Military Resume Samples, Template & Writing Guide for 2024

The US military provides life and work experience training far superior to most casual jobs. However, returning to civilian life after a successful military career can be daunting and overwhelming for many Veterans. Whether you've served in the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, Army, or Coast Guard, retaining a high-paying civilian job will require a well-written and engaging Military resume.

Let's begin by breaking down a common myth – writing a resume with military experience is NO different than any other resume. You're not required to comply with any DOD writing standards, do not have to disclose your specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), or only need to include your previous military work history.

In fact, the main concern for former US service members typically breaks down to learning how to list military service on a resume. This is where reviewing some previous military resume examples or using military resume templates will significantly help US service members enter the civilian workforce. This is what we intend on accomplishing in the information below.

This article will provide the ultimate guide to drafting a military skills resume. We'll provide you with a few military resume examples (one from an enlisted Navy veteran) and one from an Army officer. We will explain how to include military service on resume example documents, how to write a military resume in general and some creative ways of adding military service resume keywords.

Let's get started on creating your civilian resume post military job career.

Military Resume Example

As you begin transferring to civilian life, it's a great idea to start focusing on industries that will permit you to showcase the skills and abilities you learned during your enlistment. This should be the first item on your post-military career path.

After you've compiled a list of three or four possible employment segments, you can start to flesh out your first resume. Then you can use that base resume as a template to create industry-specific resumes if you choose. We'll explain this strategy in the content below.

The two military resume samples posted below are diverse examples of how to format your resume for specific jobs. The first example is a US Navy Petty Officer 2nd class – a fire controlman (FC) specializing in the CWIS fire control system. The second is one of our US Army resume examples from an officer who worked with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Let's review both and highlight how our team of professional resume writers tackled their resume writing project.

Navy Fire Controlman Resume Sample

The first resume is for PO2 Jackson Stewart, who recently completed his enlistment contract in the United States Navy. As an FC, he was trained to maintain, repair, and operate advanced weapons systems, such as the Mark-15 Close-In Weapons System or CIWS (commonly known as the R2-D2). Like all other resumes, his begins with an easy-to-review personal contact information section that includes his legal name, phone number, email, and mailing address.

As you continue with the resume, you'll notice his resume summary, which is directly under his contact information. This section is a general overview of his qualifications and desire to join a specific job – or explore opportunities in an industry. In this case, the primary skill he learned during his Naval career was as an electrician.

In fact, you'll notice in the first sentence that he has earned his certified electrician apprentice in The State of California and is hoping to join the team at Sparky's Electrical Service in the same capacity. He has selected the electrical trade, as his MOS taught him the basics and advanced electrical diagnostics and repairs. This gives him the core skills and training to become a certified tradesman electrician.

Further in Jackson's resume, you'll notice that he has created a Summary of Qualifications section. Here he has listed some essential qualifications that will make him a great member of Sparky's team. Some of these include his security clearance (mainly added to showcase his trust and reliability), his ability to respond to emergency situations such as being first aid and CPR certified, electrical training, and his current certification in the State of California.

You will notice his work history section as you continue with the resume. Here he has notated some of the specific job duties and critical areas of responsibility (without disclosing OPSEC details). He continues to list his education, including graduating from C-School (which provided him the practical training to earn his apprenticeship.

Finally, he has provided a few references, including his commanding officer during his last deployment on the USS Roosevelt. The resume concludes with several skills related to the electrical industry.

US Army Officer Resume Sample

Military Resume Example

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Our second resume sample is for Major Peter Jacobs, who recently retired from the US Army after 15 years of service to his country. His specialty is mechanical engineering, having graduated with a master's degree in Mechanical Engineering before enlisting in the US Army. His resume follows a similar pattern and format as our Naval candidate above. However, there are a few subtle differences to notice.

Major Jacobs has expertise in mechanical engineering and served as an officer for 15 years, so he has chosen to seek an operational management position for a company that manufactures automotive aftermarket components in San Diego.

Like PO2 Stewart, he has written a customized resume summary for the company he hoped to join. However, he showcases some of his key accomplishments as a leader vs. general skills and experience. This continues into his Summary of Qualifications and Work Experience sections.

One takeaway from these two sample military resumes is that you should always create a resume for specific employment opportunities. While we strongly recommend writing a resume summary for each job application, it's more important to write resumes targeted to specific industries.

Let's briefly provide a bit of a curveball with Major Jacob's resume. With his leadership experience, he could have written his resume for different management positions in multiple industries where his engineering education and training would be applicable.

The same statement applies to PO2 Stewart's resume. He also was trained in mechanical repairs, so he could have focused his resume on jobs requiring specific skills and traits – such as repairing mechanical equipment.

The critical point we're trying to articulate here is that you'll find better success in gaining an interview when you write resumes for specific industries vs. a general overview of your experience. Plus, you can write a detailed resume that fits nicely on one page.

