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Military to Civilian Resume: Part 2, Expand your Skills List

by Peter Marx

So far, you've compiled a chronological list of your transferable job skills derived from your military working history and your DD2586. It's OK if it contains military jargon. It's important here that you create your chronological list first, simply based on your history. If you don't, you may be overlooking things that you did on active duty that might not be included in the Department of Labor standards we'll be using.

Now you can start adding skills you didn't know you had and also begin to start translating some of those military terms into civilian language.

Go to
  1. Choose "Find an Occupation"
  2. Enter a "Keyword" that describes your career field.
  3. Select the most appropriate job title for your experience.
  4. Read both the "Summary" and "Details" lists.

In those lists, you will see the required skills for that occupation. If your keyword was "logistics", you would see "Logistician" as the first job title. When you proceed to the "Summary" tab for Logistician, you will see the bullet

  • protect and control proprietary materials,

Here's the process:
Ask yourself if you know how to protect and control proprietary materials. If you do, go back to the original chronological list you've already written to ensure that particular skill is on your list. If it isn't, then simply cut and paste it to your list. If you wrote something similar, but this is better language than yours, just change it to the better language. This is where military jargon can be changed to the words with which civilian employers are familiar.

I'm sure you will come across many skills that you possess but forgot to include on your list. Is your list growing? You can go back and choose another related title under "keyword" later, just to make sure you haven't missed any skills from a related title like Transportation Manager or Shipping and Receiving Clerk, which could contain more specific skills for you to add to your resume.

The next place to find more skills for your list is the Internet. Go to job posting boards and search for your job title as an ad for currently open jobs. Geography makes no difference here. Review the "Duties Required" section of those ads just to make sure you haven't missed any more transferable skills or to catch up on current requirements or buzzwords.

Once you've gone through all the related titles for your occupation you should now have a list of virtually all your transferable skills for a new resume. Now all you have to do is make sure each list is in priority order with the most important skills listed first.

This is also the time to remove any military specific terms or acronyms that are left on your list. Either spell them out, as long as that clearly articulates what you're talking about or translate them to civilian English.

For example:

Supervised 5 NCOIC's becomes Supervised 2 Department Managers and 3 Section Leaders, and

Reported to the Squadron Commander becomes Reported to the Senior Administrator.

Next time we'll add Education/Training and Awards/Achievements.