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Veterans’ Résumés: A Treasure Trove Of Transferable Skills

On Memorial Day each year we honor the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We thank them for their service and we appreciate the protection all veterans have offered us at home and abroad.

As a society we try our best to afford veterans the courtesy and gratitude they deserve whenever possible. We demonstrate this in practical ways by offering material assistance such as government funded veterans programs, as well as additional assistance from private individuals, businesses and organizations. These may include price discounts, free or exclusive services, and more.  

Employment Assistance is an area of service that has received special attention since World War II, and continues to expand as each large group of veterans return to civilian life after each major conflict. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are 21.8 million veterans in our county and their unemployment rate is around 7%. Obtaining employment has proven to be a challenge for both the job seeking veteran and the employer who wants to hire a veteran. The résumé is usually the initial contact with the employer, so it is critical that the information on the résumé is understandable to the employer. A job seeking veteran will sometimes fill their résumé with military jargon and technical descriptions of their skills that don’t make sense to the civilian, even if accompanied by a cover letter to add context or familiarity. These types of résumés are often rejected, and the job seeker loses. The Employer loses, too, because they may reject a highly qualified person, who on the surface doesn't meet exact criteria or qualifications.   

But, what if the Employer or its Human Resource representative were to look a little deeper when it came to the résumé of a veteran? Today, when veterans receive job seeking assistance many of them are being taught to identify and highlight their transferable skills. An easy example is a mechanic in the Army might apply as a mechanic at a garage or car dealership. But what about military positions that are more esoteric? According to the Skills Translator section of, someone in Air Force Traffic Management has skills in logistics, budgeting, equipment operation and more.

How is the Human Resource Representative supposed to know that if it isn't spelled out on the résumé? In the ideal world the veteran might have these skills highlighted. But not all veterans have been taught to identify their transferable skills. Simply identifying these qualities is a skill by itself, requiring some training and self-assessment. 

With the number of veterans seeking employment at the same time employers are raising the issue of a possible skills gap, it is time for Human Resource departments to begin acquiring a new, necessary skill of their own: learning to read between the lines of veterans' résumés

Our advice to Veteran job seekers: Do the best you can to translate the skills, qualifications and experience you gained in the military to comparable civilian skills, qualifications and experience. 

Our advice to employers: If you receive a résumé from a Vet, spend a little more time with it to fully understand the information. Not only is it an excellent way to show your gratitude, you may end up hiring a highly qualified, outstanding employee! 


Related Info from NW Michigan Works!  Job Seeker Services  |  Business Services



Northwest Michigan Works! is an essential resource for employers and job seekers in the Northern Michigan area.
- Kathy Stuart, Michigan Rubber Products Human Resource Manager