As a hiring manager, I have had the opportunity to review numerous military veteran resumes. In many instances, I was not aware that I was reading a resumé prepared by someone who had served in the military. Even when I discovered the person I was interviewing was in the military, the resumé lacked any reference to military service. I believe this is a mistake on the veteran’s part, since it leaves out the very skills hiring managers are looking for: teamwork, dependability, leadership, and, most importantly, that they had served in the military.
One reason veterans may leave off their military service from their resumés is the advice they receive from peers and online resumé-writing services. While both can be good sources of advice, it is important for veterans to incorporate some military aspect of their job history.
Another source of misinformation comes from employers themselves. Many employers have difficulty translating a potential employee’s military skills to civilian skills. Many veterans leave their military service off of their resumes because they are afraid of negative stereotypes that might come into play, such as PTSD, and the opinion of some employers that veterans are too formal and adhere to rigid standards and policies.
Because there is much misinformation and inconsistent advice about how to prepare a resumé, veterans preparing to leave the service are just as confused as those individuals who help them in their job search. It is good to know that, while this confusion exists, a number of top companies like Capitol One, Disney, JPMorgan Chase, and Deloitte are actively seeking hundreds of thousands of military veterans.
What should veterans do?
First, most employers don’t understand military acronyms, military occupational specialties, or military specific terminology. It is important to find a balance between the title and description of what you did in the service and the skills and experience that the prospective employer needs.
Second, it is a good idea to find someone in the industry to which you are applying to review your resumé to determine if you have chosen relevant terminology.
Lastly, and I think most importantly, don’t be afraid to put your military rank and service on your resumé. It is the most identifiable characteristic that validates that you were in the service.
About the Author
John Aldrich is the associate vice president for military and community college outreach at American Military University (AMU). John’s past assignments for AMU include serving as director for military outreach, west region senior manager for military outreach, and education coordinator, California and Hawaii.
Prior to joining AMU, he served as an education services specialist for Marine Corps Base Twenty-Nine Palms California; director of career services and job placement at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort, South Carolina; education specialist for Navy College Programs, Sicily, Italy; academic advisor for undecided students and student athletes at the University of Rhode Island; and as a Naval Hospital Corpsman, Fleet Marine Forces.
John earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences and Services and a Master of Science in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island.