How Can I Utilize Military Experience to Apply For Jobs?

As you think back on your time in the military, you may reflect on the skills you’ve learned and improved, and how to bring those skills into a civilian workplace. There are many transferable skills from your active service that an employer may use to determine your career readiness. Highlighting your career readiness on your résumé is a key component to impressing an employer and moving forward in the application process. Career readiness, as defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), is the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college students for a successful transition into the workplace. There are eight total career competencies that are viewed as essential by employers when considering college graduates for their workplace.

These competencies are:

  1.     Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  2.     Oral/Written Communication
  3.     Teamwork/Collaboration
  4.     Information Technology
  5.     Application Leadership
  6.     Professionalism/Work Ethic
  7.     Career Management
  8.     Global/Intercultural Fluency

Many of these career readiness competencies will be featured through the transferable skills you showcase in the bullet point statements of your résumé. Transferable skills are abilities, attributes, and personal qualities obtained during your study and experiences that you can use across industry lines. It is important to be aware of transferable skills because you will explain how you gained some of those skills during your service in the military, and how those skills can “transfer” to a position that you are applying for. It may be helpful for you to reference this sample military experience résumé on our website to help you build out your own résumé and think about how you can align your military experience with the career readiness competencies that employers are looking for, and which transferable skills you may want to stress for each position.

Taking a look at a bullet point statement from the sample military experience résumé, one of the responsibilities that this applicant had during their active enlistment was “Supervised and trained 12 Marines.” This experience could align with the oral communication career competency or even the teamwork career competency. It is important to provide details in your bullet point statements as to what your task was, how you accomplished your task, and why you accomplished your task, so if you have a similar experience you would like to include in your own résumé, it could be helpful to elaborate on that experience more using the what, how, why structure to really help the reader see how your military experience could be relevant to an employment position. This bullet point statement could be especially important if you apply for a position in management, as you would be required to “supervise” and “train” your employees, much like you did during your military service. However, even if your desired position is not in management, you can still effectively portray that oral communication career competency with this bullet point statement, which is important for any position you may find yourself applying for.

It is important to revise your bullet point statements for each position you apply for. If you read the job description and notice that they emphasize some competencies more than others, then you can emphasize those same competencies in your bullet point statements as well. Having military experience on your résumé provides you with a variety of diverse opportunities and experiences from your time in active service, so you can always prioritize different tasks that you were assigned to perform based on what fits best with the position you are applying for. It may be helpful to create a master résumé first to note down every experience you had during your military service, and then choose the most relevant experiences as they pertain to your desired position.

Using your military experience to apply for civilian jobs can seem daunting if you’re unsure of how that experience can be relevant in the workplace. Know that your time in the active service has provided you with valuable skills that can contribute well to any workplace. If you would like more help or clarification on integrating your military experience on your résumé, please schedule an appointment with a Career Coach at the UConn Center for Career Development to discuss how you can tailor your military experiences to civilian job opportunities.

By Victoria