3 Elements to Avoid in Your Post-Military Résumé

Preparing and creating a quality résumé can take on an entirely different spin when you are a military veteran seeking employment in the private sector for the first time.  While many of the same rules do apply (see our recent article, “Outstanding Résumés and How to Write Them”), there are a few fundamentals that post-military personnel should keep in mind while résumé-writing.

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Here is an overview of certain pitfalls to avoid when preparing a résumé for the civilian workforce:

  1. Avoid replicating your billet description.  Although your assignments, duties, and positions held while in the military are to be commended, steer clear of copy/pasting the complete text of your billet description directly into your résumé.  Instead, draw upon specific skills and expertise you gained in the armed forces that may relate to the civilian job or field with which you’re seeking employment.
  1. Avoid overly jargonized text. Keep in mind that your résumé is going to be read by civilians, most likely HR reps and hiring managers who likely do not have any military experience whatsoever.  Explaining your military duties is fine, but exchanging the military jargon for “civilian descriptives” will ensure that your résumé gets the consideration it deserves.
  1. Avoid information relating to personal affiliations.  While indications of awards and group memberships are perfectly fine, do not include any information that reveals your race, ethnicity, religious background or political party affiliations, etc.  Unfortunately, precarious, “hot button” topics such as these can cause employers to sidestep your résumé altogether.

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With these tips in mind, what else should veterans keep in mind when creating a résumé? 

Well, proofreading is certainly a non-negotiable.  However, other aspects, such as keeping a clean and simple format, not exceeding two pages (even better if you can reduce it to one page), and making sure your contact information (including your email address) is clear and current, are among the basics which will help give your résumé a professional and competitive edge.

For sample résumés and downloadable templates, websites such as ResumeGenius can offer some great resources for all first time-time résumé writers.


Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.