How to translate resumes and skills from the military to civilian world

Understanding the skills that veterans can bring to your business is an important aspect of a successful hiring program, but for some employers, this can be easier said than done.


At Getting Hired, we pride ourselves on helping our employer partners decipher the sometimes confusing terms and acronyms that are referred to by veterans when applying for job postings. In this way, our extensive experience of working with veterans and employers alike can help to bridge that gap in understanding.


Overcoming this barrier to increased veteran hiring is important, as many businesses can benefit from the wide variety of skills, extensive training, leadership and focus that veterans can bring to a role.



How employers can translate military veterans resumes


The military has its own language, and the key to better determining the skills that veterans have to offer is to better understand the common terms and acronyms these individuals use when writing their resume.


Especially prevalent among those who have served in the military for a long time, the terms used can become a common part of their lexicon, and they may not realize that those outside the military can struggle to understand them. As a result, it is essential that recruiters, employers and veterans work together to demystify this language.


Common resume misunderstandings include:



  • Reference to rank in the armed forces. This can be confusing due to different structures within separate branches of the military. For example, a Captain in the army is a junior officer, while in the navy this is a more senior position.
  • Phrasing and jargon like 'commanded,' 'deployed;’ both of these terms can be translated to civilian terminology. Doing so ensures the skills and experience within a resume are more apparent for the employer.
  • Acronyms - AD (active duty), CDO (command duty officer), XO (executive officer); these are just some of the common acronyms used by veterans, but understanding what they mean and how they relate to civilian duties is essential to developing a clearer picture of the individual and their skills.


The key to translating veteran resumes is to understand the specific core competencies and skill sets that military experience can provide. Taking the time to examine in depth the career history of veterans can help to showcase a wealth of talent and transferable skills that the individual may not even realize they have.



For example, a battalion leader may have had direct responsibility for the management of more than 200 people, as well as developing a range of skills in terms of people management, decisive decision-making and leadership. However, they may also have relevant experience in a range of other disciplines; did they operate IT, handle logistics or carry out strategic planning? These are all skills that can be of great use in the civilian workforce.


Translating skills by leveraging online resources and partners


There are many online resources that employers can use to translate military terms and phrasing, but our employer partners can always turn to us for help. A recent example of our successful ability to help our clients translate military experience into the skills applicable to the civilian workforce was seen with Aerotek. Getting Hired worked alongside their internal recruiters to review a range of military resumes, ensuring they were able to fully understand the skills and talents that this group had to offer.


“From my eight years of experience in the Army and time partnering with Talent Acquisition and Recruitment teams, I know how to help hiring managers understand the inherent value of hiring veterans into their organizations” – Lawrence Wilde, Account Manager at Getting Hired.


As you can see, employers can draw on a wide range of resources to better understand the common vocabulary of veterans by talking to our skilled recruiters. Alternatively, they can expand their understanding by visiting our website at


Contributions to this blog were made by Lawrence Wilde, Account Manager at Getting Hired.