Never written a CV for a civilian job? You’re not alone. Follow our simple guide on CV writing tips for ex-military so you can successfully translate your military skills and experience to a civilian job.

CV Writing Tips for Ex-Military

Leaving military service with a plan to join the civilian job market can be a daunting process.

There are a whole host of new considerations, and writing a standout CV is one of the first steps. Keep in mind that your application will not be vastly different to a regular candidate’s. However, there may be some slight differences that you should pay attention to when applying for a job and writing a CV as ex-military personnel.

Here are our top tips on how to write a CV for civilian jobs:

Keep It Relevant

One of the biggest mistakes people make on their CV is thinking it should be a full catalogue of everything they have ever done or achieved. The reality is that the more you include in your CV, the less relevant the content can become.

If an employer reads anything on your CV that isn’t applicable, they will assume you are not right for the role. This can seem brutal but employers receive an average of 250 applicants per job posting. Therefore, the more directly you can prove yourself as the right candidate, the greater chance you have of reaching the next round of the application process.

This will mean keeping your CV short and to the point. Aim for a maximum of one A4 page. If you’re applying for a highly advanced role, it can be between two and three A4 pages. This will allow you to include a description of all the relevant qualifications, skills, and experience.

Transferable Skills

Ex-military personnel often underestimate their own abilities because they assume civilian work is a world away from the service. However, today’s job market is moving faster than ever, and employers are increasingly relying on adaptable employees.

During your time in the military, you will have gained a vast amount of skills that are transferable to a whole number of civilian jobs. Some examples of these transferable skills include:

  • Team leading
  • Managerial skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Working well under pressure
  • Strong work ethic
  • Highly organised

These are highly sought-after skills that the majority of employers look for in their candidates. For a more in-depth guide on the skills you should include in your CV, head over to our ex-military transferable skillset guide.

Tailor Your CV

As we mentioned before, relevance to each job role is vital. Therefore, it’s not enough to just create one CV and send it to a variety of prospective employers hoping for an answer. You must tailor your CV to each specific job role. Here’s where it will be necessary to do some research. Study the job description and highlight some of the keywords that appear, such as “candidates must work well in a team”, “be highly organised”, or “multitasker”. By adapting your CV so that it includes some of these relevant keywords, you’re much more likely to be called for an interview.

Avoid Technical Jargon

There are many technical terms and abbreviations, even job titles, that are used and understood by military personnel. However, these don’t translate to the majority of civilian jobs. Therefore, you should use complete terms instead of abbreviations. Also, consider altering job titles to concentrate on the functional aspect of the role. For example, “Sergeant” could become “Team Leader” and “Intelligence Officer” could be written as “Research and Analysis Manager”.


Employers expect CVs to be perfectly polished documents. After all, your CV is an employer’s first impression of you. Hence, typos or grammar mistakes will not be tolerated. And with so many applications per job posting, you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Therefore, it is crucial that you proofread your CV over and over again. Why not ask your friends and family to proofread it too? On top of that, make the most of free online tools like Grammarly that will proofread and suggest possible edits where necessary. Employers are looking for any excuse to say no, so don’t give them one.

Key Takeaways

Moving from military to civilian job roles comes with plenty of uncertainty and new surroundings. There is no surefire way to job success, but a stellar CV is the first step done right. So, try incorporating these CV writing tips for ex-military to improve your chances of landing your dream civilian job.

For further information, be sure to check out our Support and Resources section. It’s packed with all the info you need to make the change from military to civilian life as easy as possible. Our job application tips for ex-military personnel will guide you on your journey to job success,  and be sure to check out our dedicated career change jobs board for opportunities in your area.

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter using the form below for all the latest from Refreshing a Career.