25/03/2021

CV Tips for Ex-Military

Some useful tips for after you leave the Military...

If Calsberg did CVs

We live in a time-poor environment – no matter how organised we are, and nowadays, the decision to bring someone in for an interview is made in a matter of seconds. The thing standing between a veteran or service leaver and their ability to sell themselves? Sure there are LinkedIn profiles, covering letters and application forms, but nothing comes close (still) to your CV.

If you haven’t looked at it since your days in the military, groan at the thought of having to re-write it or scratch your head at the document CTP helped you create - JobOppO is here to help. We know it’s not easy translating military experience on a CV - we’ve been there! So, here are our top tips on how to turn an “average CV’ into a ‘Winning CV’.  

Lose the Military lingo

You might assume your previous rank or position is self-explanatory. Or maybe that course you went on offered a universally recognised qualification. But, you need to look at every turn of phrase from an outsider’s perspective.

That means swapping out words like ‘Troop’ for ‘Team’, ‘Patrol’ for ‘Project’!. Talk ‘I’ not ‘We’ – this is hard and may feel Jack. Avoiding acronyms like ‘WO2’ or ‘MOD’. If you’re like some of the JobOppO team, you might not realise when you’re dropping in military terms, so before sending it off, show your CV to someone who doesn’t have the foggiest about military! If they start asking questions about a word or a job title, then you need to keep working on it.

Always assume the reader has no prior knowledge and it’s your job to help them see the merits of each role you’ve held and how it has shaped you as a person.

Keep it concise

Not everything on your CV will be relevant to the job you’re applying for. You might think that your first job 20 years ago still needs to appear on your CV for chronological sake, but if it isn’t adding value or showing off a different skill then why include it in detail?

In terms of length, we strongly suggest two pages is the absolute maximum it should be. However, that doesn’t mean simply taking your current three-page CV and changing the font to a microscopic size 9. If you need to trim down your CV then easy wins are to cut out repetition and needless ‘filler’ words like ‘additionally’. Or try switching to a bullet point format under each heading so you can get the most out of each line. 

Explain the WHY

It’s easy to describe what you did in previous roles, but your CV shouldn’t resemble your old job spec or a journal. Everytime you write a sentence about a previous responsibility, ask yourself - so what? Why did you do that? What was the outcome/impact? Always look to use tangible results (stats, figures, percentages etc) the end of each point as the person reading it needs to be able to see results.

Tailor it to the job

We know that this is probably the point where we may lose your attention, because what we’re suggesting takes extra time. But, adapting your CV specifically to the role you’re applying for is well worth the effort – in fact, it’s a must do.

You don’t have to start from scratch every, single time. Instead create a solid foundation by having a ‘generic’ CV structure, then simply cut things out/add things that are relevant to the role and sector you’re applying for. Make it easy for the employer to see just how perfect you are for the role by hitting all the requirements from their job spec in a language and tone they themselves use, simply with a little fine-tuning here and there.

Show off your transferable skills

We talk about this ALL the time. If you’re looking for a Civvy job, you need to show how your Military skills are transferable to the workplace you’re hoping to get into.

It’s often quite a mental leap for people to realise that the skills you learnt in service can be applied to other environments like an office or a hospital. Make it really clear that your Military experience, whatever it may be, has taught you things you can take into a new role and as importantly, into your new company. Need inspiration? Start with how working in a high-pressured environment built your character - resilience, adaptability, leadership lateral thinking etc.

Need more CV advice? Please register on www.JobOppO.co.uk and get in touch with our in-house expert Garrath.