Monday, December 20, 2010

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 2 – “Demilitarize” Your Resume

No matter how qualified you may be, if a potential employer can not decipher your resume, comprehend your military skills and experience, and understand the value you offer, you will not get calls for interviews. In teaching thousands of military service members from all branches of the military, I have learned they find the task of translating their skills to civilian terms the most challenging step.

To begin, you must strip away the military language and acronyms in order to highlight your skills in your resume. Many of the people who will screen or read your resume have no concept of military life. It is your job to provide a clear understanding of the relevant skills and experience you gained in the military. Most military experience transfers easily to the corporate world with the right language.

Instead of: Acted as the battalion secretary to create schedules for the unit.

Translate to: Created calendars and organized training schedules for 150+ personnel.

Instead of: Achieved FMC rate of 88% and 98% scheduling effectiveness rate.

Translate to: Maintained critical equipment availability 6% above USAF standards. Managed time effectively to ensure 98% of all scheduled maintenance was completed on-time.

Additionally, many military job titles are meaningless in the civilian world. Do your research to determine what potential employers are calling the positions for which you are qualified. Take the following example of how you can translate the USAF First Sergeant duty title. Employee Relations Manager (First Sergeant), United States Air Force. As you can see, the official title is still included on the resume, we just highlighted the “civilianized” job title by bolding it.

There are some very useful resources available on the Internet. Here are a few:

O*NET ( – Offers the Crosswalk Search by entering your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Navy Rating, or Air Force Military Occupation Code (MOC).

Army COOL and Navy COOL ( or ( – Works in connection with the Occupational Outlook Handbook to provide detailed career information.

Verification of Military Education and Training (VMET) ( – Provides detailed information about your current position and related civilian career fields.

America’s CareerInfoNet ( – Serves as a military to civilian occupational translator and provides labor market information by state.

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