If you’ve been in the military for all your adult life, you may not know where to start when writing a resume.
You enlisted in the military straight out of high school. You proudly served your country and now you’re looking for work as a civilian but as you start to make your resume, you have no idea where to start.
You’re not alone and you probably have more civilian skills than you think. All it takes is a little direction and the resources to get the ball rolling.
Let’s dive into ten tips for how to make a resume with no experience, specifically for recent veterans searching for civilian work.
- Get Organized
First, you’ll want to decide what job it is you want. Make a complete list of the skills you learned in the military and put them into categories to get a feel for which jobs you should be applying for.
Examples of transferrable skills from the military include flexibility, leadership and management skills, integrity and loyalty, as well as communication and problem solving skills. It’s also likely you have quite a bit of technical skills too, like computer science skills, architectural design skills, or administrative skills. Plus, if you speak a second language, you can capitalize on being bilingual.
- Decide Between a Chronological, Functional, or Hybrid Resume
These days, most employers appreciate a chronological resume (one that lists your skills and experience in chronological order). But without civilian experience, you may want to consider a functional resume that clearly outlines who you are and why you lack such experience, not necessarily in chronological order. For military vets, a hybrid resume which combines the two is probably your best bet.
Everyone’s resume will be different but in asking how to write a resume with no experience, here is a good place to start:
- Name and contact
- statement (sometimes called an objective or purpose statement)
- Extracurricular Activities
- Creating a Personal Statement.
Just under your name and contact information will be your personal statement, giving you a chance to explain your professional objectives. This should be brief, only one or two sentences, describing the type of person you are and what you’re looking for in a job. Personal statements are necessary to include on a resume with no work experience.
- What skills should you add to your resume?
Take those skills you organized in step one and choose your strongest skills to include in your resume. List those at the top of your skills section.
Your resume should be specified for each job you apply for. Use the job description to frame your experience in a way that shows you’re a good fit, but don’t copy the posting verbatim. Simply use keywords to exemplify you’re the right candidate for the job.
- Educational History
This is where you list your high school and, if applicable, college information. Include relevant projects you worked on while in school and you can even add courses that you completed during your time in the military, even if they weren’t part of a formal degree.
- Highlight Your Achievements
This is your time to shine, especially since you’re writing a resume with no experience. Include awards you won in school or in the service, such as rank promotions and honorable mentions.
- Extracurricular Activities
While you may not have professional experience in the civilian world, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and volunteer work are all impressive ways to spend your time while forming essential skills.
Mention that you were captain of the soccer team that went on to win the regional championship. This shows leadership, teamwork, commitment, and grit. Or, maybe you play a musical instrument; An extremely difficult skill that takes hundreds of hours of practice to master. Hiring managers love to see this kind of experience.
Click here for some fantastic examples of an effective resume with no experience for military service members and veterans.
- Make Sure to Proofread Your Resume
Find someone you trust to proofread your resume, whether it’s a parent, partner, friend, or commander. Without professional experience, it’s especially important to have a spotless resume with no mistakes. Don’t give the hiring managers any reason to doubt you.
- Things Not to Do
When asking how to make a resume with no experience, there are also things you definitely shouldn’t do.
Don’t make your resume too long or too short.
A resume should only be one page in length, but, with that being said, make sure you fill that one page. Even with no experience, you still want your resume to look full and attractive to employers. So, make sure to fill that one page completely and avoid a resume that looks half-done.
Don’t use military jargon or acronyms.
Assume the person reading your resume knows nothing about the military. In fact, get a friend or relative ignorant about the service to read through your resume, making sure it’s clear. For example, instead of stating how you led a combat mission, say you met operational goals.
Don’t make your resume overly fancy.
Pick a standard font in plain black on a white page and keep the formatting consistent. The simpler the better. Don’t include a photo or references. Save that information for later as it doesn’t belong within the resume document.
- What should I do in the meantime?
There are a few other things you can do to build a resume with no work experience:
Write a cover letter to send along with your resume. It’s like an extended personal statement and just another way to share your relevant experience with employers, really showing them who you are.
Take courses in fields that interest you, apply for internships, and volunteer in your spare time. All of these are great ways to add skills to your resume.