How to Write a Military Resume in 2024: Full Guide to Successful Military Service Resumes

When transitioning from military service to civilian employment, you must showcase the skills, abilities, and qualities you possess in every resume you draft. One significant advantage of military personnel over standard civilians is the work/life skills you learn during enlistment.

This begins in basic training, where you learn discipline, how to follow procedures, organization, the importance of teamwork, and paying attention to details. You'll also develop a solid work ethic, learn how to problem solve, and maintain a clean and safe work environment.

These are considered hard and soft skills – or the abilities you possess that make you a great worker. They are also keywords or action verbs searched by automated applicant tracking systems often used with hiring agencies or online job search engines.

However, inserting the right buzz terms alone will not dazzle a hiring manager or job recruiter. Setting the right tone from the outset, building a case of your qualifications, and supporting your application with evidence throughout the resume is a great way to stand ahead of the competition.

Every military resume should be concise, well-organized, and easy to follow. Although specific industries and employment segments might request different information to be included on your resume, most should include the following sections.

  • Personal Contact Information
  • Professional Summary
  • Summary of Qualifications
  • Work History
  • Education
  • Certifications (if applicable)
  • References
  • Skills

One way to organize this project is to create a master resume – or a working document that permits you to write down every detail in all sections, fine-tune the content, and make appropriate edits. Plus, you can optimize the content for grammatical errors by using an online editing program called Grammarly.

So – if you're ready to learn how to create each section of your military or National Guard resume, let's get started with the specifics.

Section #1 – List Your Contact Information

It's critical to demonstrate outstanding attention to detail for any former military member. This will start when you document your up-to-date contact information at the beginning of your resume. You should include your complete legal name, email address, mailing address, and mobile phone for every post-military resume. There is no need to publish your social media pages like Facebook or LinkedIn on your contact information.

Ensure your phone is linked to your email so you can respond promptly when a recruiter or potential employer directly contacts you. Having your mobile number is crucial because many recruiters send SMS text messages to candidates to keep them up to date on the status of their applications.

*Specific Military Resume Tip: Here is something specifically applicable for future job candidates preparing to end their military service as they draft resumes. Hopefully, you've established where to move after your service contract ends. Also, make sure to update your cover letter as well.

If this information is up in the air (mainly with your physical address) - select a family member or close friend who will permit you to use their address - until you are settled. Once you have a permanent address, make sure to change your resume to update that information.

How to Format this Section

When you employ a resume template, the resume format is handled for you. Suppose you want to create a military resume by hand. In that case, we recommend including all contact information at the top of your document. This will help HR professionals contact you if your resume attracts their attention.

Section #2 – Professional Summary 

The professional summary or resume overview is the section that allows you to pitch your expertise and qualifications to a future employer. This four- to five-sentence paragraph introduces you to the hiring managers or recruiting agency.

You'll want to include the relevant skills and attributes that candidates in the employment industry or career you seek possess. This is where specific examples of different industries will provide us with practical samples of how to format this section.

Electrician Resume Summary 

Let's carefully examine PO2 Stewart's professional summary. He introduces his Naval experience, current electrician apprentice certification, and desire to join a specific company. This type of personal attention to detail is a great way to separate yourself from other potential candidates.

As you continue with his summary, you'll notice that he mentions his core comprehension of circuitry, electrical panels, and electrical testing and diagnostics equipment. He further introduces his interpersonal skills - or those that make him a trustworthy employee, team member and dedicated to safety. A lot of these requirements will be posted on a job description. So, if you’re going to write a customized resume, read the job posting carefully.

Operations Manager Resume Summary

Maj. Jacobs resume summary follows a similar structure. Open with a personalized desire to join the team and support the candidacy by explaining your qualifications. However, the main difference between this sample resume summary and PO2 Stewart's is Maj. Jacobs showcases key leadership accomplishments.

When looking for a leadership or management position fresh out of the military, you need to articulate that you have the experience and interpersonal leadership skills that will permit you to hit the ground running. This has been accomplished by both candidates.

How to Format this Section

Always keep your professional summary short, sweet, and to the point. It should be simple to read paragraph, about 150 to 200 words, with a professional – yet conversational tone. Consider the professional summary as your elevator pitch. Read it aloud before you paste it into a resume template.

Section #3 – Summary of Qualifications

Your ability to articulate why you're qualified for this position on the resume can help your resume stand out ahead of others. The summary of qualifications section is a bullet-point pile of evidence that helps start building your case as the best candidate for any job you seek.

You can see in Maj. Jacob's sample resume showed that he has 15 years of leadership experience, specifically with the US Army Corps of Engineers in mechanical engineering. His summary of qualifications showcases some of his specific qualifications as a leader in this industry.

