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Military Resume Example & Writing Guide

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Military Resume Example & Writing Guide
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Joining the military is a life-changing experience. Your motivation may be patriotism, career opportunity or education, but regardless of your reasons, you are choosing to serve your country. Members of the military may have civilian training in a profession or be enlisting directly out of high school. In either case, your resume must demonstrate a devotion to your country, as well as exceptional personal traits. This military resume example and guide will help you do just that.

Resume.io offers resume guides and resume examples for 250+ professions, including the military, plus an easy-to-use resume builder. Our resources will help you confidently express yourself and land a position in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. 

This resume guide, along with the corresponding military resume example will cover the following topics:

  • What are the opportunities for military personnel?
  • How to write a military resume
  • The best format for a military resume sample
  • Advice on each section of your resume (summary, work history, education, skills)
  • Professional resume layout and design hints.

What do military personnel do?

The answer to the question “What do military personnel do,” can’t be answered in a few sentences because military personnel do almost any job you can imagine.

Across all branches of the military, more than 137,000 members are combat specialists, but that is not the largest category of professions. The top spot goes to engineering, science and technical personnel with more than 153,000 workers and vehicle and machinery mechanics at almost 151,000 positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Expert tip

Special Corps  

Here are just some specialized roles you may choose in different military branches.

Army:

  • Cyber technology
  • Band
  • Chaplain Corp
  • Law (Judge Advocate General--JAG--Corp)
  • Health care
  • Special forces
  • Rangers
  • Linguist

Navy

  • Aviation rescue swimmer
  • Information systems technician
  • Physician
  • Nuclear operations
  • Nursing
  • Cryptography
  • Aviator

Air Force

  • Space
  • Arts and humanities
  • Dentistry
  • Natural science
  • Mental health
  • Future technologies

Marines

  • Personnel and administration
  • Intelligence
  • Infantry
  • Logistics

Coast Guard

  • Aviation maintenance technician
  • Marine science technician
  • Public affairs specialist
  • Aviation survival technician

Military job market and outlook

Although the labor bureau does not make projections on military force numbers because these numbers depend on the world stage as well as governmental and political factors, it does, however, predict that the job market and outlook for military professionals should be very good through 2028.

The Army also employs more than 330,000 people in its Civilian Corp. These workers provide non-combat support to soldiers and lists budget and finance, contracting and cyberspace as areas of high need. It also categorizes civil and mechanical engineering, auditing, human resources, mathematics, nursing, natural resource management, biological sciences, physical science, chemistry and information technology management as “urgent hiring” needs.

How to write a military resume

Writing your military resume should follow the same basic format as all other resumes. It should consist of the following sections:

  • The resume header
  • The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
  • The employment history section
  • The resume skills section
  • The education section

Since the military is a strictly ordered and regimented career choice, your resume should reflect that with a professional and neutral tone. This is not the place to get flowery with your language. Instead, choose your words carefully and be concise.To help you create the correct tone, take a look at recruitment literature and websites and try to echo the writing style.

Although you will not be applying to many different organizations, you should still make sure you tailor your resume for the specific military job you seek.

Choosing the best resume format for military personnel

The best resume format for military personnel depends a bit on where you are in your career. If you are applying for a detailed, technical or scientific role, you may consider using the functional resume format. This format allows you to emphasize important niche or complex skills and competencies rather than your work history. This type of resume will have a larger than usual skills section with detailed explanations and a very diminished employment history. The combination resume format takes the best from both worlds and can be implemented in various ways (niche IT specialists sometimes use this type of document).

Most job hunters will be best served by the reverse chronological order resume format. Candidates who are new to the workforce can check out the resume formats we suggest as chronological alternatives or hybrids. Those who already have careers and are looking to join a specialized military corp or the civilian corp may also get value from these ideas.

Resume summary example: enlist your writing ability

Your resume summary is the spot to answer the very important question: Why do you want to join the military and what do you hope to get out of it? Equally as important is your answer to the question: What will you bring to the military?

While maintaining your professional tone, you need to show your desire to serve your country to recruiters and answer those questions. You should also include your proudest achievement to illustrate that you know how to work hard to reach a goal.  All of this information must be imparted in 3-5 lines of text.

