Vets Checklist: Planning for Civilian Life


Finding a Job

The easiest way to get a job is to know someone who already works at your target company or organization. This means that one of the most important things you can do in your job search is to network. Find ways to meet people who know when jobs are available and who can help you have a better shot at success.

If you want a government job, find out the exact requirements for resumes and applications. Different agencies have different requirements. You can search for jobs at federal, state, county, city, and local government levels.

If you prefer private employment, start preparing your resume. Search online for “ military resume” or “military to civilian resume,” and you’ll find many sample resumes that can give you an idea of how to get started. There are also hundreds of sites to help you; some are free and some charge a fee. Be sure you understand what you’re getting before you pay any money. Your resume is an important tool and you’ll be revising it when needed for years to come.

Crafting Your Resume

Your resume needs to clearly show how well your military experience transfers to a civilian job. Here are some tips:

  • Have a clear goal: Define your target civilian job. Because many service members have done many different things in the military, their resumes can be too general to be effective.
  • Show how you can meet the employer’s needs. A resume needs to answer the employer's question, "What can this person do for me?" Find out exactly what’s needed to do your target job, and make sure those skills and traits are highlighted in your resume.
  • Don’t assume the reader knows anything about the military: Avoid acronyms and military jargon. Before sending out your resume, show it to friends who do not have a military background. Demilitarize your job titles, duties, accomplishments, training, and awards:
  • Highlight your accomplishments. Your military career gave you excellent training, practical experience, and advancement. Emphasize these on your resume so the average civilian can understand the importance of what you did and the skills you learned.
  • Feature your military background. Your military experience is an asset, and your resume needs to show that. Detail the traits you developed in the military, like dedication, leadership, teamwork, a positive work ethic, and cross-functional skills.

Job Boards

Here are a few of the many online resources that can help you look for work

  • Anyone can search for a job on this website, but to post a resume you must have been a military service member or a military spouse or dependent.
  • The official job board for the U.S. government, this site lists federal jobs across the U.S. and around the world.
  • Operated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, this site explains veterans’ preference (the special hiring authorities that veterans can use to get hired) and how federal jobs are filled. It also offers resources related to your job search.
  • Learn about jobs available with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the nation’s largest health care system.
  • This site lists jobs with the VA, in programs designed to help your fellow veterans. The VA gives hiring preference to veterans, especially veterans with disabilities.
  • Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS): The Department of Labor lists a variety of resources for veterans and their families who are looking for work.
  • Veteran and Military Transition Center at A one-stop website for employment, training, and financial help for veterans.

Learn more