Career Resource Center

How to Transition from the Military to the Federal Workforce

Thousands of veterans transition from the US Armed Forces to the US Federal Government every year.  Veterans choose to go to work for the Federal Government because of the better benefits and job security associated with working for a federal agency.  However, federal resume applications can be tricky to write, and the transitioning your military expertise to the civilian sector can be even trickier.

In this short guide, we’ll discuss the key resources you can use to make your transition easier.

Where to start

It’s tempting to start the process by diving in headfirst and immediately looking for open positions.  However, if you don’t yet have any information written down about your work experience, you should start by reviewing your actual experience with the military.  You can start by writing out a list of your ranks within the military.  For example:

United States Army | Staff Sergeant (2016 – 2022)

Once you have a list of each rank you held, start filling out some of your most important responsibilities accomplishments in each position.  If you’re having trouble remembering what you did, you can refresh your memory by using your performance evaluations/OERs.  Just remember that you should write your responsibilities in your own words.  Unfortunately, OERs can often be overly generic and lack accurate descriptors of your true responsibilities.

Next, you’ll want to put together a list of your awards, commendations, and medals.  This list should include the name of the accolade, the reason you received it (if applicable), and the date it was awarded to you.  For example:

Meritorious Service Medal | Awarded in 2004 for successfully moving $27M in equipment within a 3-day timeframe that was originally scheduled for two weeks.

Next, you’ll want to list out any training and education you’ve completed.  This should include the name of the college you attended, the degree you earned, the dates you attended, your completed credits, and your GPA.  Here is an example:

Charleston University | Bachelor of Science, Business (2018 – 2022)

  • GPA: 3.26
  • Credit Hours: 120

Now that you’ve got your basic education, work history, and commendations written out, you’ll have a better understanding of the positions you’re qualified for.  From here, you can start looking for open positions.  The Federal Government uses USAJobs to post open and upcoming positions with federal agencies.  When searching for positions, you’ll want to look closely for the announcement number and closing date of the position.  The announcement number will need to be included on your resume application.  All applications must be submitted by the closing date to be considered.

Announcement Number Located on the right side of USAJobs

Once you’ve found a few positions that you’re interested in, you’ll need to collect some of the additional information required for federal resume applications.  This information includes:

  • How many veterans’ preference points you’ll be claiming
  • The salary, hours worked per week, and supervisor contact information for each position you’re including on the resume
  • Whether you hold any security clearances

To determine how many veterans’ preference points you’re eligible for, the Federal Government has created a useful resource called the Veterans’ Preference Advisor for veterans to use.  If you would prefer to read more about preference points, here is an informative article on the topic from

If you’re having trouble finding your supervisor contact information, don’t let that stop you from applying!  For any information you don’t have, mark the section as N/A on your resume.  You’ll be able to explain during the interview and hiring process further about why you don’t have this information.  Remember, few people are able to keep track of their supervisor’s contact information over their entire career, so federal agencies won’t reject your application simply because you have some missing information.

Once you’re ready to actually start applying for some positions, it’s time to put together a complete resume that effectively showcases your military experience in a way that civilian employers can understand.  If you need some additional assistance doing this, our team at Resume Writing Group can help.  We’ve been assisting veterans with their career transitions for nearly 20 years.  So, checkout our website and let us know what stage in the process you’re at.



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