Education and Training on a Military Resume

The military provides a tremendous number of educational opportunities, ranging from short training classes up to year long programs. Knowingwhat to include on you resume can be a challenge. Many people transitioning from the military include too much information.

I’ve read a lot of resumes from military personnel that include a page or more of classes and workshops the individual completed over their career. Most of these are routine classes that do not differentiate the candidate. Additionally, many military personal include courses with no relationship to the career they are pursuing. For example, listing a large number of classes and certifications for various weapons will not help a person land a leadership position in manufacturing (except, perhaps, with a firearm manufacturer).

Including significant detail of your training in unrelated areas will not help you land a job. It may also hurt your chances. When a hiring manager reviews your resume, they may only spend 15 seconds looking at it. Any time they spend reading details that don’t sell your background is a waste. They may move on to the next candidate before they get to the impressive parts of your background.

To determine the elements of your education and training that are significant and should be included in your resume, you need to focus on the core challenges of the position. Identify the most significant skills that are required. Then include the courses that relate to these skills.

As an example, let’s contrast two positions.

The first position is for a leadership role, a supervisor or manager, with a manufacturing firm. A candidate pursuing this position should emphasize leadership, communications, strategic planning and organizational skills. A routine safety or hazmat class, that all military personnel complete each year, is irrelevant for a position like this. Training classes like this focus on conferring basic knowledge of safety issues. They won’t set someone apart. It is much better to list and emphasize training in leadership and communications skills.

The other position is a health and safety manager for a chemical firm. In this role, technical experience and skill with federal regulations is very significant. Leadership and communications skills may also be important, but technical ability will usually be the highest priority for a hiring manager. In this case, emphasizing safety and hazmat courses is good idea.  Although you want to emphasize safety courses, don’t go overboard.  Focus on significant courses, not the routine ones everyone completes.  You want to show you are an expert, not just someone that showed up for the annual one hour safety refresher.

The key to selecting the right items to include in your resume is prioritizing what is important to the reader. If a training class isn’t especially impressive, you are better off putting more detail in your work experience section and leaving the training class out.

For civilian positions, your resume should be two pages or less. This makes it essential for you to prioritize the content of your resume.