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Why Do Hiring Managers Reject Military Veterans Resumes?

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

If you are a military veteran or active duty military service member and have been applying for jobs, you may be lucky if you get the message from employers that say, “We are sorry to inform you that we have no clue of how to interpret your military resume into civilian terminology.” I say you may be lucky because, at least, you’ve been told why your resume has been rejected. Truth be told—there are thousands of veteran military resumes that are rejected daily by hiring managers. Some hiring managers may not have the courtesy to inform you why they’ve rejected your resume.

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Here’s a fact—the number of unemployed veterans is ever-increasing at an exponential rate. The fact that a majority of military veterans aren’t transitioning to civilian jobs doesn’t mean they lack the necessary skills and job experiences. Sometimes, you may be over-qualified—more than even civilians—for a particular civilian job position.

But without a compelling resume that has been carefully crafted, hiring managers will continue to reject your resume. Your resume should go far beyond the basic of chronological, functional or even combination resume formats if you want to nail that civilian job.

I know you’re now asking, “What mistakes have I been making on my veteran or active duty military resume?” Keep reading.

Here are the common slip-ups in veteran or active duty military resumes:

#1: Use of Military Jargon

In the military, it’s okay to use the military jargon—just like other professions—as part of your everyday dialect. But when you use this jargon on your resume, you’ll be speaking a foreign language to a hiring manager who hardly knows any jargon in the military.

Most military veterans ask the question, "should I include military jargon on my resume?". The majority of employers do not have the time to research whatever jargon you’ve used on your military resume to get its meaning. So, don’t use the military combat jargon in your resume if you want to transition from military to civilian jobs.

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#2: Use of acronyms

It’s your primary responsibility to ensure you’re expressing your skills and job experiences clearly in the resume. Frankly speaking, it’s very infuriating to see acronyms on a resume. It shows that you’re lazy and unable to decipher that an acronym will not be understood by the employer. But unfortunately, the use of abbreviations is widely accepted in military language.

So, while it may be normal in the military to write your military resume using acronyms, civilian hiring managers will get bored with your resume. So, if you want your resume not to be rejected a hiring manager, then you shouldn’t use the acronyms.

#3: Use of too many numbers that don’t provide explanations

A veteran or active duty military resume that has too many numbers that don’t provide explanations may make get your resume rejected by your prospective employer. But don’t mistake me here. Explaining your job experiences and achievements using numbers is a good thing. But the numbers should demonstrate a meaningful aspect of your previous job experience.

For instance, when you say that you were in-charge of 400 soldiers during a war, a civilian employer may not figure out how you were in personal contact with all 400 soldiers, which may be a fact in the military. However, if you say that you trained five sergeants to lead groups of 80 soldiers, then the statement becomes more meaningful.

#4: Putting a lot of emphasis on technical skills without focusing on soft skills

The majority of military veterans or active duty service members miss out from being called for interviews because they’ve put a lot of emphasis on technical skills on their resumes at the expense of soft skills. It’s true that when applying for a civilian technical job, you have to showcase the technical skills that you’re bringing to the table. But don’t overemphasize on these skills at the expense of your soft skills.

You’re not a machine! Your prospective hiring manager would like to know your personalities—such as your leadership and communication skills—as well as the technical skills that you’ve acquired from training and experience. If your resume is lacking the soft skills, then it’s likely to be rejected by hiring managers.

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#5: Lengthy resumes

No matter the experience that you’ve acquired in the military, it’s important to summarize your resume. In fact, military veterans resume shouldn’t be more than two pages. You don’t want your prospective manager to get bored while scanning through your resume. Besides, a lengthy resume creates an impression that you’re too old for the job.

So, if your resume is long, there’s high probability that an employer will reject it. Try to be as brief as possible when crafting your resume by ensuring it remains under two pages.

The Bottom Line:

You’re not nailing that job interview because your veteran military resume isn’t impressing the civilian employer. It has so many mistakes that range from using military jargon, acronyms, lack of soft skills and use of too many numbers that don’t provide clear explanations.

You may not be in a position to correct all these mistakes. Or even realize that these errors exist on your military resume. That’s why you need a third party—and for that matter a military veteran certified professional resume writing service—to help you with your bottom line.

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