How to Write an
Effective Ex-Military CV

Posted: 15th Nov 2019

Despite the importance of networking and LinkedIn, your CV remains an important document for anyone looking for work.

You have made the crucial decision to leave the military, and now need to focus on finding your new career. Sending a CV is often the first direct contact with an employer or recruiter, so be confident yours will impress. Here is a brief overview on how your CV can help to position yourself as a strong candidate.

What types of tests could you potentially face?

The short answer is yes. Your military experience has helped you to become a strong candidate for the civilian roles you are applying for.

However, your CV must prove this, so consider what skills and experiences an employer wants and tailor it accordingly.

Avoid long descriptions of your distinguished service. Instead, focus on your skills and achievements, using examples from your military career as evidence.

Avoid military jargon
Remember that few recruiters or HR specialists understand the military. Military jargon and abbreviations can be confusing, making it difficult to see your strengths. Make their task easier by avoiding military jargon and acronyms where possible. If you need to use a military term consider writing a short definition afterwards. Get a friend with no military connections to read your CV, and check it makes sense to them.

I before we
The Armed Forces depend on teamwork, which will benefit civilian employers. However, a CV is about your achievements – not those of your team. Use ‘I’ and avoid ‘we’.

Results focused
Employers and recruiters are more interested in what you have achieved, and your potential, rather than what you did. Avoid describing processes, and instead focus on the positive impact you have made throughout your career.

Numbers matter
Figures are good for demonstrating your strengths. Although some officers have no budget responsibilities, you could show how you saved time, reduced costs or increased productivity. Link your quantitative evidence to the skills and experience outlined in the job descriptions.

Other CV tips

  • Avoid personal information on your CV (marital status, age, children, etc.), as it is irrelevant to the job role
  • Avoid subjective words such as ‘dynamic’
  • Do not mention hobbies or interests that are socially sensitive, like deer stalking or shooting
  • Do not list all your skills and experiences, just those relevant to the job role or sector that interests you
  • Ensure there are no spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Keep your CV reverse chronological
  • Keep your CV short – two sides of A4 maximum
  • Make sure the text size is no less than 11 and use a professional looking font (like Arial but not Times New Roman, which is dated)
  • Research the employer, and tailor your CV to reflect their values
  • Use active verbs – not passive.

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