CV tips for veterans

The job market is a competitive field that is always changing as employers seek to find skilled and suitable candidates. Your CV is often the first impression you will make, and it's important to remember that a good CV can open the door to an interview.

As a veteran there are a few methods you can use to highlight your experience, so you can craft professional CVs that will make your job hunt more efficient.

The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) recommends the CLEAR system when it comes to CV writing:

Customised
Laid out well
Error free
Accurate
Recent

By following these steps, you'll be better prepared when sending off those applications.

Customised

Your CV must be targeted to the job and employer you are applying to. It's easy to fall into the trap of sending the same details to everyone, but this will severely limit your chances of an interview.

Research the company and role you are applying for. See how your skills match their requirements and consider how you can display these in a clear manner that makes it easy for the employer to see. Remember that they may be viewing many applications, so it's essential you meet their specified criteria.

Every CV should include a personal statement or summary, which is a great opportunity to show how your experience makes you an ideal candidate. Some employers may browse this section, or your cover letter, before committing to a full reading of your experience, so use it to say why you are the best person for the job.

Also, consider that employers may not be familiar with military jargon, so explain how your experience and titles translate to work as a civilian, again focusing on how this makes you an ideal candidate. Consider showing your CV to a civilian friend or family member to see if they understand it.

Laid out well

Clarity is important when writing a CV, so avoid anything that can distract from the information. Stick with professional fonts such as Ariel or Times New Roman, and avoid cluttering the page with graphics or chunks of text.

Keep your information brief by using short sentences or bullet points. White space around text and between categories can also make your CV easier on the eye.

Error free

Employers will notice mistakes on your CV, and this will reflect poorly on you. Spelling or grammatical errors are common when writing any document, but it is essential that you use a spell checker to get rid of them.

Do not leave out any important experience or qualifications either, as this will prevent you from presenting your strongest points. Also, make sure you are referring to the correct vacancy, as this is a common error for anyone sending out a large quantity of applications.

Accurate

The details of your qualifications and employment must be accurate, as potential employers can, and often will, check these details. Don't be tempted to exaggerate your achievements, as this will reflect poorly on you if you begin a new job under false pretences.

Use your CV to emphasise facts that will help you get the job. This requires research of the role and required skills, but with that information, it will be easier to craft a tailored CV that highlights your strengths.

Recent

Update your CV every time you change jobs or get a new qualification. Not only will this make applications easier, as there is less information to change in the future, but you can reference up to date projects, software, and other elements that will make you more employable.

Be proud of your military history

Military service is admired among many people, so keep this in mind when applying for a new role. You have marketable skills and significant experience to lead with, so don't be afraid to point this out in your application. However, avoid referencing direct combat experience, as civilian employers may be squeamish about these facts. Remember to reduce the jargon and keep the information relevant to the role, and you'll find many employers are happy to hear about your military experience.

Organisations such as Career Transition Partnership (CTP) (0203 162 4410) help veterans prepare for civilian life and the job market for up to two years after discharge, and RFEA The Employment Charity (0121 262 3058) provide help to veterans for the rest of their working life. They can offer advice about CV writing and what to include.

Get further help and support with employment at Veterans' Gateway, or see our advice on transferring your military skills to the civilian job market, or interviewing skills for veterans.

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