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Translating Military Codes and Titles into Civilian Language

When you sit down to write your civilian resume, a big challenge will be how to translate your military codes and titles into common civilian language without using military jargon or acronyms.

The first step is to get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) and use it as the basis for your resume. Take a look at your VMET and break down your skills, qualifications, experience and training into sections.

Then use either an online guide such as “The Military to Civilian Career Transition Guide” on the O*Net website ( to translate your military job codes or a traditional physical guide such as, “Token Book of Militarisms: A Compendium of Abbreviations, Synonyms, Acronyms and Slang words as Used by the Armed Forces of the World” edited by John Mussel to help you with the translation processes. Awards and accolades should also be explained so that a civilian is able to understand their significance. Once you have done this, sit down with a standard civilian resume template and produce a new civilian resume.

The last step in the translation process is to have both your military counselors at the VA and the Transition Assistance Center and your friends and family critique your resume to make sure that it makes sense and accurately captures your talents and experience.

Once you have a good working civilian resume, you should write at least two different versions emphasizing specific talents so that you can use these resumes to target various civilian jobs and skill sets. Lastly, you will want to make lists of keywords related to the jobs you want to apply for and make sure that those keywords are present in your resumes. Have your counselors and friends and family again review your resumes to make sure they are clear and error-free. Once you have done all this, you will be on your way to applying for a new job and a bright civilian future.

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