Hiring, Retention, Training

How to “Decode” Military Resumes and Increase Successful Conversion

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.

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