How to read a veteran's CV

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Many employers have great experiences of employing former Service men and women; however many admit to struggling to understand the language or how military knowledge, skills and experience will transfer to their business. So here are our tips for how to read a military CV.

Translating Military Language

Many transitioning veterans have not realised they should translate their military CV into civilian language, so there are a few easy ways to make sure your company doesn’t miss out.

  • If you receive a CV from someone who has spent time in the Armed Forces, accept that it might be worth taking a few extra minutes to read it.

  • Scan the CV for tangible results and benchmarks achieved. Most often you will see the results and accomplishments, with the results that were delivered.  These can be translated into skills your position requires.

  • Look out for ‘soft’ or non-technical skills such as self-discipline, work-ethic and leadership. These are too often over-looked in a military CV and are an indication of what an ex-military candidate can offer over and above someone without such experience.

  • Focus on the responsibility held. Service Personnel are expected to assume a high level of responsibility early on in their career. Army officers straight out of training, for example, are often responsible for leading and managing a team of 30 or more, often in highly arduous conditions on operations.

  • Look for length of service and milestones. Often you will see great qualities, skills, and the value of their service, which will translate to value for your company.

  • The deployments listed can tell a lot about an ex-forces candidate. It may indicate flexibility and adaptability in those that have had deployments, and commitment and responsibility for those with fewer. Take note of operational deployments. Experience such as this showcases what a candidate can offer your business. It indicates a proven skill set (both technical and non-technical) in highly demanding situations.

  • If a covering letter was included, always read it. Sometimes, service leavers are encouraged to keep their CV in a military format and explain their goals and values in the cover letter.

From Military To Management

Andrew Hearne is Centre Operations Manager at Westgate Shopping Centre, Oxford, for Land Securities. He spent just over six years serving in the Army in the Duke Of Wellington’s Regiment before it amalgamated into the Yorkshire Regiment in 2006.

After leaving the Armed Forces in November 2010, he began climbing the career ladder using the skills he learned in the military, combined with sheer hard work and determination to succeed.

He has built a highly successful career in facilities management and is now involving in hiring as part of his role in at Land Securities, a company which works extensively with ex-service personnel and often get involved in work placements, as well as fully supporting reservist staff.

Andy said he would always look out for military service when CVs are submitted to the company.

“I think time in the military give you things like common sense, because some people do sometimes lack a bit of common sense. People don’t necessarily have the same exposure to life so there are a lot of advantages to coming from a military background.

“We have a work ethic, we are used to being up every day at 6am and working all day and you can’t find that work ethic in everyone. Ex-military people have admin and people management experience and many have skill sets which lend themselves very well to facilities management.”

What To Look Out For On A Military CV

  • Job titles - in the military job titles are often no more than a rank and a regiment, such as Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Logistic Corps. What that doesn’t tell a recruiter is that that person will have been responsible for managing up to 600 people, often in high-pressure environments and challenging situations.

  • Military career - Anyone achieving any level of seniority will have come up through the ranks – no one joins the military as a Captain or Warrant Officer, unless they are a professionally qualified officer such a vicar or doctor. Everyone starts at the bottom of their particular stream, as a Private, Airman or Rating or a Second Lieutenant, Pilot Officer or Midshipman if they are an officer.

  • Highly competitive promotions - Promotions are not based on time served but by selection from highly competitive boards for officers and merit-based competitive selection for other ranks. The higher you go, the more is expected of you – military personnel are expected to be able to roll up their sleeves and do everything the men and women below them do, and to assume responsibilities consistent with one rank above theirs.

  • Acronyms - And military personnel are used to speaking in acronyms (whether it’s because time is often tight or they enjoy confusing civilians, we’re still not sure…) so it’s worth asking if there’s something on a CV which seems to make no sense at all.

Need Some Help Accessing The Ex-Military?

If you’re not sure, give the candidate a call or contact us at SMJ Consulting Services. We’d be delighted to help demystify it for you and hopefully find your company some great new employees. You can call us on 01249 691415 or email us