This is the key to fleshing out this section of your resume. Pick the top 5 to 6 specific qualifications you possess that will put you ahead of other candidates.

How to Format this Section

You'll see that the best military resume samples include a bullet-point-driven section near the top that emphasizes their skills - or a summary of qualifications. This is a well-structured area with the essentials required. Simply list your experience in bullet points here. It makes it simple to read and allows you to take advantage of some of the above mentioned terms.

One bonus tip is to review the job posting to find out what qualifications they are seeking in a candidate. This will guide you on which qualifications you should consider listing on your resume.

Section #4 – Employment History

It's entirely possible that you don't have much relevant job experience in the field you want to pursue after your military career. However, this isn't always the case. That said, the employment history portion of your resume must demonstrate your abilities and talents that will be displayed at a company that chooses to hire you.

If you have previous experience, make sure to list your job responsibilities that are relevant to the application. For example, they must document those achievements if they are searching for a manager with experience in the automotive sector, working with engineers, and creating solutions that improve efficiency.

Using previous job experience where you've displayed leadership qualities is highly recommended. This is what Maj. Jacobs has done this in the sample section above. He focuses on introducing some of the key leadership tasks that a US Army officer is tasked to complete with every post of command. However, since he is applying to an automotive manufacturing company, he also showcases some of his expertise in mechanical engineering.

How to Format this Section

The most crucial aspect of your employment history is what you have recently or presently done. Each related entry should be listed in reverse chronological sequence. Always include your employer's name, the dates you worked for them, and significant areas of responsibility or accomplishments to help support your case for being a fantastic employee.

Section #5 – Education

Most job candidates with military experience apply for civilian positions after completing their contracts. It's also common for recently retired military to attend college to gain an education and take advantage of GI bill benefits. The education section permits candidates to list their highest completed education. However, if the position you're seeking is looking for candidates currently enrolled in college, it would be encouraged to list that education.

You'll notice that Maj. Jacobs has listed his mechanical engineering degree and his graduation from Officer Candidate School. This is to add to his leadership experience, as that is one of the biggest reasons for OCS in the first place.

How to Format this Section

The education section should be written in a chronological format - with your current or most-recent education listed first. You are not required to add any specialty courses, GPA, or other details – unless the job posting asks for this data.

Section #6 – References

References are individuals who can speak to your work ethic, expertise, and leadership abilities. For military members, they are typically former commanding officers, NCOs, or other peers that served with you.

With civilian job resumes, it's always best to select two professional references – or one professional reference and a personal reference. This is what PO2 Stewart has listed on his resume. You'll notice that his first reference is his former CO. The second reference is a personal reference, a business owner who is also a family friend and is involved in the commercial construction industry.

How to Format This Section

Best practices for references on Navy or Army military resumes are to include the individual name and their place of employment. You don't want to document their contact information on a resume for privacy reasons. Simply write "available on request" so the HR firm or hiring agency can contact them directly.

Section #7 - Skills

When it comes to a position that requires extensive education, including your talents on your CV is more of a formality than a must-have inclusion. However, since it's good practice to include it with your engineering resume, why not take advantage of automated applicant tracking system software?

When you review the sample resume posted above, you'll notice that Maj. Jacobs has listed six relevant skills in his job search. These include process management, AutoCad expertise, Problem Solving, Organization, OSHA Compliance, and Attention to Detail. He mainly focuses on his leadership skills or engineering-specific talents.

How to Format this Section

We recommend that you list your talents in a bullet point format. Using a resume builder or template is an excellent method to arrange and customize your skills section. The skills can be displayed in one of two locations: at the bottom of your CV, in one of the side columns, or towards the end of your resume.

Related Resume Templates

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When you're in the process of writing your military experience resume, it's always a good idea to gather some practical tips by reviewing other resume samples. We've created multiple professionally written resumes that we invite you to review before starting your own resume.

Final Points on Crafting Effective Army Military Resumes

Any resume intends to provide a blueprint or road map that guides a hiring manager through your story. As a military member, your primary task is to build an argument with your resume – from start to finish – as to why you're the best candidate for this competitive job.

Always remember – a final resume should always be written and customized for the specific job you're applying to. For this reason, we recommend using a master resume to edit and personalize your content.

Here are some specific tips.

  • Make sure the resume has a smooth flow – from start to finish. Each section should lead to the next.
  • Always write your resume on a plain white background with black font.
  • Edit the document SEVERAL TIMES – through Grammarly or another good online editing tool and through visual inspection.
  • Ensure it's well-spaced, organized, and professional.
  • Finally, read it aloud a few times before you're ready to paste the content into a military resume template.

By following these tips above, you can write a military resume that is clean, organized, and attention-grabbing. Make sure to take your time, sprinkle those action verbs throughout your resume (for software optimization), and feel free to have a few peers (specifically a commanding officer or NCO) review the content before you finish.

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