Veterans are incredibly employable, but many stumble at the first hurdle – a killer CV. Share this article if that sounds like you or someone you know.
Veterans are incredibly employable, but many stumble at the first hurdle- a killer CV.
If that sounds like you or someone you know, don’t be intimidated by the CV-writing process! There’s plenty of advice and guidance out there for anyone looking for it, and you’re already proving you’re on the right track by finding this article.
All veterans (from any length of service), reservists, and military spouses can access expert employment support from us at TechVets and the Forces Employment Charity. We help people successfully take the leap from the Armed Forces into civilian careers, and CV support is often step one.
We caught up with British Army veteran, TechVets CV reviewer and IT Compliance Manager at Carnival UK, Matt Hall to find out what his top CV and interview tips are for service leavers looking to secure a career in tech.
Reach out to us here anytime, and check out our quick tips for veteran CV writing below.
Format Your Veteran CV Like a Pro
Your CV has one job: clearly communicating information. Choose a simple font like Arial or Times New Roman, separate sections using bolded subheadings, and organise your sections in the most straightforward way possible.
Name. Contact Details. Objective or Personal Statement. Key Skills. Experience. Education/Qualifications.
The ‘experience’ section is the one that deserves the most of your time and attention. It’s best to lay out your work experience in reverse chronological order, with the most recent roles listed at the top. Feature bullet points under each role, with a few sentences about what the work involved. It’s smart to tackle each point using the ‘CAR’ method- explaining a Challenge, the Action you took to address it, and the Result.
For more on this, you can check out a full video of Forces Employment Charity experts Lee and Joanne breaking down the perfect way to format a CV based on your post-service career objectives:
RELATED: Forces Families Jobs Explores CV Writing with the RFEA
Important to note: some things are best NOT included. Civilian employers and recruiters do not need to know your marital status, home address, or even the contact details of any professional references you may have. Simply put ‘references available upon request’ at the end of your CV and hold onto that information until they ask for it.
Best practice is not to exceed one page front-and-back (two pages if single-sided) anyway, so be glad for the saved space!
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Be Proud of Your Military Background
It may feel like you’re starting at square one, but experience in the Armed Forces can actually give you a massive advantage in the hiring and recruitment process. You EARNED your service experience- don’t hide it!
In 2022, the Forces Employment Charity reported a huge increase (+47%) in the number of employers actively looking for veterans to fill their vacancies. The charity created 97,826 job opportunities to meet demand last year alone. So why are people hiring so many veterans and service leavers?
Employers report trusting those with military backgrounds to be more reliable and responsible, better team players, better problem solvers, and have stronger ethics and values than non-veteran applicants. Emphasise these attributes in the ‘skills’ section of your CV, using terms like:
- Strong work ethic
- Great organisational skills and attention to detail
- Works well under pressure
- Reliable time management
- Proven ability to communicate well
- Exceptional team player
- Motivated to be of service to others
You shouldn’t translate the names of any of you medals or commendations. Those you can explain with one line each about what they represent (leadership, good judgement, etc). You should also include your training courses by name and explain those if needed in the education or qualifications section of your CV.
Translate Your Military Jargon
It’s wise to avoid military jargon when pulling your CV together- however, civy job jargon (specific to what you see in the job posting) can actually help you land an interview.
That’s because many job applications are accepted online, and sorted by an Applicant Tracking System or ATS. High volumes of CVs are usually scanned by ATS bots for keywords set by employers, putting those with some of the same keywords featured in the job posting into the virtual ‘yes’ pile.
As suggested by the MOD Career Transition Partnership, here are some translation ideas:
- Weapons = Mechanical (or Electrical) Equipment
- Tanks = Heavy Equipment
- Radar/sonar = Sophisticated Electronic Communications Systems
- Hangars, weapons dumps = Facilities
- Uniforms, ammunition, etc = Supplies
- Intelligence = Research and Analysis
- Soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines = Staff
- Operations Officer = Operations Manager
- Accounting Officer = Financial Supervisor
- Sergeant = Team Leader
Take the time to comb through your CV and swap out terms that might be hard for civilian employers to understand- ESPECIALLY acronyms. It pays to be thorough, and to make use of a second set of eyes through a free CV review service.
Customise Your CV for Each Job Application
Customising your CV is one guaranteed way to stand out as a job applicant. The easiest way to do this is to have one base CV prepared that you can adjust to suit each potential job that comes along.
For each, scan the job posting for key desirables and consider how your own skills and experience might reflect them. Borrow their own keywords if they apply to you. Make use of your personal statement to mention the job role you’re interested in and why you are interested.
A simple cover letter (2-3 paragraphs addressed To Whom it May Concern and attached to your CV) is another great opportunity to expand on why you might be a strong fit for their specific role. By paraphrasing the language they use on their job posting and/or company website, you show that you’ve done your research and genuinely want the position.
For more help and guidance on making your perfect CV, reach out to us at the following link.