job you are looking for or applying for and what skills or experiences you have that make you distinctively qualified.

List of qualifications. Create a bulleted list below the objective section. In this section, you will want to include up to five or six lines that highlight the skills you have that make you qualified for the job, such as certifications, experience, and any related training. You can call this list Highlights of Qualifications,

Summary of Experience, or Summary of Skills.

Include Employment History. The format of this will depend on the type of resume you choose to create.

List your training and education. Make a list of the schools, colleges, or military training schools you have attended. Be sure to list the school’s name and the location. You can include the dates, but they are not necessary.
Add special skills. If you have certain computer skills, know any foreign languages, or have other relevant skills that set you apart, be sure to create a special skills section to include them.

How Can I Make My Resume Unique?

Once you’ve created a basic resume, it’s time to tailor the resume to showcase what makes you a qualified and unique candidate for the job. We recommend:

Create a targeted resume.

This means you will change your resume to match the job you are applying for. Look at what the employer is searching for in the right candidate and highlight those skills and qualities on your resume.

Use civilian terms.

Remove any acronyms and use terms that will be easily understood by civilians. You will want to replace phrases such as officer in charge with managing. Think about how you would explain your job to a civilian and rewrite the description for easier understanding.

Highlight your accomplishments.

If possible, use the number to highlight your accomplishments. For example: “managed a budget of $200K” or “Reduced training time from 30 weeks to 28 weeks.”

Keep it short.

You will want to limit your resume to one or two pages.

Add volunteer experience.

If it is relevant to the job, you can add your volunteer experience to the resume to show credibility and character.

Don’t skip the spell check.

You will want to proofread your resume to ensure that everything is spelled correctly and that the resume is accurate. Be sure to also ask a friend to proofread it as well. We also recommend reading it backward to help you catch any grammatical errors or typos.

Avoid adding unnecessary details.

You do not need to include information such as height, weight, religious affiliation, or marital status. You should also avoid putting salary requirements on your resume unless they are requested in the job description.

Don’t Forget Your Cover Letter.

It is crucial to always send a cover letter with your resume. With a cover letter, you can explain why you are interested in the position and show how your skills set you apart and qualify you for the job. The first step in writing a cover letter is to get the name of the person hiring so you can address the letter to them. If the job description doesn’t mention a name, call the company to find out.

Be sure to mention the job you are applying for in the first paragraph of your cover letter. Throughout the letter, you want to focus on how your skills and abilities qualify you for the position and can help the company. It is also important to keep the cover letter to one page in business-letter format. Follow-up is also critical. Mention that you will follow up in your letter and set a reminder to do so.

Employment Services at Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard

Each year, Veterans Place assists hundreds of veterans and their families into sustainable employment working with community partners and the department of labor. We are dedicated to supporting and assisting veterans in obtaining competitive employment. For more information please email us at]

Rob Hamilton

Get Involved

Sign up for our email newsletter and get the latest info on events,
fundraisers and ways to make an impact.

Sign Up