Read the military resume example text below for ideas.

Adaptable summary example

Dedicated Military member with a decorated career safely planning and executing hundreds of military operations. Successfully piloted many combat missions, bringing supplies to troops and those in need. Experienced in training other military personnel and future Officers. Driven and enthusiastic, with the ability to manage projects and people. Dedicated to serving others for the well-being of the greater good.

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Employment history resume sample: your march of progress

Reverse chronological order is a great way to demonstrate your career progress within your employment history and it is the most commonly used resume sample format. If you are choosing to enlist right out of high school, this section will be short, but remember that part-time or volunteering you worked at during school tells recruiters that you can handle responsibility and care about your community.

Your employment history gives recruiters a detailed look at what you have accomplished and how. A simple list of responsibilities is not as powerful as a recounting of how you have solved problems or created benefit for your employers. Try to illustrate a progression of knowledge and responsibilities from your first job on. If you are changing careers (from a police officer position, for example), include the skills and accomplishments that best demonstrate your value to the military. 

Expert tip

Use the CAR method to create your bullet points by spelling out a challenge, explaining the action you took to solve it, and using data or details to tell the results you achieved.

Use our customizable military resume example text to get you started.

Adaptable employment history example
  • Served in coherence with military practices and exhibited honor, and dedication.
  • Performed night patrols in assigned areas.
  • Handled combat missions with expertise and precision.
  • Served as a committed and reliable member of a team.
  • Resolved crisis situations and aimed to uphold safety, law, and order.
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CV skills example: boost your rank

The skills section of your CV may seem redundant, but it is actually very important, so you must curate it carefully. It is here that you choose the top skills that recruiters seek and the ones that you believe will best represent what you bring to the table. Recruiters see hundreds of resume examples so yours needs to stand out with high-level and targeted skills.

Military personnel must exhibit more than technical job skills. Dependability, understanding and following orders, precision and calm under pressure are all necessary to be successful in the armed forces. Don’t neglect these attributes, known as soft skills, in favor of the hard skills you have learned along the way in related positions such as security guard. Instead, find a good mix.

Expert tip

Brainstorm every skill or attribute that you have. Then choose your top 5-7 based on what your branch of the military and the position you are targeting ask for.

Use the military resume sample text below to guide you.

Adaptable skills example section
  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Integrity
  • Leadership Skills
  • Commitment to Justice
  • Physical Endurance
  • Teamwork Skills
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Military resume education example

The education section is the most rigid in your military resume. Simply list all your degrees and certifications here. If you have earned any honors or distinctions, note them here as well. 

It is not necessary to list your high school diploma if you have a master’s degree or higher.

Expert tip

Value-add sections

If you are a scientist or other professional who has published papers in your field, you should include a Publications section.

Other sections to consider are Affiliations and Memberships or Accolades.

Remember to keep your military resume to no more than two pages.

Here is resume example formatting for your education section.

Adaptable education example
  • 2014-2015 United States Army Military Police School
  • 2010-2014 United States Military Academy, Bachelor of Psychology West Point, NY
  • 2006-2010 Hunter High School, High School Diploma NY, NY
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Resume layout and design: crisp as a military march

Do my layout and design really matter when I have a great career story? Yes, they do. Why? You’re reading this guide because you want the best resume possible. That means considering how the document looks as well as the information you impart. Think about military parades. Nothing is out of place and personnel march in lockstep. Your resume design needs to give the same feeling.

Here are some pointers for making that happen:

Do
  • Use one-inch margins all around
  • Keep the font simple and legible
  • Spice it up just a bit with a standout contact section; you definitely want recruiters to be able to get ahold of you easily
Don't
  • Submit without using an online resume builder that includes spellcheck or have a friend proofread
  • Forget that our road-tested resume templates have great designs to eliminate any formatting worries.

Key takeaways for a military resume

  • The military offers a great range of career options for everyone from recent high school graduates to those who have established careers (as security officers for example.)
  • Make sure you let recruiters know why you want to enlist and what you will bring to the force.
  • Keep in mind the attributes all military personnel need when crafting your skills section.
  • Take advantage of resume.io’s online tools and layouts to make your job search easier!
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