Career Advice Ex-Forces

How to Write a Successful Ex-Military CV

Paul Brown
24.03.23

Transitioning from a military role to a civilian career may seem a daunting experience, but it really doesn’t have to be. As ex-military personnel, you possess a unique set of skills and experiences that are highly sought-after in the civilian job market.

However, to stand out from the crowd, you need a winning CV that effectively showcases these qualities. At FDM, we are experts in helping ex-forces personnel make a smooth transition into civilian careers and are on hand to provide our top advice on how to write a successful CV, which highlights your military background and sets you up for success. Read on to find out how.

What’s in this article?

Should I include my military service on my CV?

A military career is an impressive aspect of your life and something you should feel proud to include on your civilian CV. During your time in service, you will have acquired a range of transferable skills and had numerous life experiences, which will all be highly valued by employers across a wide range of industries. In fact, it is these skills that may even work to your advantage in a competitive job market.

Read more about the best jobs you can get after the military.

5 CV writing tips for ex-military personnel

Here are five things to consider when writing a CV as an ex-military member:

  1. Understand the employer’s perspective
  2. Showcase your military experience
  3. Be transparent about your education and training
  4. Emphasise your soft skills
  5. Formatting your CV

1. Understand the employer’s perspective

When searching for a job, it can be useful to put yourself in the shoes of your employer to really understand what they are looking for in a candidate. This way, you can use your CV to hone in on the characteristics your potential employer is looking for.

On the flip side, you also need to be mindful of the common misconceptions many employers have about hiring ex-forces. Use this insight to figure out how to educate employers and show your value through your CV. For example, common misconceptions about ex-forces are their lack of specialised training and an inability to adapt, which could not be further from the truth. In fact, ex-forces have a lot to contribute to corporations. So, you need to make sure you include these and explain how they are useful in the workplace.

2. Showcase your military experience

When applying for civilian jobs, it can be difficult to know how to talk about your military service. However, it’s important not to shy away from discussing your time in the service, especially if it’s the only experience you have. You should make sure to talk about your motivations for joining the military and the valuable experiences you’ve gained from it.

When describing your accomplishments and skills, just make sure to translate any military jargon into civilian terms, so your future employers can easily understand how this will be beneficial for their organisation. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your transferable skills and demonstrate how your military experience will be an asset to the workplace, such as leadership, teamwork and problem-solving.

Read more about the top transferable skills for ex-forces and transferable skills from the military to scrum master training.

3. Be transparent about your education and training

Your CV offers an opportunity to highlight your education and training to employers, whether that’s prior to the military, or any skills you’ve gained during your service. Make sure to also list any relevant certifications or licences, such as medic or first aid courses, technical qualifications or leadership and management training.

Where possible, aim to relate your skills and certifications to the role you are applying for. For instance, if you were an Engineer in the army, you are likely to have the required skills to become an Engineer in a civilian setting. Or if you were a high-ranking officer or sergeant, you may be well-suited for a leadership or management role.

You should also mention any security clearance you have as this can provide a significant advantage for jobs that require you to handle sensitive information or classified data. Security checks can take weeks or even months, which means employers are more likely to choose you to save time and reduce costs!

Finally, you can include skills you may think seem trivial as they are not related to your role, such as a driving licence or proficiency in a foreign language. You never know what might pique the interest of your employers and set you apart from other candidates!

4. Emphasise your soft skills

In addition to technical or specialised skills, soft skills are also invaluable for almost any job and are transferable to many civilian careers. As such, you should aim to list your soft skills and provide examples of how they help you in a professional environment.

Soft skills are personal attributes and qualities that enable you to work effectively as part of a team, communicate your ideas, and adapt to changing situations. Strong soft skills indicate that you will make a valuable contribution to the organisation and its teams. They are especially important in today’s workplace, where teamwork and collaboration are key to success, particularly with the new norm of remote working models.

Employers are typically looking for soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, adaptability, decision-making, problem-solving, leadership, creativity, time management, emotional intelligence, resourcefulness – the list goes on. You are likely to have learned a handful, if not all, of these skills from your military career!

5. Formatting your CV

The flow of your CV should follow the general resume-writing best practices, beginning with a concise summary of yourself, then delving into your experiences, skills, education and qualifications, followed by any personal information.

However, customising your CV based on the type of job you are applying for can help you impress employers and show them you are the right person for the job. Our top tips for tailoring your CV is to first carefully read the job specification and identify the relevant skills for the job. You can then alter your professional summary, reorder your skills and experience to prioritise the most relevant aspects, and use appropriate keywords taken directly from the job listing.

If you need more advice on how to format your ex-military CV for a civilian role, check out our guide to writing a CV with no experience.

Key takeaways

Taking the leap into a civilian career is an exciting time of your life and the civilian workforce is full of roles suited to your skill sets, particularly in the technology sector. In fact, the digital skills gap is growing and employers are looking for determined candidates to join their teams. Could this be the opportunity for you?

At FDM, we are committed to supporting ex-forces to kickstart their civilian careers, no matter your service rank or previous background. The FDM Ex-Forces Programme is designed to help make the transition as seamless as possible, offering you expert training and military-specific support programmes to help you land a job with our industry-leading clients – without any prior technical experience!

Whether you’re interested in project management or cloud computing, we’ll help you build your professional portfolio and lay the foundation for long-term career success. Are you ready to make the transition from a military to a civilian career? Check out the FDM Ex-Forces Careers Programme to find out how we can help, or get in touch for more information.

If you’re in the United States, check out our Veterans Careers Program today or Contact Us to find out more.