Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Armed Forces commissioned officers and NCO's are known for their discipline, leadership, attention to detail and ability to succeed in challenging and austere environments, as well as a vast range of transferrable soft, functional and technical skills. But how do you structure, present and sell these skills and experience to a civilian employer?
Preparing a modern CV is a task you should take as seriously and personal branding is a must in the 21st century. Modern CV writing requires knowledge of applicant tracking systems (ATS), sales techniques, search engine optimisation (SEO) and influential writing style techniques. In today's job market you are up against tough, experienced and highly qualified competition and you only get one shot at your first impression.
Whilst your CV will not get you a job it can open the door to an interview and also support you during the interview.
So what makes a good CV? Is there anything you should pay particular attention to as a military jobseeker? Ever wondered how to write a CV?
1. Use an ATS Friendly CV Format
Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) friendly layout, with clear section titles, such as Profile, Key Skills, Career Achievements, Career History, Early Career, Education, Training, IT Skills, Personal Details and Recommendations. If you apply for a position through a corporate career portal or job board you are dealing with an ATS. An algorithm will scan your CV and score you based on your match to the job specification. Typically recruiters have these systems pre-filter candidates and only
2. Link your military experience to the job description
Your CV should be targeted to the position you are applying for, and should only include information relevant to that role. For example, there is no value in telling the employer that you can organise and control a live firing exercise unless its relevant to the role responsibilities. Use language that anyone can understand and create your profile with a value proposition statement (who you are professionally, what you're expert at delivering, who for and what kind of environments) then follow this with 4-5 key strengths that align with your new direction / job specification.
2. Identify your skills
‘Transferable skills’ are often talked about and no doubt you have loads to offer. You want your CV to demonstrate that the skills picked up during your military career can help you make a smooth transition into civilian life. Behavioural-based skills are hard to substantiate so focus on useful functional skills like:
Training Design & Delivery
3. Translate your job titles
Many civilian employers are not familiar with military terms or with what your military job title means. Avoid military jargon and language and show how the training and experience you gained in the military is relevant to the vacancy you are applying for. Unless you are targeting positions with the government, if you work in administration, administrative titles will be appropriate. If your position has a military focus (e.g. Logistics Specialist), you want to concentrate on the functional aspects of the title — specialist, manager, coordinator, etc. Consider the following examples:
Generals, Colonels: Managing Director / CEO / Board Level C-Suite Positions
Majors, Captains, Lieutenants: Department Head / Regional Manager
Warrant Officer Class I / II (WO1 / WO2): Senior Manager / Operations Manager
Sergeants, Corporals, Lance Corporals: Manager / Team Leader / Supervisor
Privates: Technicians / Team Members / Operators
4. Translate military jargon
As well as your job title, you should also look at how you could translate other military terms. For example: