How to “Decode” Military Resumes

Could your hiring team be contributing to military veteran turnover if they are unable to effectively translate military resumes?

Often times translating a military resume is oversimplified for the purpose of simply making a hire. However, an approach should be taken that looks beyond recruiting, and takes into consideration employee performance and retention in order for an organization to achieve real ROI. 

A common roadblock to effective hiring of military veterans is the inability of hiring teams to effectively match their job requirements to relevant military experience. Many employers who seek to hire military veterans are unable to effectively “decode” the veteran’s resume into a narrative that translates to the private sector. When recruiters and hiring managers struggle to effectively translate military resumes, they become challenged to correctly align a candidate with a job requirement. Further, when a military veteran is hired into a role that is misaligned with their skills and abilities, the likelihood for turnover is significantly increased. Why? According to a study conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, a clear association was found between job alignment and job tenure with veterans. One of the findings from that study was that 90% of veterans identified the opportunity to use their skills and abilities as the most important aspect of their employment. 

For any organization that looks to be successful in hiring AND retaining veterans, they must take the time to provide the right training and resources to their hiring teams, enabling them to correctly align a military candidate with the right role within the organization. With all the benefits and ROI that veterans bring to an employer, when the employer takes proactive steps to enabled their teams through training, they create a recipe allowing for reciprocal success for them themselves and military veteran candidates, alike. 

Here are a few tips to enable hiring managers and recruiters to more clearly understand military experience found on resumes in order to align a candidate with their position requirements:

Tip #1 – The reality is that not everything a veteran did in the military may directly translate over to your open role, but many things do even if it doesn’t seem that way when you see military experience listed on their resume. Don’t just rule the candidate out if you are simply unsure of their military experience or how it maps to your open position.

Tip #2 – When you see military experience on a candidate’s resume, take a bit more time to thoroughly read the resume. If some of the military wording is unfamiliar to you, see if there are veterans within your organization that can assist in decoding the resume and provide clarity on how they might translate to your position.

Tip #3 – When you come across lingo you are unfamiliar with, take time to research it. Here are a few areas you should spend a little time researching when you see them listed on a military resume:

MOS or Military Occupation – This is the job the individual did. Take time to understand the role, responsibilities, and training they may have received in the role. They may also have received occupational certifications and/or licenses that are accepted in the private sector. 

Rank or Pay Grade – By learning about the rank or pay grade, you will have a better understanding of seniority, experience, and additional skill sets they may have developed.

Billets – This is a position that an individual held while in their occupation, such as a Company Commander or Squad Leader. By taking time to understand the billet you may see listed, you will get a sense of the level of management, accountability, and experience that an individual had.

Military Medals – Not all military awards are earned for combat related action. Many military awards are earned for competency, occupational achievement, and going over and above an individual’s duties. By learning about the awards an individual may have received while in the military, you will have a clearer picture of their track record and successes they had while in the military.

The above serves as simple and high-level guidance that can be easily leveraged by any hiring team to begin approaching military resumes differently. The success of any military hiring program comes down to the ability of the hiring teams to effectively execute. While there are a myriad of best practices and resources that should be considered by employers as they pursue creating effective military hiring strategy, enabling front-line teams to effectively understand and align military talent to an organization’s needs, is critical.

Military Talent Group has developed the most innovative on-demand tools for recruiters and hiring managers looking to quickly decode military resumes and to align military occupations to private sector roles. To learn more, contact us to arrange a demo of our platform and tools.

Over 3,600 Military Occupations Have Private-Sector Equivalent Roles

Research shows that 99% of employers believe that veterans perform their jobs with equal or greater proficiency compared to their non-veteran counterparts.

The US Government has spent a lot of time and money educating and training our military service members so that they can accomplish their missions across the globe. Those missions require technical skills, authentic leadership, physical fitness, effective communications, and the ability to work in a diverse environment. Naturally, military veterans retain those skills when they leave the military, and any employer putting an effort in place to capture this talent is in a very fortunate position. However, without proven practices and the right tools in place, the ability for companies to hire these talented veterans becomes challenged.

The first step in effectively hiring veterans is to understand how their military skills translate to your company and its open roles. While the military does have many military specific occupations, there are over 3,600 jobs in the military that have direct civilian job correlation. The chart below helps to outline the occupations that exist in the military and the number of active duty enlisted and officer personnel that work in those roles. You may be surprised at the number of trained personnel in the military working in occupations similar to roles you have hiring needs for.

An effective and impactful military hiring program requires a strategic effort across your entire firm.  This includes educating all levels of your organization on the value of a veteran, specific training for HR professionals and hiring managers, and incorporating current veteran employees in your hiring efforts.  Whether you are brand new to military hiring or already have a robust program in place, the Military Talent Group platform provides all the necessary education, data, and processes you need.

Dispelling the Myths Associated with PTSD

A 2012 Society for Human Resource Management survey determined that 1 in 3 HR professionals cited Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or other mental health issues as “challenges” to hiring Veterans.

If you happen to be the 1 in 3 people that feel this way, please allow me to share some important information with you. Understanding the invisible wounds of war is vital to any employer in order to dispel the myths surrounding PTSD and other mental and/or physical health conditions, and to learn more about the benefits of incorporating veterans into the workplace. There are many important factors that can help to reduce employers’ concerns about the work impact related to these injuries as well occasional perceived stigma surrounding hiring veterans.

Despite the awareness that has been raised surrounding combat/service related injuries, several employers still report that they avoid hiring veterans. Why? Because of the lingering fear that these veterans may have sustained mental or physical injuries, and not being well informed about the implications associated.

However, the reality is that the number of veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress are just a fraction compared to that of the general US population.

Here are 3 common myths that you may have come across at one point or another:

1) Myth: “PTSD is a ‘Veteran Issue’ and one that no one else can relate to.”

Fact: Post-traumatic stress is simply a normal reaction to an abnormal experience. The reality is that nearly 8% of the US population – or approximately 25.6 million Americans will suffer from PTSD at some point during their lifetime according to the National Center for PTSD. Some individuals may experience PTSD following a natural disaster, a motor vehicle accident, or even from being mugged. While we often associate PTSD with combat and military service, the reality is that anyone can experience PTSD, not just those in the military. You are likely to be working with, or have worked with, someone who has suffered from PTSD and you may not have even known!

2) Myth: “I’ve heard that some Veterans have suffered traumatic brain injuries during combat and that must be a very significant injury.”

Fact: Many people assume that when someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury, they are left with significant brain damage. While this can be true in extreme circumstances, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 82% of all traumatic brain injuries diagnosed in military members since 2000 are considered mild. To provide further clarification, the most common form of mild TBI is a concussion, and there is typically no functional brain damage associated with this injury.

3) Myth: “A Veteran who has been diagnosed with PTSD will struggle for the rest of their life.”

Fact: Like any other medical or mental health condition, there are all different levels of severity. With the advancement in research and evidence based practices by mental health care specialists, symptoms of PTSD can be greatly reduced and possibly even eliminated with early intervention. In fact, according to the DSM 5, one half of all adults diagnosed with PTSD will have a complete recovery within 3 months of treatment.


I hope the information provided above serves to help further dispel some of the fiction associated with veterans in the workplace. In doing so, we collectively advance towards our overall goal of decreasing stigma surrounding veterans and the invisible wounds of war. These men and women bring so many unique skills and sought after characteristics into the professional workforce. Businesses that recognize this value in veterans, often find more productive employees compared to that of their non-veteran counterparts. This type of talent behavior is what drives companies to be more efficient, productive, and profitable. Any employer that puts a value on military service, creates a win-win environment that benefits not only their bottom line, but also those deserving military veteran job seekers looking for fulfilling careers.