Writing A Cv As You Prepare To Leave The Armed Forces

Writing a CV as you prepare to leave the Armed Forces

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Writing a CV as you prepare to leave the Armed Forces

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 months ago
  • Author: Marketing Team

When it comes to requesting a CV from candidates who are planning their departure from the military, people often confide in us that they do not have one. That’s no surprise, especially where service leavers joined the Armed Forces in their youth, or it’s been a long time since they last undertook a job search.

As an Armed Forces friendly employer, our team are always happy to help candidates with CV guidance and career support – so we spoke to Senior Recruitment Consultant Laura Smith from our Sunderland branch to capture her advice.

Starting to write your CV

As part of the support available to you as you prepare to transition into civilian life, the Career Transition Partnership is on hand to help, the Ministry of Defence’s official provider of Armed Forces Resettlement.

These services include a job board and regional employment fairs to see the latest roles from businesses like NRL who actively seek applications from candidates with military backgrounds. As well as training courses to help you gain recognisable qualifications to secure future work, and CV writing support.

What should be in your CV?

It’s a good starting point to understand what the purpose of the document is and what recruiters and hiring companies will expect to see on it.

Your CV, sometimes referred to as a resume, is an overview document that gives potential employers all the typical information they’ll need to know about you to assess your ability to take on the role they’re recruiting. Such as your skills, qualifications, and technical knowledge.

Let’s take a look at what sections should be included.

Contact details

Always ensure you provide full contact details so recruiters and hiring managers can get in touch with you to progress your application.

This should include your email address, but before adding this think about whether the name of the account is professional enough for prospective employers to see. If you set it up when you were younger and feel it may not be appropriate for job searching, you can set up a new one using a free email provider such as Outlook or Gmail.

Personal profile and statement

This always goes at the start of the CV, directly after the contact details. It’s designed to help employers understand what you can bring to their organisation – such as your skillset, passion for what you do and past expertise that can be applied to the role you’re applying for.

When you’re applying for multiple roles, it’s worth reviewing this personal statement each time to ensure it covers the key areas of the role being advertised, and prospective employers can immediately see that your application is worth progressing to a first stage interview.

Don’t forget to celebrate your military career in this section, it’s something you should be proud to put at the top if your CV, especially where you can demonstrate how the skills and experience you’ve gained can transition into a long and rewarding civilian career.

Employment history and work experience

This may look a little different to a typical CV if the majority of your time has been spent in the Armed Forces, but don’t worry as you can still use this section to demonstrate the expertise you’ve gained.

When listing your various military posts, summarise these by detailing the transferable skills you’ve gained. Here’s an example below:

Led a team of 15 staff - including tactically planned logistics, risk assessment analysis, safeguarding protocols and quick reactions to changing situations to identify solutions to immediate problems.

In this example you’re demonstrating your ability to strategically think under pressure, whilst showing you’re still able to follow protocols and consider health and safety before making decisions. These are all strong skills that engineering companies will find desirable.

You may also wish to translate your job title to align it more to the civilian world and describe the function of your role. For example, the Career Transition Partnership suggest a job title such as Field Artillery Battalion Operations Officer would be better described on your CV as an Operations Manager or Operations Supervisor. Military terms can also be summarised, such as describing weapons as mechanical or electrical equipment, and hangars as facilities.

Key skills and experience

You may wish to consider a section that lists your transferable skills in one place, so it’s easy for recruiters and hiring managers to quickly understand your capability. These are skills that you can take from your previous work and easily implement in civilian roles, such as problem solving and critical thinking.

Lots of employers use Application Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage their job roles and applications. This can include computer technology that scans through CVs and pulls out key skills, to match the skills included in the job advert with your CV. Those that are a stronger match are typically the applications that employers then look to progress, so it's a good idea to create a different CV for each application, so you can make sure you’re including the key skills relevant to each role being advertised and remove any that aren’t relevant.

Qualifications, training and professional memberships

This is the section where you can list any courses you’ve completed and professional memberships you hold. List each of these together with the date you gained the qualification, and expiry dates where the certificates have them.

Remember to include your security clearance here as well, many engineering companies work on secure sites such as nuclear power stations, so security clearance may be advantageous.

Once you have an idea of the types of roles or industry sectors you’d like to work in, it’s a good idea to look for available jobs and check what qualifications are being listed on the job adverts. You may find a relevant course is available to complete through the Career Transition Partnership, which will demonstrate your interest and commitment to prospective employers


Top CV tips

Don’t forget that when you submit your CV it will be added to a list of other applicants, all of which the recruiter or hiring manager will need to review. To help ensure it’s easy for them to review it should be clear and concise.

  • Keep it less than 2 pages of A4.

  • Keep the layout simple in case computer software will be scanning it. Keep to standard text and bullet points, don’t use tables and images.

  • Don’t use military jargon that a civilian recruiter may not understand and won’t be read by a computer system.

  • Tailor the CV for each job application to focus on the key skills the role is looking for.

  • Ask someone, ideally outside the military, to read it to check it’s easy to understand and does not have any spelling mistakes.


Ask for help

Here at NRL our team are always happy to chat through your expertise for roles you’ve seen advertised that you’re interested in and help identify any other suitable roles to put you forward for.

The easiest way to see our latest roles is to sign up for a free account and register for email alerts for the job titles, sectors and locations you’re interested in.


You’ll also find our latest jobs posted on LinkedIn, and if you haven’t yet setup a LinkedIn profile to help with your job search you may find this article helpful.