Useful Information

Out of Uniform: CV Tips for Making the Transition

You are leaving the service and are faced with the daunting task of developing your CV. No doubt your military career is studded with accomplishments, but even the most decorated veteran needs to work out how to make the transition to a civilian position. Follow these to draft a high-impact CV that shows how your military experience is transferable to acivilian job.

Define your Civilian Job Objective

You can't effectively market yourself for a civilian job if you don't have a clearly defined goal. Because so many service people have diverse backgrounds, they often make the mistake of creating CVs that are too general to be effective. Before writing your CV, do some soul searching, research occupations and pinpoint a specific career path. If you are having any trouble with this step, tap into your local Resettlement Centre or solicit help of a career coach. If you are torn between two or more potential goals, set up different CVs each.

Create a CV That Speaks to the Employer's Needs

Now that your objective is defined, you are ready to create a winning CV. Consider a CV's purpose: To answer the employer's question, "What can this person do for me?"

A good way to start thinking about employer's needs is to research your target job. Search for jobs, scour company websites and read as many job postings as possible. What types of skills and experiences are employers seeking? What aspect of your background is most relevant?

Any information that does not relate to your goal should be eliminated or de-emphasised, and this includes any unrelated military awards, training and distinctions. For example, that medal you won for rifle marksmanship doesn't belong on a civilian CV. This is often the hardest step for ex-military personnel, which is why it is so common to see military CVs spanning five pages or more. As you decide which information to include, ask yourself, "Will a potential employer care about this experience?" Only include information that will help you land an interview.

You may bring a lot of those distinctions to the interview, ready to discuss them and even mention in a cover letter that, if the employer wishes, you'll be happy to discuss military commendations in details. Later, if you discover during a job interview that the person across the table has a military background, a separate sheet listing military achievements can be an influential leave-behind.

Translate Your Skills

Express your skills in cutting-edge lingo. Make sure you translate your MOs into civilian skills.

As you are developing your CV, it is crucial that you do not use military acronyms, slang, jargon or terms.

Civilian employers just do not understand military terminology.

Here are some guidelines to overcome the translation problem:

  • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations. Write out the terms and, when necessary, explain them
  • For specialised military training, list the names and dates of the professional and technical courses you have taken: however also attempt to translate it into civilian terminology
  • Use a line or two to describe or list some of the topics studied in the course that may be pertinent to the job you are applying for. For example, write "Management of Supervision" as the course title. Then add the course content(course objectives) i.e. equal opportunity, giving directions, etc.

As translating your military skills can be critical to get the job you want, you may find it helpful to pay to get help on your CV. There are a wealth of companies who are specialised in this area and you can find them easily on the internet using Google.

Using Your Personal Development Record

Former military personnel have one advantage over their civilian counterparts: Personal Development Records. Use them! Each evaluation should describe your duties, the number of people you were responsible for, and will point out bulleted, performance-related results. Use these results to sell yourself. Employers need to see accomplishments that they can relate to with regard to the open position. The hiring manager will want to know "What can this individual do for me?"

When it comes to getting a job, past performance is the best indicator of future success.

This is what you need to do:

QUANTIFY -Describe what you accomplished with numbers and percentages. Explain how many times annually, what percentage of increase or decrease you produced, how large a group you supervised or trained or the actual value of equipment under your guidance. Here are some examples:

  • Supervised 14 member staff
  • Produced 150% over quota for eight consecutive months
  • Resulted in £250,000 savings
  • Administered travel budget of £15 million
  • Reduced inventory loss by 20%
  • Developed training program for a 600 person organisation

Your CV SHOULD have this type of action oriented success.

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